Road Justice: Trapped Under Ice and Angel Du$t Frontman on Life in the Van, the Return of TUI and More
Justice Tripp talks the return of TUI, Angel Du$t, and more in this new interview
Justice Tripp, 28, has probably played your town.
The hardcore frontman of Trapped Under Ice and Angel Du$t has spent years touring the world, playing to crowds both small and large. For the last seven years of his life he’s been on the road more often than he’s been home. In fact, Tripp is on the road so often that it’s fair to say the road, and your local hardcore venue, is his home.
In 2013 Trapped Under Ice announced that This Is Hardcore would be their last show before going on a lengthy hiatus. The members have since focused on various other projects, notably (for hardcore kids) Tripp with Angel Du$t and Brendan Yates with Turnstile. While Turnstile demanded the attention of most heads with their debut LP Nonstop Feeling. Angel Du$t, with their distinctly melodic hardcore style, quickly made a splash of their own with catchy tracks like “"Stepping Stone" and fervent touring.
According to Nicholas Heitman, 23, bass guitarist of Angel Du$t, the other guys in the band hadn’t really toured before (aside from Daniel Fang, who drums in all your favorite hardcore bands). So having someone like Justice around was a big help for him. “Touring with Justice is nice because we have someone to kind of show us the ropes. He plays the ‘band dad’ so when it comes time to get something done, he takes a lot of responsibility and we learn from that,” Heitman said. “He’s also real OCD when it comes to locking the van so he checks every door even after hearing it lock.”
When Trapped Under Ice went on hiatus they told us not to worry and that “the beast was just sleeping, not dead.” Whispers of the band’s return have been buzzing around the scene for a little while now. But recently Tripp announced that “the beast” had finally awoken, wrote three new songs, and will begin playing shows – albeit more sporadically than before – within the year.
We talked with Tripp about Trapped Under Ice, Angel Du$t, and living without “normal people stuff.”
Noisey: Angel Du$t has a fairly unique sound compared to much of the current hardcore scene. I know you’ve been touring a lot to support your record, A.D.. Can you talk about the reception you’ve been receiving? Do you think hardcore kids are open minded enough to embrace the sound?
I both loved and worried about the idea of people not getting it. It's not super heavy, which I think hardcore has been really focused on in the last few years. It’s almost a battle of who can be more stupidly heavy. A few bands do that well, but a lot come off sounding ridiculous. I think the punk scene is more focused on other things, which also don't apply to us so much.
So where do we fit in? I’m not really sure but it's fun to just kind of do what you want and hope someone vibes it. It took a little bit, but especially with the release of A.D. the response has been wild. I think in 2015 you can do whatever you want and most hardcore kids will at least try it out. It’s cool to stand out right now, and that's a wonderful thing.
What other bands do you think are successfully standing out from the crowd in a musical sense?
There are so many cool bands right now. Obviously I’m in love with Turnstile. Hank Wood and The Hammerheads sounds like nothing else in the world. Pity Sex is very cool and pretty distinct. Red Death from D.C. is currently rocking and makes me feel weird. I like bands that I can't describe. Like when someone says "Hey, what is Crazy Spirit about?” I can say “I don’t know, man. They’re on some real freak shit.”
That feels great when you've seen the same band being replicated over and over for 15 years of playing in bands.
When can we expect a new Angel Dust record?
I’m not sure exactly. We’ll definitely release something this year, but not an LP. We’re going to record an LP in July with Will Yip, but plan on taking our time with it. Make sure all the details are what we want before releasing it.
It’s pretty typical for bands, at least ones I’ve worked with, to record something and then freak trying to get it out to the public as soon as possible. You always end up hating some stupid detail of the record. We’ll probably release a single or something this year, but there's definitely no rush to put out something we won't be completely happy with.
When’s Trapped Under Ice coming back?
We will definitely play a few shows this year. We’ve been slowly working on music and working out the details of what would make sense for us time wise. Each of us does at least one other band now, and we live in 5 different states, so our schedules conflict a bit
I’ve read Trapped Under Ice have three new songs finished. What do they sound like in comparison to your previous material?
I’ve tried not to use past Trapped Under Ice material as a reference to what we're writing now. I think that's a way people get stuck writing the same material over. At the same time, it’s the same people who've always wrote Trapped Under Ice, so it's ultimately the same band. For me, my biggest goal is to simplify what we do; write hardcore songs that we think are cool without sweating what someone else thinks is cool or not.
Turnstile is touring like crazy right now. Can fans expect TUI to get back on the road after Turnstile slows down a bit, or is there a possibility of a Turnstile and Trapped under Ice tour?
