Hard rock band Trixter’s mantra has always been being the best band they can be. It’s a formula for success that has reaped rewards for the New Jersey-based band for more than 30 years.
Trixter’s new album, Human Era, continues that trend with another infectious blend of rock and riffs.
Whether it’s the inspired performing on the opening track, “Rockin’ to the Edge of the Night,” a song that started out as a leftover from the first Trixter album, the shuffle feel of “Midnight in Your Eyes” or the album’s title track which discusses the band’s history, Human Era is an inspired collection of songs from one of the genre’s finest bands.
Guitarist Steve Brown has been with Trixter since the beginning. In addition to being a principal songwriter and producer for the band, which also consists of Pete Loran (vocals), P.J. Farley (bass) and Mark “Gus” Scott (drums), Brown has used his guitar and vocal prowess to fill in for Def Leppard’s Vivian Campbell during his recent treatments.
Guitar World recently spoke with Brown about the new Trixter album, his time performing with Def Leppard, gear and more!
GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe Human Era?
I think it’s Trixter at its best. The most important thing for us is that we’re doing the best music of our career. We take a lot of pride in that and as musicians, each of us is at our best. Plus we have Pete Loran, who has one of the best rock voices out there. Collectively, the band is better than ever.
What’s the songwriting process like for Trixter?
There are a lot of different avenues. “Rockin’ to the Edge of the Night” is a great story because that song was actually an old one that we reworked. It was originally one of the leftovers from our very first album that for some reason never made it. That was a song that was a gem with the right parts but just needed to be reworked.
How about the track, “Midnight in Your Eyes”?
I love the heavy, shuffle groove of that track. We’ve always had that side to us. It definitely has that “Def Leppard / Mutt Lange” inspired feel to it.
What can you tell me about the title track, “Human Era”?
That was the last song we wrote for the record. What’s cool is that where “Edge of the Night” is our oldest song, the album ends with our newest one - the title track. P.J. brought the concept in. Lyrically, it talks about our history. We’ve been through a lot together as a band for more than thirty years but we’re still brothers. The whole record has a lot of positive, human-based messages and about how every second counts.
It’s now been 25 years since the band’s first album. A time when music was just getting its first taste of grunge. What thoughts come to mind when you think back to those days?
All I can say is, “Wow!” We always hear stories about how great it would have been if we had come out a few years earlier and how we might have been as big as some of the other bands of our genre. But we were just so grateful to be a part of it and get on the wave. Sure, it would have been nice if we came out earlier but we enjoyed every minute of it to the fullest.
We were out on some amazing tours. At the time, you don’t really know what’s happening but now more than ever we appreciate every moment. We were just doing what we did as kids and every year it just kept building. The fact that people still come out to see us today because of what we built back then really means something.
Speaking of Def Leppard, you’ve recently filled in for Vivian Campbell for a few dates. What was that experience like?
It was an absolute honor. Those guys have been friends of mine for 27 years. Vivian is a good friend who has always been a hero of mine. Every time I'm with him he always tells me some really cool Dio stories. During my stint with them I learned so much about how they make records and do live vocals. It was amazing.
Did you always know that you wanted a career in music?
I was born into an athletic family and played sports growing up. I started playing guitar when I was eight and as time went on, I started becoming more and more obsessed. I remember seeing the original KISS line-up in 1979 at Madison Square Garden on The Dynasty tour and then saw the original Van Halen there too. After those shows, I knew exactly what I wanted to do!
What’s your live setup like these days?
Right now I’m using EVH 5150 half stacks with Digitech and Rocktron effects along with AKG wirelesses. For guitars, I’m using EVH Wolfgangs and a D'Anngelico EX-SD. I also have a DBZ Korina Flying V that I used on the Leppard Tour.
Of all the highlights of your career are there any that stand out to you as most memorable?
The obvious one is the first time we played our hometown arena – The Meadowlands. We played there on the Scorpions tour and got our gold records that night. To have our family and friends be there when we were presented with our records was unbelievable.
But I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I’ve been able to do things that most people just dream of and am still doing it.
What excites you the most about Human Era?
What always excites me is when the record is done. You always go through all of these emotions whenever you make a record but the best part is when the record is finally complete. That’s when you put it in you car, listen to it and go “Man, this is really fucking good!” Doing our best work so many years into it…that’s what I’m most proud of.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.