The Syracuse-based independent power trio and cuck-rock band Trauma Cat lets us sink our teeth into their hard-hitting 15-track album, 'Prepare to Apologize.'
Widely credited as the founders of cuck-rock, the genre-blending trio is comprised of Ralph Kojig, Roman Pando, and Rutger DiBoyere. More recently, the band released their debut full-length album entitled 'Prepare to Apologize.' When asked about the project, bassist/vocalist Roman Pando mentioned, "Unfortunately, we did put a lot of work into the album, so much that we ultimately decided our only fitting punishment for doing so would be to release and promote it recklessly. We're sorry."
Co-produced with the elusive St. Julian P. Dingus, the album opens with its introductory and title track, "Prepare to Apologize." The track consists of a behind-the-scenes creative dispute amongst the band members when creating the intro track. While the members continue bickering about whether they should create an acapella track or not, the song quickly shifts into a powerful acapella where Ralph Kojig and Roman Pando serenade us with the album's title.
Seamlessly transitioning into the second track, "Indivisible," Trauma Cat makes their breathtaking instrumental appearance with Ralph Kojig's scorching rhythm guitar, Roman Pando's thumping bass licks, and Rutger DiBoyere's punchy drum breaks. As Ralph Kojig begins singing a conceptual story of leaving words unsaid and keeping crimes in one's head, Trauma Cat keeps us grooving through the track with their tight and upbeat instrumentation. As they exude this ominous and dark tone over the track, we can't help but hear similarities to Geddy Lee's bass licks and Flea's tight guitar arrangements.
Through another seamless transition, Trauma Cat and their hefty instrumentals move into the album's third track, "Trauma Cat." The band truly leaves us on the edge of our seat with this powerhouse bop, as their lively, fiery, and rhythmic instrumentals bring us into a scorching hot sonic atmosphere while throwing us into adventures of the past and future. We can't get enough of the minimal vocal appearances within this track, as Trauma Cat chants their band's name in this electrifying and cinematic way while letting their instrumentals do all the talking. With added harmonies near the end, Trauma Cat leads us towards the outro of this lively, high-energy, and ferocious tune.
Jumping into the album's fourth track, "Joshua," Trauma Cat opens the track with DiBoyere's mid-tempo drums, Pando's tight bass riffs, and Kojig's tight electric guitar bursts. As Kojig begins bringing listeners into a heartfelt and reminiscent story of his relationship with "Joshua," he continues describing how the relationship later turned south, where his family and friends shamed him for being around someone so dreadful. We adore the conceptual tales of this album thus far, as Trauma Cat has introduced us to various stories and tales merely within four tracks. Listening deeper to the song's instrumentals, Trauma Cat brings us into an incredibly vibrant listening experience through the song's dynamic range and groovy feel.
Slowing it down with the fifth track, "Jellyfish," Trauma Cat brings listeners into yet another highly conceptual and detailed storyline. As Kojig and Pando fuel the song with their tender and smooth-sailing guitar/bass, DiBoyere and his downtempo drum patterns make for a soothing and calming experience. Listening to Roman Pando's lyricism, he steers away from typical lyrical delivery and offers more of a spoken word approach. While reciting a memory of traveling to the Boston Aquarium back in the day, he later expands on the mesmerizing movements of its jellyfish, only to go back years later and find out that they've all passed on. We adore this song's intimate and personal approach, as Kojig brings us into his family's dynamic and personal thoughts through his striking and compelling words.
Onto the next track, "Cmnd/Ctrl," the same bluesy and downtempo instrumentals continue from the song prior, but this time around, Kojig and Pando take on a more saddening lyrical approach, as their melodies and words seep through our speakers like a slow-flowing river. While the instrumentals begin to expand with DiBoyere's bright and banging drum breaks, the accompanying instrumentals continue to drift into this transcendent motion through Pando and Kojig's emotional and dynamic delivery. We can't get enough of the band's ever-changing instrumentals and in-depth transitions as they blast us towards the next track.