TUI probably won't do any lengthy tours, at least for right now. If down the road something comes up that looks like a good time for us to spend together, we'll take the opportunity. But, who knows if and when that would happen.
You’ve been around hardcore long enough to see plenty of beefs unfold. What’s your take on all the drama going down on Twitter about bands saying “fag” onstage?
I consider myself to be a pretty liberal minded person when it comes to social issues. Saying "faggot" is not something I’d want representing my band onstage, but I also don't think it makes the individual using it a homophobe. It makes them offensive. Personally, I don't get bent up about words. If you choose to be offended that's completely reasonable, you're entitled to that. You won't be the first person offended by a punk band.
How long have you been consistently touring for? What’s your living situation like when you aren’t on tour?
I didn't really start doing consistent touring until about 2008. I balanced touring with normal life for a while. I had a house, a car, a girlfriend, dogs -- normal people stuff. That didn't last long.
For the majority of time between then and now, I bounced around here and there for a few months between touring. I moved to Richmond for about a year total, lived in Atlanta for about nine months, and now I’m in New York. New York so far seems to be the best for me right now because I don't need a car, and there is a lot of cool things to get involved with in between tours.
So that's about seven years without, as you put it, "normal people stuff." Why do you think it's so hard to maintain those things while playing in a touring band? Also, relating to your love life, when we first met at that show in the Midwest I noticed two attractive women showed up. They didn't look like punks really and stuck to themselves mostly so I was a little confused why they were there. Then I realized they were just there for you. Is that a fairly normal occurrence?
I’m just a pretty friendly guy and I like to kick it around pretty girls so people think they are with me. In reality, one of those girls used to date a friend of mine and the other was an old friend with her boyfriend at the show. It’s all an illusion to make people think I’m a total bad ass.
It's hard to keep "normal people stuff" because it's hard to keep a job when you're gone more than you're home. I’ve had tons of friends look out for me with small jobs here and there, but very few punks, if any, are making car payments, rent, and a happy partner off their band.
Also, who wants to date someone who goes away for a few months at a time and comes back with their teeth kicked out?
You were telling me about all the gnarly injuries you’ve had on tour. What were they?
I've gone through a lot of front teeth. I’ve had them replaced 3 times, and 1 is currently broken now. I broke metacarpal's in my hand in Montreal and again in Prague. A mosh pit broke my ankle. I’ve had my nose broken a few times. Caught a spin kick a few months ago and had to do a U.S. tour with a broken rib.
I think that is all normal shit that mosh pit fans endure
What’s the difference between a Trapped Under Ice tour and an Angel Dust tour?
Do you mean more in terms of the dynamic in the band? Or the actual live show?
The dynamic of the band. Like, is there a difference in the kind of music you bump in the van or the places you go after shows? Do you get more of those weird tour stories from one band over the other?
Everyone in TUI is straight edge but genuinely crazy, unpredictable and sometimes scary. While a few guys in Angel Du$t smoke and drink, they are way more into just chilling out. I like both dynamics.
Musically, every single person I’m in a band with is kind of into something completely different. Everyone has their own go to records. Brad in TUI is my favorite van DJ for sure. He plays a lot of space shit I’ve never heard.
You've been straight edge for a long time. When and why did you claim? Have you ever considered seeing if the grass was greener on the other side?
I officially became "straight edge" when I was maybe 16, maybe 17. I couldn't really tell you. Honestly being "straight edge" was never a big deal to me. I just did a lot of wild shit when I was a little kid and decided I didn't like it. I basically forget that I’m straight edge sometimes.
I don't really worry about the grass on either side, you know? I just do what I always have. No stress.
I know you’re into rap. Who are your favorite rappers right now and why?
I’m a hip-hop poser. My shit is mainly from the 90's. I love the classics, but as far as newer stuff I don't know much. I like Freddie Gibbs. It feels modern, but it reminds me of what I liked about rap music when I was a kid. Otherwise, I listen to iLoveMakonnen "Tuesday" on repeat like all day.
Angel Du$t is gearing up for a European tour. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about what is essential to pack before leaving on long trips. What’s in your bag every time you leave for tour?
I like to challenge myself to bring as little as possible every time. I’d like to get through this European tour with the clothes on my body, maybe 2 other shirts, socks and underwear. Of course you need a good bathroom bag. Floss is important – I’m not an animal. Oh, and also dry shampoo. That’s my new thing.
What the fuck is dry shampoo?
Some bullshit you spray in your hair that absorbs some of the grease and makes it smell a lot better. I guess it doesn't actually clean your hair. It’s just a great illusion for fooling people into thinking you're cool and not a dirty piece of shit.
@MattSaincome is on Twitter, trying to fool people into thinking he’s cool.