Meet TRAPPIST, a Grindcore Band Dedicating Its Music and Message Entirely to Craft Beer
"There’s 40,000 grind bands out there who have entire albums where every song is about either zombies or gore... At least beer is fucking real."
Photo courtesy of TRAPPIST
Beer and band collaborations are nothing new. Even the former teeny-bopping trio Hanson got into the brew game. But metal bands and craft beer make for uniquely fitting bedfellows. Notoriously anti-establishment, both judge “sellouts” and “corporate shills” harshly and tend to appeal to sweaty guys with beards.
TRAPPIST is no exception. The Los Angeles-based powerviolence trio is made up of Chris Dodge (Spazz, ex-Infest) on bass/vocals, Phil Vera (Crom, Despise You) on guitar/vocals, and Ryan Harkins (co-owner of heavy metal-themed burger truck and restaurant Grill ‘Em All) on drums, all of whom sport facial hair of varying length.
Beards aside, it’s the beer that drives TRAPPIST—named for the brewing monks of the Trappist-Cistercian order—to their Discharge-esque sound and somewhat absurd beer-centric lyrics on their debut album Ancient Brewing Tactics.
Hey! Wake up all you crusties, covered in filth and mud
You claim to hate the big corporations, but then you go drink Bud
If someone tries to hand me a Coors, I’m gonna have to pass
If you pass me a Pabst Blue Ribbon, I’ll kick your hipster ass
– “No Corporate Beer”
Founded in 2016, TRAPPIST was initially a two-piece of beer nerds (Dodge and Harkins) who just wanted to record a 7” for the hell of it. But they couldn’t achieve the racing D-beat sound they wanted.
“I quickly figured out I’m terrible at guitar solos,” laughs Dodge. “So we recruited Phil to save the day. He can solo.”
Once the three-piece of metal legends got together, they decide to give a beer-inspired full album a shot instead of limiting themselves to just a seven-inch. Thus, here comes Ancient Brewing Tactics, which is slated for release on August 17 on Relapse Records.
Their first full-length album can hardly be called such a thing. In true crust punk fashion, most songs are less than two minutes long. (The entire album, all 21 tracks of it, clocks in at just over a half hour.) But each track is pure aggressive insanity, fueled by a love of drinking beer and damning the man.
Each track also comes with a recommended beer pairing—all from independently owned craft breweries from around the world, of course. From weizenbocks to farmhouse ales, the diverse selection of brews stands serves to differentiate the fast-paced tracks from one another. But the pairings aren’t completely random.
Dodge explains: “It’s basically a list of some favorites. Not all pairings were deliberate, but a few were intentionally paired to maintain a theme. Like the song ‘Tesguino’ is about an ancient Mexican corn beer, so we paired that with a newer Mexican indie beer we like from Cerveza Fauna. ‘Giving The Boot To Reinheitsgebot’ is about overthrowing the 500-year-old German beer purity law, so of course it made sense to pair it with a German beer from Schneider Weisse.”
Each member got into independent beer at different points in their lives, but Dodge credits famed drummer and noted beer enthusiast Dave Witte (Municipal Waste, Burnt by the Sun) for his conversion.
“He’s the first guy I ever knew who was a ‘beer guy’. When he was on tour, he would seek out any and all microbreweries. This was the 90s, so options were very limited at the time, but he was a pioneer.”
In both music and beer, “selling out” to corporate interests is a death knell for diehard fans of DIY punk. TRAPPIST hopes to provide a musical outlet for those who’ve turned their back on breweries that have been gobbled up by international conglomerates like MillerCoors and AB InBev.
“The corporate buyouts of… Ballast Point, Lagunitas, Saint Archer, Elysian, 10 Barrel, and so many others remind me a lot of the 90s, when ‘alternative’ was a big catch phrase and all the major labels were having a feeding frenzy signing independent bands,” says Dodge. “Of course their fans got pissed off and called them sellouts. With both music and beer, if you’re really that offended by your favorite brewery or band moving under the wing of a corporate entity, there’s enough indies still out there who deserve your support.”
Apocalyptic stouts of monstrous weight
Obliterate sobriety with unparalleled hate
Off in the distance you can't hear their wails
All palates devastated by the heaviest of ales
With lyrics bordering on comically devout to Xeroxed images of World War II planes dropping kegs instead of bombs, some might consider TRAPPIST nothing more than a gimmick. They shrug off the assertion.
“I’d argue there’s 40,000 grind bands out there who have entire albums where every song is about either zombies or gore or whatever the fuck. At least beer is fucking real. Zombies aren’t,” snorts Dodge.
In the ongoing chaos-fest known as the Trump administration, choosing to support local, independent businesses (and of course, bands) instead of corporate-owned interests is a very tangible way to instigate change—or so TRAPPIST hopes.
Dodge notes: “If you’re pissed off about something, it lights a fire under your ass to work toward making a change. A revolution in music and beer has been long overdue.”
While Ancient Brewing Tactics hits stores this month, don’t expect to catch a show quite yet. (No tour has been announced.) But in the meantime, grab a can of locally made, independent craft beer and prepare to get annihilated on these pairings:
1. “No Soldier Left Behind” (3 Floyds Zombie Dust Pale Ale)
2. “This Means Wort” (FiftyFifty Brewing Eclipse Imperial Stout)
3. “Tesguino” (Cerveza Fauna Penelope Coffee Porter)
4. “The Patron Saints” (Orval Belgian Pale Ale)
5. “Hymn To Ninkasi” (Beachwood Brewing Citraholic IPA)
6. "Waiting In Line – First Stanza” (Jackie O’s BBA Oil Of Aphrodite with Coffee Imperial Stout)
7. “Giving The Boot To Reinheitsgebot” (Schneider Weisse Aventinus Weizen Bock)
8. “Swignorant” (The Bruery Mash Barleywine)
9. “Nihamanchnihamnchii” (Insurgente La Lupolsa IPA)
10. “Frank The Tank” (Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout)
11. “No Corporate Beer” (Eagle Rock Brewery Amwolf Pilsner)
12. “Victims Of A Bomber Raid” (Surly Brewing Darkness Russian Imperial Stout)
13. “99 Problems (But A Beer Ain’t One)” (TRVE Possession Saison)
14. “Proost-Op” (De Struise Black Albert Russian Imperial Stout)
15. “Waiting In Line – Second Stanza” (The Veil Brewing Daddy’s Home Triple IPA)
16. “To The Pint” (Thrash Zone Chris Dodge’s Ham Slappin’ Aru-Chu Ale Barley Wine)
17. “You’re The Reason” (Sante Adairius Saison Bernice Farmhouse Ale)
18. “Garbage Human” (Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Imperial Oatmeal Stout with Vietnamese Coffee)
19. “Waiting In Life – Third Stanza” (Lawson’s Finest Liquids Double IPA)
20. “Wolves In The Taproom” (Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout)
21. “Trappist-1: Final Gravity” (Zundert Trappist Abbey Tripel)