And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead

And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead

Plenty of bands like to yammer on about how their newest record is a “return to their roots,” as if some undiscovered brilliance is to be found and resurrected on early demos and basement jam sessions.

But the in case of ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead (or Trail of Dead from here on out, because who really wants to type all that over and over), a return to form could be just what the doctor ordered. The band’s 2002 album, ‘Source Tags And Codes’, sparked a near universal rock-critic orgasm; after that, how could their two follow up efforts match up?

But Trail of Dead are now free men, emancipated from their former record company and ready to reach back to the past while looking forward. “We finally have the artistic freedom we’ve wanted, with no pressure to create radio music, no legal department to OK our artwork, and no A&R people breathing down our necks,” says Conrad Keely, one of two primary and founding members of the band.

Although many other labels would have certainly welcomed them, Trail Of Dead decided to cement their freedom by starting a new contract with young German alternative rock label, Superball Music. In October, they released the 5-song Festival Thyme EP as a teaser of things yet to come. The new album, The Century Of Self, will be released February 23rd.

The Century Of Self is an epic masterpiece. From the soaring instrumental opener, ´Giants Causeway`, to the album’s closer, ´Insatiable Two`, which starts off with the sounds of a demented circus and ends with an echoing sing-along about Keely’s lack of monstrosity, the record is a work of tremendous scope and ambition. While the term ´prog` is terribly overused, in this case Trail Of Dead has managed that rare feat – a prog album that isn’t academic or painful.

“The new songs are very personal,” says Keely. “Some of them are autobiographical. We’re building on everything we’ve ever done, looking back on our whole career and taking a lot inspiration from our early music. We continue to evolve the concept and try to incorporate new ideas. And there was no point on the record where we were trying to write songs you’d hear on commercial radio. We know that singles are driving the market, and we don’t care.”

Then again, Trail Of Dead never cared much, anyway. Friends since childhood Keely and Jason Reece started playing music in the indie rock town of Olympia, Washington. The pair then relocated to Austin, Texas, where Trail of Dead was officially born. They released a self-titled full length in 1998 and put out Madonna in 1999. After a successful run opening for hipster stalwarts Superchunk, big record companies came calling, Source Tags And Codes dropped, and the rest is history.

With the new album, Trail of Dead is planning to hit the road, incorporating a visual art element in to their tour. Keely is an accomplished visual artist who recently showed his work at the 34 First Ave Gallery in New York, and hopes to include other bands whose members make art, as well as incorporating a visual element in to the live show.

Fifteen years in to their career, Trail of Dead continues to innovate and grow. At a point where many other bands would be resting on their laurels and half-heartedly tossing off greatest hits comps, Trail of Dead are just getting started.

Album Tracklisting:

1. Giants Causeway
2. Far Pavillions
3. Isis Unveiled
4. Halcyon Days
5. Bells of Creation
6. Fields of Coal
7. Inland Sea
8. Luna Park
9. Pictures of an Only Child
10. Insatiable one
11. Ascending
12. An August Theme
13. Insatiable twov

Trail Of Dead on tour in the UK:


14 Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
15 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
16 Manchester Academy 3
17 Glasgow Oran Mor
19 Newcastle Academy
20 Birmingham Academy
22 Bristol Thekla
23 London Electric Ballroom
24 Oxford Academy