INTERVIEW: Stray From The Path’s Tom Williams Talks New Project, Trade Wind

While it’s true most people toss the declaration “let’s start a band!” around lightly, there are others who act on these words and get stuff done. Stray from the Path guitarist, Tom Williams, and Stick to Your Guns frontman, Jesse Barnett, are the type of people who do just that. Not only do they each have very successful bands independently,  but together they have formed a new alternative rock side project they call Trade Wind.

Three years in the making, their recently released debut Suffer Just to Believe EP delves deep into their creative abilities and emerges with a refreshing, atmospheric sound that is well suited for fans of hardcore seeking a more melodic and mellow, yet aggressively heart-felt sound. In the midst of getting ready for Warped Tour with SFTP, Williams finds time to talk with us about the influences behind the new EP, running their own record label, Other People Records, and the direction they wish to go both as band mates and business partners.

Substream Magazine: Stray from the Path and Stick to Your Guns collaborated together in the past, but what prompted the idea for the two of you to start the side project Trade Wind?

Tom Williams: We have been good friends for I think…6 years now…and Jesse and I are particularly close and always had very similar music interests. We have been trying to do something for a few years now… and finally he sent me a video of him playing acoustic and singing to it, and I just rolled with it. I wrote 5 songs, and we booked studio time. In the studio we wrote “Pain Is A Gift” in about 10-15 minutes on the spot…not planned or anything. We ended up throwing out one of the 5 songs I wrote, and we put on “Pain Is A Gift”. I hadn’t heard Jesse sing over any of the songs until the studio. I knew Jesse could sing well, but I honestly did not know he would be as good as he is on the EP. His voice isn’t doctored at all either, what you hear is him doing it in a couple of takes off the bat. He sounds like a true genie.

SM: Suffer Just to Believe is a refreshing listen for those who immerse themselves in the heavy music scene. Musically, the sound of Trade Wind is totally different from anything we could expect from Stray or STYG, so what influences helped drive the particular sound you guys have developed with this project?

TW: I would like to give you some nice beat around the bush answer here, but I will say straight up it’s Deftones. This idea started sitting outside of New England Metal Fest, I walked past [Jesse] sitting in his van, he said “Yo, lets start a band like Deftones” and then 3 years later, we give you Trade Wind.

SM: In your own words, what would you say the theme or atmosphere of the Suffer Just to Believe EP would be?

TW: In my own personal words, it is big and it is full of emotions. I have had good friends of mine hit me up and tell me shit like “dude, I don’t want to sound like a cock sucker, but “Fixed Blade” has seriously got me messed up,” and I know exactly what they meant. Trade Wind sounds like a band I would listen to every day more than it feels like my band…it still hasn’t sunk in yet.

SM: Most Stray and STYG songs tend to speak about broader subjects that you guys feel passionate about or angered by, while Suffer Just to Believe seems to speak from a more personal, intimate place. What are the lyrical differences between writing for Trade Wind vs Stray from the Path/ Stick to Your Guns?

TW: Well SFTP makes me feel angry, and I want to talk about shit that pisses me off. Trade Wind makes me feel depressed and I want the band to feel and speak about depressing matters. Can’t really speak for STYG, but speaking as a fan, I think it goes the same. I think it would be weird to sing a beautiful or sad song about how I think the government plotted 9-11.

SM: Since you both are lyricists for your original bands, did you write songs in collaboration or were there certain tracks on the EP you wrote and other’s Jesse wrote? What about musically?

TW: Musically I wrote the majority of it on my own, but worked on a lot of stuff in the studio with Jesse and Dan (Bourke, played drums) and Will Putney. Same with Jesse, he wrote the majority of the lyrics, but myself and Will worked on lyrics with him.

SM: That’s awesome Dan Bourke helped out by tracking drums, were there any other contributions made by your close friends?

TW: Yes he did and he fucking killed it. I don’t think I could play guitar to another drummer in my life, he is a machine….his skill, consistency, creativity and how hard he hits just makes him the best I know. We had some bass done by our friend Randy, who also engineered the record and this dude Jay played all the string instruments on “Pain is a Gift” which was truly ridiculous.

SM: “Fixed Blade” is probably the most haunting track on the EP, and there is something about the lyric video that really draws you in emotionally. Can you talk about how the lyric video and song relate, and what the influences behind this track and the lines “suffer just to believe in a life on a string” in particular are?

TW: I want to tread lightly on this question, because I know this song has a lot of meaning to Jesse and I wouldn’t want to not do it justice. But I can relate to it…that lyric over that chorus really gives me chills because of how genuine he sounds singing over it. The video is actually Jesse’s father and grandfather’s home videos that we were able to put on the computer, and I hand wrote all the lyrics over each frame, so I think because that’s really his family and that’s really my hand writing the words, it is just radiating with sincerity.

SM: What song off the EP would you say you are most proud of and why?

TW: I would say it’s a tie between “Fixed Blade” and “Pain is a Gift”. The chorus and bridge of “Fixed Blade” is one of my favorite pieces of music I have ever written…but “Pain is a Gift,” Jesse and I did together almost on accident, and it was so sick to see that song organically happen in a matter of minutes.

SM: I think everyone who is as obsessed as I am with this project would love to know, any plans for a full length album in the near future?

TW: Yes 100% doing a full length. Already begun working on it.

SM: Can you tell us about your record label, Other People Records, and how that got started?

TW: We were on tour together in Canada, STYG and SFTP, and Jesse told me he was starting a label. I was interested because that is always sick to get into the music industry, but also a scary thing. He wanted me to come on board with it because he thought I had a good grasp of the industry. He showed me Tommy Boys and Avaberée and I flipped…they were so good and I needed to be apart of it. We also saw it as a good outlet to get the Trade Wind project off the ground. We now have 7 bands signed with a full release schedule happening until Summer 2015. Very exciting! Check out Tommy Boys’ “Estate Sale” and Avaberée’s “Running Out” on YouTube.

SM: You guys seem to be quite the dynamic duo with all the awesome stuff you got going on this year! How would you say you complement each other professionally both as a band and as business partners? 

TW: I think most importantly, we have the same vision for the label and for Trade Wind. We are interested in the same style of music, so we tend to agree on a lot. Jesse is the most creative person I know, and I think with my side of the business world, we make the perfect team. I managed SFTP for 95% of our career, have released music independently and booked tours briefly, so I have been actively involved for a while.

SM: Any plans for touring as Trade Wind? If so, what bands would you love to tour with?

TW: We are going to play eventually, just not sure when. Balance and Composure, Title Fight, Citizen, Saosin, Circa Survive, I don’t know, any of them would be sick.

SM: What is one thing you hope listeners take away from this project?

TW: Don’t expect STYG or SFTP. Don’t compare it. Just let it be what it was meant to be, something new.

See the review for Suffer Just to Believe here, and find out how you can win a copy of your own here!

You can find more from Trade Wind on Facebook and Twitter.