by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Black Smoke Trigger

by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Black Smoke Trigger

Determined and evidently well-connected, Hawkes Bay rock act Black Smoke Trigger have come a long way from their earliest days in Napier. Aiming for distant shores the band has great streaming numbers, a stellar team and a debut album on the 2024 horizon. NZ On Air Music added their latest single The Way Down to the NewTracks compilation in November.

What are your names and instruments you each play?

Baldrick Rasmussen – vocals, Charlie Wallace – guitar, Dan Fulton – bass, Josh Te Maro – drums.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

Baldrick: Not so much for myself. I know Josh studied music in Auckland and Dan has studied music a lot on his own time and even used to teach it. Charlie and I are pretty much self-taught, but I did start getting some vocal lessons in 2019.

Any other projects that we might know you from?

Yeah, actually we used to have a band called Horusset that Charlie and Baldrick were part of. Josh came in towards the end, before we decided to make a new band, and start fresh with Black Smoke Trigger.

What’s the background to how Black Smoke Trigger came to be? 

Baldrick: I’ve known Charlie for a long time now and we’ve played in a few different bands together over the years. I saw Charlie at a party one night and showed him some demos that I had been working on and he asked me who was singing. I was singing on those tracks but was only interested in playing guitar at that time. Eventually I wound up putting the guitar down and singing for Charlie’s band Horusset. I was with them a year or two before we decided to start fresh with a new band and new tunes. Josh had jammed with us before and was a beast on the drums, so I suggested him as the drummer for what would become BST and Charlie agreed. We knew Dan from the local music scene also. Dan was an obvious choice as he’s by far the best bass player we know!

How did you come up with the name for the new project?

We wanted something easy to remember. A collection of words that would bring us to mind whenever they’re seen or heard.

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

Baldrick: Personally, the biggest highlights for me have been working with Michael Wagener (Ozzy Osbourne, Lordi, Megadeth, Metallica) on the EP, and with Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Danzig, Korn) on the album. I love the studio environment and seeing the ideas come to life.

How has your music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

When we started writing together, we only had three months to write all of the songs for our debut EP. Time was not our friend, and we were literally finishing lyrics in the early hours of the morning, knowing we had to record the songs the next day. With the upcoming album ‘Horizons’ we had a lot more time to write and develop our songwriting skills. We spent the better part of two years putting everything under a microscope, so to speak, and it has done wonders for our music. When you hear the album you’ll hear how far we’ve come. The songs speak for themselves.

What makes The Way Down stand out for you as a single?

It was difficult to choose a single for this album, as we were confident a lot of the songs would make great singles. There were two in particular that we thought would make a great first single. Ultimately we wanted to lead out with a hard hitting rock song. Something that says, “This is who we are…” and The Way Down suited that perfectly.

What’s the story behind The Way Down?

The Way Down was the first song we wrote together after recording our first EP, ‘Set It Off’, with Michael Wagener. We had an idea of what kind of sound we wanted, and we were really excited about where things were going with the band. This was right around lockdown time, so we had a lot of free rein to spend on writing the track.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

Baldrick: I like the way the last chorus leads out of the song and the vocal part over that, because you only hear it once. That particular vocal part was improvised in the studio and made it to the final mix.

Who did you record/produce the single with and where?

The instrumentals of the song were mostly written here in Hawkes Bay during lockdown. Charlie and Dan came up with what would become the backbone of the song rhythmically. We played around with it for a while and even worked with some friends of ours, Blair Daly, Mari Frederiksen and Zac Maloy to give the song that extra kick it needed and finalise the lyrics. We recorded it with Nick Raskulinecz at his Rock Falcon studio in Nashville and at our Sleeping Giant Studio here in Hawkes Bay. Nick was also the producer of the album.

What would you like listeners to take away from The Way Down?

We want our listeners to know that rock music is alive and well after hearing this song.

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

Whatever song sums us up as a group the best is usually what we will lead with as a single. We like to be dynamic and explore different sounds and ideas, but at the end of the day we are a rock band, so we like to put a rocking track up front.

Who else is in your team?

Since 2019 we have been putting together a great team around the band. We have our manager Andy Gould, an absolute legend in the business, known for Linkin Park, Rob Zombie & Pantera. We have a great marketing team and PR agencies that we are working with now in both the UK and USA to help spread the world. We just worked with producer Nick Raskulinecz who did an incredible job on the new album, even flying to NZ when we needed him. We have Andhe Chandler, our day manager who takes care of anything we need on a daily basis, and all our social media/admin etc. He doubles as our guitar/stage tech too so that’s handy.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your track.

Baldrick: I’m going on personal preference here, but if I had to pick three bands, I’d say…

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks?

We haven’t actually applied to NZOA for this album, we self-funded.

Who did you make the music video with?

We worked with director Anthony Plant. We had a strong vision for this video and wrote nearly all of the script ourselves – Anthony did an awesome job bringing everything together once again. 

Any last words?

Only that we love our fans and we can’t wait to get out there again and start performing for them.

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