You Are A Nice Surprise is out now.
What is trunkweed? Is it a nice surprise in the boot of your car? Is it a fungus that attacks certain breeds of trees? Is it an STD? With all these questions rattling around our brains, we’ve been jamming pretty heavily to Baltimore, Maryland slacker/punk duo trunkweed of late.
Their latest effort, You Are A Nice Surprise, is an earnest, tender, rollicking, funny blast through twelve short tracks of slouchy punk that pulls on the heart strings as much as it batters the brain.
We recently spoke to the duo (well, Brady in particular) all about the meaning of the title, and the stories behind each song on the record. We’re no closer to figuring out what exactly trunkweed is though…
You Are A Nice Surprise
The phrase “You are a nice surprise” started out basically as an inside joke we would giggle about in the early days of the band. It was right when we started out, maybe our 2nd or 3rd show, that we hopped on this bill, a day before the show, and we finished our set and then either me or Tucker checked our Facebook and saw that, as we were playing, this middle-aged photographer there had posted on our band Facebook page. All his post said was, “you are a nice surprise”. So, we joked around about the post in general but also speculated about how cool it would sound as an album title and now 2 years later, here we finally are.
wishlist (RIP) was a fuzzy stoner-surf band from the rural wastelands of Maryland/Pennsylvania where I grew up. Their bassist, Jeff, has been one of my closest friends since I was like 7. Beyond hooking us up with our first show (which was a banger and also had wishlist on the bill), he played a huge role in getting trunkweed started out. He made our t-shirts, taught me how to make (days of haze) cassettes and gave me the equipment/tools to do so, and was just always looking out for us – basically the big brother I never had. So yeah, we jam wishlist albums in the van all the time and you should check them out but this song doesn’t really have anything to do with any of that, the name was simply a foundation for me to come up with some lyrics.
2. Classic Trunkweed
Funny track name, right? Me and Tucker thought it would be funny to name this song “classic trunkweed” because: 1) the song, musically, just reiterates everything that we released prior (and even nods to that lyrically) and 2) the very act of this meta attempt at humor is quite typical of us, which is then inherently trunkweed-esque.
This one is really hard for me to ever even want to play, let alone talk about. But I’ll just lay it all out bluntly real quick. Over the last 5 or 6 years, I watched as my best friend slowly sunk into the soul sucking sickness that is schizophrenia. From depression to homelessness and then finally heroin, the wonderfully brilliant and unconditionally loving spirit had faded and left me long before the needle ultimately took his body. The entire time I was writing this song, I knew it was and would be about him; however, I could never piece together the lyrics. But then one day, out of nowhere, I came up with this section in the middle of the song where all of the instruments go silent – then come crashing back, then silenced, then back – with each pause getting longer until the whole thing literally falls out of sync and is then offbeat until it’s final static.
4. Sick, sick, sick
It’s about Adderall. But it really could be about any drug or addiction. Also, it sounds like 666. My favorite part is the second verse where I basically just start rambling. This song is supposed to be a musical representation of what it’s like to have ADHD, which sucks because my parents put me on stimulant medications when I was about 6 years old and is, what I believe to be, the honest source of my substance issues. I’ve just always thought that it’s so insanely crazy that the clinically supported “cure” for ADHD is practically meth, which certainly shouldn’t be given to 6 year olds.
I guess this is sort of a satirical joke about the classic “honeymoon phase” idea. I always wanted to name it “honeymoon (a love story)” or something like that just because I think it’s funnier that way but Tucker hated it. The joke with this song though is that it’s about a failed relationship and how you hope to always remember the “honeymoon phase” but in reality, the honeymoon was the shortest part of that relationship, just like this song.
6. Windows 95
Tucker came up with this name in the studio, the night before I had to record the vocals for it, and I instantly fell in love with it! I always struggle to write lyrics until there’s some kind of solid blueprint laid out and even then, it’s tough sometimes. But literally right after Tucker threw “windows 95” out there, the lyrics just poured out of me. It’s like, about working a day job and hating your life and all that. It’s just funny.
7. Rad or Sad
I talked a lot about this track for it’s premiere over at New Noise Magazine but in short, this song deals with the dictating dichotomy between who you are and who you want to be, which so many kids struggle with in the ever-growing industry of internet that is appearance and actuality.
8. Cult Nug
A little secret about this song and its title can be found in its capital letters. Originally, I had planned on naming all of the songs on the album by pseudonyms created through the initials of each song’s direct musical influence/reference. You should be able to figure out this one now. But lyrically, this song comes from a battle I’ve hated my whole life, which is the quest for security/success/stability etc. There is a very heavy and particular burden, or fear, that comes with growing up in the information age. It sucks, always feeling like a slave to the machine, that feeling existential, hopeless, or just generally depressed is such an “issue” in this world. People need to have the freedom to feel like a pile of shit, it’s what makes us better.
9. Rather Be
This is my love song of the album. The majority of the lyrics (and music) in this album are kind of dark, at least compared to our old stuff, so it only made sense that we have at least one happy-go-lucky feeling tracks and I thought, “what better way to spend that than on a love song?” So yeah, this one is about my girlfriend and about how she sort of saved me from a lot of mental and emotional bullshit that I was dealing with before we met. And I think that mostly anyone in love can relate to the idea of not wanting to be anywhere other than right there with that person, wherever that is.
10. Dark Daze
Pretty self-explanatory stuff with this track I think.
Frank has always been one of my favorites, if not my most favorite, from this album and I think that might be because it was the first fully complete song I demoed, after we did days of haze, and it really helped to shape and mold the rest of the album. The title comes literally from the movie Frank, which I’m pretty sure I was watching while I wrote the first few chords. Other than that, the song has nothing to do with that movie; however, I did recently re-watch Donnie Darko and realized that the bunny (or manipulated dead) was named Frank. All of the sudden, my own lyrics then made a lot more sense. *Side note: not understanding the lyrics as they are written and then finding perfect sense in them long after is quite common in trunkweed. *
Playing guitar (or bass) really fucks with your posture and I pretty constantly feel like my whole spine is out of line. It’s tough, instruments are heavy and Tucker is really happy with the name of this song. He says that, “it’s an idea we’ve had since days of haze that expresses a direction we could’ve gone as a band but never did”.
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