Through the next track, "The Man In the Padded Room," Trauma Cat brings us into their witty and creative approaches through a thirty-second interlude where an 'elderly' man is missing his 43-year-old granddaughter Allison while trapped in a padded room. As he aches and groans in distress, we love the comedic approach that the band has taken as they continue emphasizing the man's confusion while transitioning into the next track.
With the album's eighth track, "Lob a Grenade," the instrumentals take us on a blistering and high-energy journey right from the jump. What stands out the most is Roman Pando's heavy bassline, as he leads the way alongside DiBoyere's spicy drum arrangements and Kojig's luminous electric guitar. We feel heavy Rush vibes from this track, but we must also mention how Trauma Cat delivers this upbeat 60 surf-rock approach towards the song's second half. We're truly impressed by Trauma Cat's dense instrumental arrangements within this fiery and upbeat track, as they leave us wanting more dense and lively tunes like this.
Getting us in the groove of the album's next track, "Gray Ledge," the track opens with Trauma Cat's dense and ominous instrumental arrangements. While the song takes off with mysterious, dark, and midtempo tones, Pando's bassline takes us by the hand and leads us into the fiery pits of this track alongside Kojig's bright electric guitar and DiBoyere's fresh drum breaks. As Roman Pando tells an intimate and emotional story of fleeing from the trauma and emotions brought by a toxic relationship, he's perfectly complemented by the band's savory instrumentals while taking us to the album's next track.
Crashing our speakers with the mysterious and sci-fi tones of the next interlude, "It Speaks," Trauma Cat opens the song with a squealing synth that later drops into a terrifying and dark instrumental breakdown alongside a demonic voice, inviting us into a new friendship. As the interlude continues to haunt us with an intense vocal sample and Trauma Cat's haunting instrumental arrangements, they take us into the heat and scorcher of the album's next tune.
The eleventh track, "Fire in the Jail," opens like a breath of fresh air through Kojig's tight electric guitar bursts, DiBoyere's rhythmic drum patterns, and Pando's tight bass licks. As Kojig begins singing of playing the game of life only to come out strong in the end, he later reminds us of his innate desire to walk away from something so painful and grueling. We can't help but groove away with Trauma Cat's intense and rocking instrumentals, especially as they blast us into nostalgic heat with reverbed electric guitars around the song's hook, piercing our speakers with haunting tones and effects until the very end.
Bringing us into the album's next track, "Honey, Your Heart is a Hurricane," Trauma Cat delivers yet another highly emotional and instrumentally intricate tune. As Kojig begins describing the brave and courageous heart of a young lover, he later reminds her to stay true to who she is and to avoid letting outside talk interfere with her wellbeing. Trauma Cat has our feet tapping all throughout this intense and rigid sonic journey, as their upbeat instrumentals and nostalgic approach have us deep in a trance with their intense transitions and conceptual stories. Ending the song with a powerhouse outro, Trauma Cat leads us to the project's thirteenth song.
Through the album's next track, "Freaks with Wings," Trauma Cat opens the song with boundless lust and desire through their bright and anthemic instrumentals that set the song's introspective and reflective feel. As Roman Pando makes his mysterious vocal appearance alongside the tender baseline and DiBoyere's light drum breaks, he continues to describe stories of school kids attempting to find themselves through every adventure that life throws their way. While the instrumentals continue to expand into a foot-stomping and lively feel, the hook drops with intense major/minor shifts while leaving us feeling as refreshed and invigorated as ever.
Throughout Trauma Cat's album, we've noticed the project switch and transition into a more calming and tender sonic feel, especially as the next track, "Zeros and Ones," melts through our speakers with boundless passion and emotion. As Kojig starts singing a poetic story of nature's inhales and exhales, he leaves us pondering and contemplating life's ups, downs, and unpredictable ways. We honestly feel compelled to expand on Trauma Cat's ability to merge poetic lyricism with soothing instrumentation, as this song sweetens our speakers with lush basslines, downtempo drums, and jazzy electric guitar melodies. As the song comes to a heated end through the band's intense instrumental transitions, Trauma Cat makes their way to the album's final track.
