Posted On 16 May 2017
Four Trips Ahead’s roots date back to 2003, when the seasoned New York City musicians first came together in search of a new creative outlet. Instantly, the quartet recognized their common musical interests – creating heavy, progressive sounds with strong melodies and dynamics.
Their album “…And The Fire Within” explores the struggle for identity, self-reliance and faith in the midst of chaos and conflict, standing apart from much of today’s contrived rock releases. The record may be one of the band’s strongest works to date, produced by lead vocalist Peter Wilson, with tracks mixed by Johnny Nice (Amy Lee, Joel Hoekstra, Rihanna) as well as Grammy and Emmy Award-winning engineer Nick Cipriano (Dream Theater, Twisted Sister, Erasure, Donald Fagen) at Spin Recording Studios and mastered by legendary mastering engineer Roger Lian (Rush, Muse, Slayer, Pantera, Coheed and Cambria). …And The Fire Within was released on HiFi Records via Alliance Entertainment on March 10th.
Four Trips Ahead is made up of Peter Wilson (vocalist), Brian Eisenpresser (guitarist), Dan Cassidy (bassist), and Ken Candelas (drummer).
Learn more about Four Trips Ahead in the following All Access interview:
What are some words you would use to describe 2016 for you and your music? What were some of the highlights? What are you most excited about for this year?
Thrilling. Chaotic. Fulfilling. Loving. Challenging. Rewarding. Exciting. Loud.
There were many highlights—finishing our new album, “…And The Fire Within,” was undoubtedly one of our proudest moments ever. I am looking forward to promoting the record and playing shows everywhere—I want as many people as possible to hear “…And The Fire Within.”
So how did this band first form? How did you all meet each other and decide to make music together? Where did the name come from? Was it hard to come to a decision?
We actually knew each other from the New York City scene– Brian, our guitar player, and I go back quite a bit. He would see my old band play, I would see his, and we were friends prior to ever playing together. We would hang out, have dinner sometimes, and Dan, our bass player, I was also friendly with. My band broke off after a little bit and I was starting to write with other people. Brian and Dan were in a band, and they had different ways of looking at music than their singer at the time, so we just got together. I knew that they were very good musicians; they liked my voice a lot. But there are times you can get into a room and there’s no chemistry. Everyone’s a good player, but there’s nothing that really works. I went in with low expectations. It turns out, as soon as we got together, we ended up writing. Right away, that said to me, “Hey, there’s something different here.” The real test is if you can write together because I like to write what I sing. We knew there was a lot of magic, but we took things slow and just kept writing and rehearsing songs. It was weird, one of those unspoken things where we just started getting together every week. It just blossomed, so it was very organic and exciting.
Brian came up with the name, which is suggestive of our four distinct personalities going on literal and figurative journeys together. We hope listeners will travel with us on our musical adventures. It took a little bit to agree upon a name we didn’t hate—we even played a few shows under a different moniker—but the songs helped shape the band name and identity relatively quickly.
Let’s talk about your recently released single, “Bring Me Down.” Where did the inspiration for this track come from? How does it compare to the rest of your album, “…And The Fire Within”? What other songs are you excited to share with your fans?
It’s an anthem! “Bring Me Down” is a song for listeners to turn up and release their frustrations, letting music give them hope and inspiration in the face of tough times. “Bring Me Down” is a collective of short observations of regular folks being forced to sacrifice their dreams because of social expectations and repression. And one day, these same individuals decide they won’t be held back any longer—it’s a song that resonates with people who don’t want to remain voiceless or powerless at work, school, in their families or when confronting so-called authority. I always loved hard rock and metal songs that inspired me or made me feel that all is not lost and that I could stand up for myself and believe in my abilities. I think “Bring Me Down” is a great final track to “…And The Fire Within,” encapsulating FTA’s sound well. We are excited to play all of the songs from our new album for fans. It’s tough to pick just a few–my favorites change almost daily.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
No—usually the lyrics I write are thoughts and stories accumulated over time and begin to take shape as various characters in songs. It leaves a bit more room for interpretation and imagination on the part of the listener. Different people hear the same song in different ways and I like that. I would probably be crushed regularly if my favorite songwriters explained their songs to me because I’ve attached very personal experiences with their music.
