A conversation with Triathalon: The band that is redefining R&B into their own unique sound that is Online
Interview by Mica Kendall
From the entrancing instrumentals that encapsulated the entire venue to vocalist Adam Intratror’s soothing vocals putting the crowd at ease, Triathalon had the entire crowd swaying to every song on the set which debuted their newest album, Online. After their first sold out show at Baby's All Right in Brooklyn, I had the opportunity to talk to Adam Intrator and guitarist/keyboardist Hunter Jayne about the R&B elements on their album, the inspiration behind the album's artwork, and what the internet means to them.
Mica Kendall: How did your move from Savannah, Georgia to now living in NYC affect you guys as musicians? Do you feel like you've obtained more creative inspiration by living in the city and how did it apply to your new album?
Adam Intratror: Totally! Its inspired by where I was living and not use to buildings and not use to noisy areas. I don’t know super influential just kind of growing up too and changing your location I feel like kind of helps everyone, but definitely was inspired by New York for sure. I don’t know why I can't really explain it it's just like the energy here.
MK: So one of my favorite songs off the new album “True”, stood out to me as one of your more personal songs on the album. My interpretation of the song is how you lyrically focus on how making it big is not the priority to you and so how does this song reflect your personal opinion on the current day music industry and how competitive it is nowadays?
AI:That’s interesting I guess like I love being a musician we love playing music, but then it gets kind of lame when you know that stuff happens where it gets taken to a business level. I don’t know its hard because anything that you love, but obviously want to support yourself, but I think there’s unfortunate ways that kind of bigger things can happen that maybe aren’t as organic as you'd want them to be. I don’t know I love the music industry and I understand sometimes we have to do what we have to do to live, but its kind of corrupt like anything.
Hunter Jayne: We play music and make records and tour because its something we love to do and we’ve done for a long time and we’re really good friends, but unfortunately a lot of the music industry is very much pay to play and very about money, but we aren’t discouraged by that. I feel like we’ve over the last 5-6 years we’ve really tried to build a base of friends and fans that really support us, and buy our records and come out to see us and not get discouraged by the more toxic parts of the music industry. You know same thing with like Hollywood it’s a lot of things that are really slimy and about money and power and things like that. But at the end of the day its like we’re just trying to make good records and have a good time and give something to people.
MK:I read that on this album Online you guys wanted a more R&B feel to it . Do you have any specific R&B influences?
AI: I listen to the D'Angelo record Voodoo the second one. That record I just listen to it a lot and once I moved here it kind of made more sense for some reason because it kind of fit the vibe of the city and stuff. That record actually if you listen to it its pretty crazy it has like a very eerie vibe to it and yeah I just got influenced by that and kind of just like you know slowing it down. We’re just really trying to be more chill.
HJ: There’s nothing wrong with playing a set of songs like R&B songs that are down tempo. I feel like in our earlier days it was more about playing a lot of upbeat stuff and lately we've just been more comfortable being like lets make a record that’s down tempo and that’s what you get and that’s what we want to do.
AI: And sometimes R&B like I don’t know I feel like R&B gets kind thrown around a lot as a genre so does rock, but really just trying to make things smoother and that’s what I really like about R&B. You listen to it and people always even if they don’t listen to R&B are like "that’s smooth" and that’s crazy.
HJ: As a band like doing less I feel like we in this last record and last EP we have taken a more minimal approach to our production. Not necessarily being like "lets do as much as we can that’s possible" to happen sonically and trying to like pick the things that are happening that really mean something in our records rather than just picking a melody or chords or things that are serving the song. I feel like that has to do with being more mature and growing as friends and musicians like my role playing guitar where its like you don’t have to do a lot of stuff or its like serving the song you know if it feels good it feels good.
MK: So I’m assuming you guys like cartoons and anime, what was the inspiration behind your album cover for Online?
AI: We’ve been really into 80’s vintage anime.
MK: So like Cowboy Bebop?
AI: Even like before Cowboy Bebop, but I do like Cowboy Bebop. There’s like some really nice vintage ones that aesthetically are really cool and we tried to mask it and our friend Clayton Walsh is a really good illustrator and he did that design.
HJ: He did the illustration that’s on the cover and then Chad Chilton who plays drums is like the visual design mastermind of the band. So Chad he is kind of the collage artist and that’s something that was a part of our visual style a lot in our previous records, but when we did this record we started somewhere like way different when we were starting to make the record. What we thought the album artwork was gonna be was totally different what it ended up being. But we worked with our friends that are photographers and make photos and drawings and we actually ended up using the elements of all these different people we worked with over the last year. So it kind of ended up being the artwork we arrived to, but it was definitely a process that took almost as long as making the record and developing it and deciding what felt good and what felt right for the record Online.
MK: Your album being called Online, what are your opinions on the internet and how heavily prevalent social media is in our generation? Do you guys feel like you're really involved with the internet and your online presence as a band or do you not really like social media?
AI: I just think that we are all obviously connected but we were all around before this whole thing happened so it wasn’t apart of our lives like some people. I do think our generation definitely we’re all probably the same generation of age, but you know its unfortunate that it happens but its also a beautiful way to connect. I think theres a good and a bad side to everything and it just kind of comments that maybe theres too much bad and you know I'm guilty of being someone who's always on the internet. I think we all are. We check it all the time and also I try to be weary of it and I don’t know I think it’s kind of a reminder that we don’t need to be spending time when there's other stuff going on.
HJ: I think a lot of this album's lyrical themes in regards to the internet is like this two sided coin where its like whatever where it has helped us reach a lot of people and be more successful as artists, but its also a thing where there's dark sides to it. Parts of it where you know you're trying to live your real life and being with your friends and loved ones and work and have like your shit together, but also there's this whole other side of life. There's a lot of themes with that on the record and also the whole idea of going on tour and when you're touring a lot and a lot of your really personal relationships get switched to almost virtual relationships where it's like you're talking to people you love a lot and it's like you don’t see them for 2 months and all of a sudden this world in the flesh relationship becomes like a virtual one. This whole idea that kind of dynamic of it that it's always switching and trying to be there for the people you love. Also trying to do what you're trying to do, it’s a balance that’s really hard and I feel like every artist visual or sonic or whatever deals with that especially now.
AI: It's more about love and being in a relationship, being on the internet, what is that like, and distance is cool you can FaceTime your friend or family or loved one.
HJ: But FaceTime is not the same you know.
AI: It's just a interesting subject definitely interested to see what happens with the world and how we interact each other.
MK: Lastly, just have to ask what your favorite anime of all time is?
AI: Oh Dragon Ball Z. Dragon Ball Z is just a classic I just love all those guys.
HJ: Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon is just really great.