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...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
|Origin||Austin, Texas, U.S.|
|Genres||Alternative rock, post-hardcore, progressive rock, art rock|
|Labels||Dine Alone, Superball Music, Justice Records, Interscope, Merge, Domino, Trance Syndicate, Richter Scale/Universal|
|Associated acts||Mukilteo Fairies, A Roman Scandal, Forget Cassettes, Bad Religion, TheStart, Midnight Masses|
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (often abbreviated as Trail of Dead, or T.o.D., which reads as "death" in German) are an American alternative rock band from Austin, Texas, formed in 1994. The chief members of the band are Jason Reece and Conrad Keely (formerly Conrad Sobsamai). The two alternate between drumming, guitar and lead vocals, both on recordings and live shows. The band is known for their wild, energetic concerts. Their tenth studio album, X: The Godless Void and Other Stories, was released on January 17, 2020.
Keely and Reece have been friends since their youth, and originally in Hawaii. They each formed their first bands in Olympia, Washington, where Keely studied at The Evergreen State College. Keely, a songwriter and bassist named James Olsen and a guitarist (Paul Westmoreland) started a band in the early 1990s. The band was called varied things before settling on "Benedict Gehlen" (named after a monk laid to rest in the St. Martin's Abby in Olympia). That went on in various names and forms until 1993. Soon after, Keely became involved in a group called Nancyville, while Reece went on to play drums with Honeybucket and then queercore band Mukilteo Fairies (the name is a play on words, referencing the ferry boat that travels between Mukilteo and Clinton, Washington). Eventually, Keely and Reece moved to Austin, Texas. The two started playing as a duo under the moniker "You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead." The band expanded eventually to include guitarist Kevin Allen and bassist Neil Busch. They then officially lengthened their name to ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. Keely's girlfriend from Olympia, Deanne Rowley (later Deanne McAdams), briefly played with them as a live back-up guitarist.
In 1995, Trail of Dead issued their first release, a song titled "Novena Without Faith" on a cassette-only compilation titled Austin Live Houses, followed by another self-titled four-song cassette on Golden Hour. In January 1998, they released a self-titled full-length on Trance Syndicate.
Trail of Dead soon with Merge Records after the Trance Syndicate label folded. The band released Madonna on Merge in late 1999 and toured the U.S., opening for labelmates Superchunk to promote it. They signed to Interscope Records and released the Relative Ways EP in 2001.
In early 2002, Trail of Dead released Source Tags & Codes, which received wide acclaim, including a 10/10 rating from Pitchfork Media, later saying it is "one of indie rock's truly epic albums". Their following tour was chronicled by Rolling Stone, with Andrew Dansby commenting on their group dynamic as a "post-punk Voltron, that just might be the most exciting unit working today."
A follow-up EP to Source Tags & Codes was released in April 2003, titled The Secret of Elena's Tomb. The EP contained the electronic track "Intelligence" which featured and was co-written by Tyler Jacobson from A Roman Scandal, Reece's other band.
In July 2004, it was announced that Neil Busch had been removed from the band and Danny Wood would be taking his place on bass. Second drummer/percussionist Doni Schroader also joined the band around this time. Trail of Dead released Worlds Apart on January 25, 2005. Music videos were filmed for singles "And the Rest Will Follow" and "Caterwaul". The band also added live keyboardist David Longoria to their touring lineup. Now a six-piece, the band toured heavily on the album, with its trademark explosive live performances and a two-drummer attack. Opening for part of this tour was Longoria's band The Black, which featured Longoria on vocals and guitarist Alan Schaefer, with the rest of TOD filling out the group. The band's fifth album, So Divided, was released on November 14, 2006. Clay Morris replaced Longoria as live keyboardist, and eventually became a full-time member.
In late summer of 2007, Trail of Dead once again toured Europe, this time with drummer Aaron Ford replacing Doni Schroader. Danny Wood was absent from these performances, having quietly left the band. He would eventually be replaced by Jay Leo Phillips. The band provided the soundtrack to the 2007 film Hell on Wheels, a documentary about the formation of Roller Derby in Austin, Texas. After their overseas tour ended on March 15, 2007, Trail of Dead returned to the studio to begin recording their sixth record. In October, they supported the virtual band Dethklok on an Adult Swim college tour. In that same month, the band became independent after leaving Interscope Records due to a lack of support.
In early 2008, Trail of Dead went back into the studio without a record contract. Using their own capital, they filmed their recording experiences and released them on YouTube. On October 21, they released an EP, resembling an "album teaser", titled Festival Thyme on Richter Scale Records. On February 17, 2009, a 13-track album, The Century of Self was released. In September 2010, Keely posted news of an upcoming album 2011 release, produced by Chris "Frenchie" Smith, with an accompanying comic book. Smith is also set to re-mix their debut eponymous album. On November 10, 2010, the band announced that their seventh album, Tao of the Dead, would be released in North America on February 8, 2011. It was also revealed that the band had stripped down to a core four-piece, and that Jay Phillips, Clay Morris and longtime guitarist Kevin Allen had been removed from the lineup. Circumstances of these departures are currently unknown. Aaron Ford recorded all of the drums for Tao of the Dead, but then left the band. The band performed live on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on February 7, 2011, debuting bassist Autry Fulbright II (from Reece side project Midnight Masses) and drummer/guitarist Jamie Miller, of the band theSTART. On February 17, 2011, it was announced that Reece would guest host Toby Ryan's radio show on Austin's KROX-FM (101X).
In 2012, the band recorded material for a new album in Hanover, Germany again with producer Frenchie Smith and engineer Mirko Hofmann. On August 22, the band announced their eighth studio album, Lost Songs, and released a song entitled "Up To Infinity", which was dedicated to Pussy Riot. Cover art was revealed on September 6, 2012. On September 25, they released "Catatonic" through Spotify.
In May 2013, the band announced a forthcoming EP Tao of the Dead Part III via Twitter. Using PledgeMusic, they were taking pre-orders for special ions of the EP. In February 2014, the band announced a limited U.S. tour focused on playing music from Source Tags and Codes and plans to record their next album, a sequel to Tao of the Dead, in the spring and summer of 2014. In April 2014, they released the album Live at Rockpalast 2009. In August 2014, the band announced their ninth album, IX, using an online jigsaw puzzle. Pitchfork suggested "the arrival at a crossroads" for the band with the album. After a subsequent tour the band, Keely moved to Cambodia and released his debut solo album, Original Machines, in 2016. In November 2017, the band announced a European tour to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the release of their debut album, Madonna, performing the album in full.
On November 14, 2019, the band released "Don't Look Down," the first single from their tenth album, X: The Godless Void and Other Stories. The second single, "The Godless Void", was released on December 6, 2019.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July 2014)
The band cites their influences to include Fugazi, Melvins, Bikini Kill, Bauhaus, Echo and the Bunnymen, KARP, Unwound, Sonic Youth, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Public Enemy, Yes, Johann Sebastian Bach and Vivaldi.
|1998||...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead||–||–||–||Trance Syndicate|
|2002||Source Tags & Codes||73||–||64||Interscope Records|
|2009||The Century of Self||–||169||38||Richter Scale/Justice Records|
|2011||Tao of the Dead||NA||NA||18||Richter Scale/Superball Music|
|2020||X: The Godless Void and Other Stories||–||–||19||Richter Scale/Dine Alone Records|
[We’re] using some keyboards that are sort of synth-y and ’80s-sounding and bringing that into the mix of our noisy guar itrock—not doing it in a New Wave fashion but that darker pop. I love Echo & The Bunnymen and Bauhaus and all of that music, and there’s definitely British influence to our music.
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