The Ongoing Explosion of Dallas' Power Trip

Categories: Feature Stories

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"Whiskey and yummy snacks."

Thus ends the rider for Dallas hardcore/thrash band Power Trip, whose recent ascent hasn't left a lot of time for fleshing out a list of things the band would like in its green room. Concert offers from Australia and Asia are coming in, in addition to three sets in four hours at South by Southwest, to be followed by a heavy touring schedule and a new EP.

"I wrote, verbatim, 'a bottle of whiskey and yummy snacks; various, assorted yummy snacks,'" says frontman Riley Gale by phone from his duplex, just east of U.S. 75 in Old East Dallas. "This rider business is new to me."

Although it's mid-afternoon on a weekday, Gale is at home, unwinding with his two dogs, Tommy and Mackie. He's just quit his day job, so he has time to relax before Power Trip's touring season begins in earnest. Power Trip -- Gale and Blake Ibanez, lead guitar; Chris Ulsh, drums; Nick Stewart, guitar; and Chris Whetzel, bass -- are coming off what could be considered a championship year for a crossover band: They garnered critical acclaim for their debut LP, the cinematic Manifest Decimation, drew praise from various scenes, and tightened a live show that matches the hype expanding around them.

Topping last year's Manifest (Southern Lord Recordings) could prove to be difficult. At eight songs in 35 minutes, it's a tightly wound, reverb-soaked album that's catchier and heavier than most modern hardcore. Just about everyone loved it. Pitchfork gave it an 8.0/10, putting it on par with buzzed-around groups like Crystal Castles, White Lung and Parquet Courts. Besides, who talks about a band's second album as being their best?

"Have you ever heard of the sophomore slump? I think we want to avoid that," Gale says dryly, adding that the band will release a new EP this year in preparation for its next album -- or as he jokes, to "pump out some stinkers at least, and get them out of the way this year."

A second LP might arrive in 2015, but he qualifies that projection: "We don't really think far in advance. I think sometimes bands can get stagnant with ideas," Gale says when asked about a follow-up.

But right now at the duplex, Gale's collecting unemployment and selling his band's deadstock merch on eBay. Like anyone who's ever been age 27, he's restless and wants to live somewhere other than his home state. He's eyeing Chicago. "I'm going to be 28 this year and I'd like to live outside of Texas before I'm 30," Gale says. But 925 miles to Chicago doesn't seem like it will slow the band's pace, says Power Trip's booking agent, Timmy Hefner.

Hefner -- he of Chaos in Tejas, the defunct Austin punk festival -- is already filling out the band's calendar: "They're going to keep touring hard and going for it, it's not slowing down," he says. As a roadie for Austin-based Iron Age in the mid-'00s, Hefner saw Power Trip in their earliest stages and eventually put them on Chaos in Tejas, raising the band's profile by putting them in front of all the weirdos who made the annual Memorial Day trek to Austin. "They were good then, but now they really know how to write songs," Hefner says of the band's five-year progression. "They crafted this awesome album."

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