What was it like working with mixer Johnny Nice and engineer Nick Cipriano on this new record?
Working with Johnny and Nick is like hanging with family—they have both been involved with FTA recordings for some time. There a great amount of mutual respect and trust which makes a big difference when you are pouring your heart and soul into the music you have created, trying to capture lightning in a bottle so to speak. As usual, we tracked the album at Spin Recording Studios in Long Island City in Queens, New York. We are really comfortable there—the staff is warm and has been supportive of our music for some time now. Spin also has a killer live room and an amazing 68-channel SSL board, which lends itself for big, fat rock sounds. The actually tracking process really didn’t take very long—two long weekends for the basic tracking and then another two months in and out of the studio recording guitars, bass and all of the vocals. We worked with days off to allow us time to listen to what we’d done and to make sure we had everything we needed. Nothing was too labored over however—we knew when we had what we needed most of the time. And we were also very fortunate to have the legendary Roger Lian master the album for both digital and vinyl release which made all the difference.
I understand that you’ve been a band since 2003. How do you think your sound and really your overall band dynamics have changed over the years? What has remained the same? Has what drives you all to make music changed much?
FTA has become a tight almost, family unit with a shared vision. I think we’ve grown naturally as songwriters, musicians and performers. There is an immense respect and trust we have in each other’s abilities, which allows us to step on stage with confidence and share ideas freely in rehearsals. We always welcome challenges and have tried not to play it too safe—organic artistic exploration is key to musical fulfillment. I also think everyone plays an important role in the band and recognizing that fact has made our music unique and memorable as well.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Who would you all love to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration?
This is a very hard response to give in a limited amount of space—Queen, KISS, David Bowie, The Wailers and Thin Lizzy. Some of my other essentials would be the Beatles, AC/DC, Nina Simone, Peter Tosh, UFO, Rush, Sly + the Family Stone, Cheap Trick, Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin, the Bad Brains, Glenn Hughes, Kate Bush, King’s X, Aretha Franklin, Faith No More, Third World, Fishbone, Anthrax, Meshuggah, Peter Gabriel, Aswad, Steel Pulse, Seal, Nevermore, Pantera, Alice in Chains, Porcupine Tree and Prince as well as a host of others. Newer artists would be Rival Sons, Big Wreck, The Answer, Work of Art, Winery Dogs and Black Country Communion.
I don’t think I can name a musical collaborator that I would just throw into FTA—I love the chemistry and dynamic that the four of us have. It would have to happen organically with a particular song that was calling for something that the four of us couldn’t provide. I would love to record with adventurous, legendary producers like Bob Ezrin or Peter Collins. I also really dig Nick Raskulinecz and Dave Cobb as producers for the excitement they bring to new rock records.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs?
“…And The Fire Within” is emblematic of finding your inner motivation to rise above your circumstances and to dream without apology. The goal was to identify songs that shared common themes and told stories of how people faced and either overcame or succumbed to challenges. “…And The Fire Within” lives within a backdrop of individuals maneuvering within their particular social and political realities. Ultimately, I believe our music is encouraging and asks you to dig deep for answers and questions. I hope people find solace, strength, wisdom, encouragement and love in what we do.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this group or your music?
Four Trips Ahead will be shooting a new video, for “December,” in the coming weeks. We intend to be on the road promoting this new record for as long as possible. We’ve also been writing some terrific new music that you’ll hear debuted at shows in the future. We should be recording again in 2018. I hope your readers will buy “…And The Fire Within” digitally or on vinyl and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Everyone can also see the video for “Bring Me Down” on YouTube to see and hear what we’re about. We appreciate the support.