Many local groups flirt with the edges of atmospheric, expressive, effects-driven rock music, but none have dived as deep into the waters and come out as soaked in the washed-out reverb and liquid delay made famous by bands like My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver, and Slowdive as wall-of-sound masons Trauma Ray. The fledgling four-piece is set to release its debut EP of swirling, ambient, reverb-rock through Dreamy Life Records (War Party, Sub-Sahara, Andy Pickett Band) later this month, and the band members are excited to have a product that’s faithful to their loud and dynamic live presence.
“We all just love big, loud music,” said singer-guitarist Uriel Avila.
Jonathan Perez, who also plays guitar, said he and his bandmates want the weight of the sound to reverberate in the listener’s chest when they play live.
“Whether it’s Sleep, or My Bloody Valentine, or Sonic Youth, or any of that shit,” Perez said, “We do our best to do our own version of that.”
The EP, [trauma ray], was recorded at EMP Rehearsal space, where the band shares a room with Avila’s other band, The Deluxe. To capture their live feel, O.M.A. Production’s Brandon Sanders (Iris to Iris, Veronza) set up a mobile rig in the rehearsal room.
“I’d met [Sanders] a while ago,” Avila said. “He recorded a friend of mine’s band called On Better Terms, and their album sounded really incredible. He just captured their sound to a tee, from live-to-record, record-to-live, it just correlated really well.”
Trauma Ray had played the grand opening of a friend’s skate shop the night before the session, and, despite being exhausted, the guys arrived at 9 the morning of to set up and record at a blistering pace. They completed basic tracking in five hours, before any other bands could show up to EMP and make noise through the walls that would taint the recordings.
Though Avila had recorded with a few other bands before, it was the first tracking experience for Perez, bassist Darren Baun, and drummer Nicholas Bobotas, and they are thrilled with what Sanders was able to accomplish.
“I couldn’t even really believe it was us,” Perez said. “I’d never gotten to hear myself recorded playing guitar or to hear these ideas [we had] come to fruition, so it was pretty awesome.”
Trauma Ray owes its origin to a mutual friend and a serendipitous exchange over the jukebox at a favorite bar. Last October, after moving back to the Fort from Oakland, where he’d spent five years, Perez was looking to start a band. He reached out to an old skate buddy, Dreamy Life’s Cameron Smith (War Party, Sur Duda, Andy Pickett Band), about an idea he had for a shoegaze project. Smith was busy recording War Party’s latest album, Pure Destroyer, at the time, as well as focusing more on his then-new solo project, Sur Duda. He suggested Perez should look up Avila, as he had also asked Smith about doing a shoegaze-type thing. For whatever reason, Perez never pursued it. Then, one night a few weeks later, Perez was passively listening to karaoke at The Boiled Owl Tavern when he kept hearing music from his favorite artists playing over the loudspeakers played by Avila.
The two began bouncing around ideas and playing guitar together the next week. In January, Avila recruited Baun and Bobotas to round out the lineup.
As well as promoting the new EP with the single “Relay,” Trauma Ray will celebrate the record release with a show at MASS on Fri, Sep. 21, featuring Gravedweller and Desert Museum. The band hopes that both the EP and the show will capture how they try to move their audience.
Perez said Avila’s lyrics deal with themes and emotions every member of the band has experienced, including regret, remorse, hindsight, and frustration.
“We hope the listener will get that as well,” Perez said. “But the magic of shoegaze is that you don’t even need to have discernable vocals. You don’t need to know what [singers] are saying to get the feeling of the music. You don’t need language, you don’t need lyrics – they can be there, but the overall experience of the music is the feeling you’re supposed to get.”
Trauma Ray EP release
8pm Fri, Sept 21, w/Gravedweller and Desert Museum at MASS, 1002 S Main St, FW. $5. 682-707-7774.