Warped Tour’s cross-country runs may have concluded, but the music hasn’t. The U.K. band Trash Boat released their new album Crown Shyness while out on the 2018 run, and it’s bursting with some unique and thoughtful “upbeat” heavy music. Vocalist Tobi Duncan describes their sound as “Rise Against meets Comeback Kid,” pushing a mixture of driving energy and (carefully used) heaviness. It’s fresh — and the easiest way to appreciate the nuances is to listen.
Crown Shyness As A Phenomena
“Crown shyness” itself describes a situation where trees growing right next to each other don’t actually touch. Their uppermost branches, despite growing into the very same canopy, remain clearly separated. In similar fashion, sometimes, large numbers of us get together — like at Warped — and yet, some of us remain feeling so alone.
Duncan saw an opportunity to explore these very familiar issues via the enigmatic phenomena of “crown shyness” after learning of it while touring Australia.
“I started to pull a bunch of metaphors from it about connection and loneliness and all these things that spoke to me,” he explains. “I felt like I could use the metaphors as a foundation for the lyrics, like using crown shyness as a concept. It’s like a vein that runs through all of the songs.”
That vein supports songs that are personal for Duncan. He’s pouring himself into Trash Boat — this band is no part time gig or just for show.
“Crown Shyness was very personally driven — that’s how I write,” he continues. “That’s the only thing that I can make believable, because I’m drawing on personal experience. I’ve done this for the last two albums, where I’ve considered thoughts and feelings and instances in my life. I’ve delved into how I really feel about them and then whatever came out was in the song… I’ve never really done a full conceptual art piece where I enter someone else’s head space… and write a full concept album that isn’t really true to anything that’s happened in my life… I’d love to think that I could do that for the next album maybe. It would be good to branch out — but this album was very much a personal accounting.”
Crown Shyness As A ‘Personal Accounting’
That “personal accounting” included Duncan penning the lyrics to the song “Controlled Burn,” which he explains as “about taking personal responsibility for my decisions.” Songs like that — and they’ve all got some personal touch for him — provide windows into the singer’s mental processes.
“I like to challenge myself,” he says. “If I’m challenging things that I may not like about the way I act or think or feel — when I write them in a song, and it’s there and I have to perform it in a set everyday, it’s almost like a reminder to check myself and to see the truth that I’ve put out in this artwork. If I’m putting something in a song and I’m going to perform it on stage, it’s because I feel like it’s the truest and purest thing I can put out, and reminding myself of that every day is important to me.”
Not everyone will connect with the exact stories told in the songs, but some will. Put differently, at times we will have our branches intertwined and touching, and at other times, we won’t.
Crown Shyness represents Duncan’s own, personal perspective on our lives down here “under the trees.” In a sense, that’s the take that any of us will always be most at home with sharing. “Crown shyness” is built into our existence, because we’re all unique. Trash Boat’s new album bridges the gap between these different sides of uniqueness and community, providing an experience that Duncan hopes listeners can invest themselves in.
“I didn’t write it for anyone else necessarily. I’d probably say that I didn’t even write it for me,” he explains. “I just wrote it, but I know from personal experience listening to albums that whether they were directed at the listener or whether they were a purely introspective personal experience for the artist didn’t matter to me really. If I listened to it, and I related to it, and there was power and artistry and purity in it, I’d latch onto it. I would relate to it personally even if it wasn’t about things that were personally relatable in my life, even if it was just an absolute tune that just cut me right to my center and I knew that I’d love to experience it live and just be there with it. That’s what I want people to take away. I just hope that it hits people hard enough that they think, ‘holy shit, I want to be a part of this.'”
Keeping The Music Community Thriving
Duncan explains that — from his viewpoint up on stage — Crown Shyness is achieving his aims to connect people. The crowds at his band’s sets during the closing weeks of 2018’s Warped Tour — following the album’s release — just got bigger and bigger, he says. Bridging the divide between bands and listeners and thereby strengthening the community has often been touted as an exemplary feature of Warped Tour, and don’t forget the plenty of other tours that continue to accomplish the same in the absence of the high profile yearly trek across the U.S.
While fans have invested more of themselves in his work, Duncan has kept at it, too.
“It’s kept me busy. That’s the bottom line. That’s what you’re supposed to do in life, really — just carry on and make the absolute best of any situation that you’re in no matter what happens to you or what you do to yourself. I could be poetic about it, and I could say all these individual things that I feel I have achieved. At the end of the day, the greatest thing that I’ve achieved is something that kills time that I absolutely love doing. It’s given me all these opportunities to make connections and friendships with other people and just have a life and just have all these experiences.”
“It’s just something to do, isn’t it?” Duncan, quips, laughing. “That’s the meat and potatoes of it. There’s so much more to it, obviously, but at its core, it’s something to do and it’s something that I absolutely love. That’s the most important thing.”
At the end of the day, maybe that’s the case — but via Crown Shyness, you, the listener, can have “something to do” too.
Photo via Christian Mora. Find him on Instagram as @_starxlord_.
Listen via Spotify below.