Gracing our ears with another introspective and poetic spoken word through the outro track, "Epilogue," Trauma Cat sets the sonic tone with their tender instrumentals and hazy soundscape. We love the 60s blues-rock appeal of the instrumentals, as it sets us up for an intense and heavy outro experience. As a demonic Kojig makes his vocal appearance and begins letting us into his personal struggles, his vocals deliver this continuous change as they drift back and forth from normal to a lower and more demonic vocal tone. While he touches on contemplating the power of our existence and the world around us, the album comes to a sweet and savory end while leaving listeners wanting more conceptual and detailed projects like this.
Catch Trauma Cat's conceptual debut album, 'Prepare to Apologize,' on all digital streaming platforms, and fall head over heels for the band's detailed lyricism and dynamic instrumental soundscapes.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, Trauma Cat. We're wildly impressed with the entirety of your in-depth debut album, 'Prepare to Apologize.' How long was this record in the making? Which tracks did you create first?
Oh my gosh, so sorry you feel that way. Truly, we apologize. The recording, mixing, and mastering process didn't actually take that long—only a few months. The majority of the material had been written before the formation of the band, but the arrangements came together pretty seamlessly once everyone at Trauma Cat HQ was on the same page with the vision. “Freaks With Wings” was the first song tracked. Aside from that, we pretty much recorded in the same order as the final tracklist. We spent a fair amount of time mapping out the sequence and flow before ever going into the studio. Actually, a lot of the sequencing we figured out while writing setlists for our few badly executed and poorly attended shows.
Was there a specific moment in time that inspired your group to take on such a dynamic and conceptual 15-track album like 'Prepare to Apologize?'
We unfortunately never got the memo that the entire music industry had shifted and is now only interested in singles. And given the fact that we don't have meaningful lives outside of writing this self-indulgent “music,” we actually had to trim down the tracklist considerably. It oddly just sort of happened on its own, with very little debate or deliberation. Alas, we have no idea what we're doing. Sorry about that.
Which track within 'Prepare to Apologize' is your band's favorite? Which songs are you most drawn to and why?
Ralph is partial to “Gray Ledge” because Roman sings that one, and Ralph has a phobia of his own voice. He also loves the way that “Zeros and Ones” came together with its two movements, and how it ties in lyrically with the Epilogue, which is also a reprise of “Gray Ledge.” Roman, at gunpoint, might admit that “Honey, Your Heart Is a Hurricane” is his favorite on the album because of its frankly disorienting structure. We thrive on discomfort—it’s cleansing. Now, speaking on behalf of our drummer Rutger (who is non-verbal), we don't think he likes any of it.
What inspired your group to fuel your album, 'Prepare to Apologize,' with various spoken word poems? How do the poems add to and amplify the album's concept and theme?
“The Jellyfish” happened live one night while Ralph was struggling to recall the lyrics to “CMND/CTRL.” Anticipating an oncoming panic attack, Roman piped in with a semi-autobiographical account of his love-drunk misadventures with an aquatic invertebrate. “The Man in the Padded Room” is, we believe, an actual live recording of a senile man who wandered into the vocal booth and mistook it for a padded containment cell. The Epilogue is just Ralph rambling incoherently while high on a cocktail of psychedelics. These recordings found their way onto the album because, again, we have little to no idea what we're doing.
What's next for Trauma Cat?
Ideally, not much. But, unfortunately, we have a second album nearly finished and quite a bit more material written beyond that. There’s also a lot of “content” not otherwise known as music in the pipeline, we’re sad to say. So, really, as much as the band would like to throw in the towel, we seem to be hopelessly caught in the merciless gravitational pull of the black hole that is our collective creative endeavors. Sorry about that!