Artist Interview: Truth Club
Posted: by The Editor
In May of 2019, North Carolina indie rockers Truth Club burst out of the gate with the jittery Not an Exit. The record’s a smash, pulling in elements of everything from agitated post-punk to pithy slowcore (imagine, like, if The Strokes wanted to be Built to Spill). It felt like the group could’ve been on the verge of breaking out before COVID derailed everything. But, four and a half years later, they’re back. With the permanent addition of bassist/vocalist Yvonne Chazal to the original trio of vocalist/guitarist Travis Harrington, guitarist Kameron Vann, and drummer Elise Jaffe, they’re tighter than ever. They’ve just released Running from the Chase on indie mainstay label Double Double Whammy, and it’s a feverish update on the band’s debut that finds them refining every aspect of their sound. We sat down with the whole band to reflect on the writing and recording process and look ahead to what’s next for the Raleigh quartet.
It’s been some time since Not an Exit came out. What was Truth Club up to in the four years between that LP and Running from the Chase?
Travis Harrington: Not a lot. Everyone was preoccupied with greater questions, just trying to be mindful and participate to the degree that felt right with the response to police violence. When there’s a global pandemic, I don’t know, we weren’t hanging out. It didn’t make sense to make music. Once we got vaccinated we started making music again.
Kameron Vann: When COVID was at its height we weren’t getting together. We weren’t hanging out with really anyone. Beyond that, though, we were all stretched. Everything that was going on, all the protests and whatnot, we gave each other space. We didn’t want to have this pressing obligation. Maybe that’s too harsh a word, but we didn’t wanna have to get together once a week to practice or whatever. We’d been going hard before COVID.
Yvonne Chazal: Yeah, and I taught community college, and it was so crazy adjusting during that time. I was teaching online and frying my brain all day on the computer. It was a lot.
Double Double Whammy seems like a very fitting pairing for your band. How’d that all come together?
Elise Jaffe: It came together chaotically. Obviously there was the Tiny Engines fallout, and that was soon enough after we released Not an Exit that we didn’t have any firm plans for a release together yet. By the time we were recording this album Will had bought back the label and released us from our contract, so we knew going in that we’d be sending it around. It felt crazy. It was a lot of sending it around and getting nothing back or nice responses but ones saying they wouldn’t be able to put this out until ’24. It was frustrating finding a good home for the record.
“It’s Time” dropped in January, and it isn’t on Running from the Chase. What was behind the decision to release that beforehand and then drip out the singles for this?
EJ: That was the first song we wrote as a four-piece. Some songs on Not an Exit Yvonne contributed basslines to, but that was the first real one. We recorded that after Running from the Chase, actually, and it sounds a lot different. We’d toyed with releasing it as a single, and we were planning for that while we were still hunting for a label. We decided to put it out sooner and have it be something we could show labels.
TH: It wasn’t for the music biz of it. We just wanted to drop music again. I think I was mainly the voice of this. I didn’t think it made sense in conversation with the others on the album. We all love this song, I think. We all thought it’d be nice to share some music for the first time in four years. The process of releasing music is convoluted at times, so we wanted to just do it. It was gratifying.
YC: It was a special one to be the first one out. Alongside just sharing music for the first time in a while, that being the door opening to us as a four-piece, it’s one of the most collaboratively written songs. It felt like a good way to usher in this era.
The title, the artwork, even the single cover, it all works of a piece, I think. I love that the title track has that buildup intro track, “the chase,” right before it. Is there a significance to having that song lead into the title track, or was that just a fun choice?
TH: It wasn’t emotionally complex, really. I thought that interlude was a musically interesting thing to precede the arresting lick before that shoegaze riff. It was a nice on ramp. We had the album title way before.
KV: For the longest time we were contemplating having an untitled track. One day Travis just came up with that. It made sense.
TH: That’s the cool thing, though. It feels like there’s an intellectual weight to it, even if there isn’t. You can project that onto the song, and you can feel something from it even if that wasn’t the intention.
KV: Yeah, even within the band, I agree. Now there’s a weight to that. If it was untitled, it would feel different.
TH: That would diminish the significance, lacking a proper title. Good point.
Are there any parts of the record that you’re proud of another band members’ contribution to? Is there a moment you didn’t perform that really stands out?
YC: I’m really impressed with two parts. I have a special kinship with Kameron since we trade off parts since they’re in the same space. Kameron’s very interesting parts in “Siphon” and “Dancing Around My Tongue” really stand out to me. They feel carefully crafted, so intricately written. Every note is exactly where it should be, like he carved out so perfectly. I know how much work he spent on it and it all paid off so much.
TH: Yeah, Kameron has a really rare talent of being incredibly meticulous but never overwrought. Those two songs are standout performances and compositions on his part. There’s a lot going on, but it doesn’t feel busy or contrived. It is uncanny how he can do that.
KV: A lot of the vocals that Yvonne put on stood out, especially the harmonies. Your voice brings a nice texture to the songs you sing on, and I think they really stand out a lot in feeling. Also, seeing Travis in the studio is insane. I feel good about sitting down for hours and hours, note for note, but Travis just rips out a crazy solo in ten minutes with so much energy. That’s impressive. Elise is hard to pick out. She rips it up consistently.
TH: Yeah, thanks Kam. It was cool to see Yvonne on “77x,” a song we wrote together. I feel like, in a lot of ways, your guitar part drives the whole thing. It’s the standout accent, the way in which our parts work together. In that studio context it was very cool. Elise gets too many compliments when we play shows, so I’m not gonna say anything.
EJ: I have a couple distinct moments. One in the studio was when Travis was recording vocals at the end of “Is This Working?” At minimum me, Yvonne, and maybe Kam were in the control room with Alex [Farrar] and we knew that was it. I’ve always been drawn to the diversity of Travis’ vocal performances. People talk about how we as a band are dynamic, but I feel like there aren’t all that many bands whose vocalists do so much: Travis does softer singing, louder singing, some yelling. He does whatever the song needs across the board.
EJ: We recorded the end or maybe the vocals for “Exit Cycle” after I left. I did the drums and I had an idea of the harmonies Yvonne was doing, but I didn’t have any idea, when Indigo [De Souza] came in, what it’d be like. It felt like this really cool composition, Travis and Yvonne and Indigo, it built so much since I’d contributed.
I know you’ve got some shows lined up with Knifeplay, Squirrel Flower, and some others. In the upcoming months, what else should fans look out for?
TH: On November 3rd we have our record release show. Some cool bands, really good friends, are playing. This Raleigh band Saturnalias, who’re really young, they’re playing and they’re just cool music, a lot of divergent influences, some electronics, some shoegaze stuff, some psychedelic rock. They’re very cool. Then our Wilmington friends Exercise. They just put out an album called Shrug. Aesthetically, I guess it’s post-punk, but the guitarist is incredible. It keeps me up at night. He does flamenco-style limp wrist guitar playing in the context of post-punk.
KV: He’s one of the craziest guitar players I’ve ever seen.
YC: He makes a Stratocaster look like a toy.
TH: Come far and wide. We’re trying to play the album front to back.
KV: I’m looking forward to that for sure.
Running from the Chase is out now.
Zac Djamoos | @gr8whitebison
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