What happens if you give a German jazz musician and a crusty US war veteran a guitar, a mic and six months of lockdown? A hardcore duo that can rock the socks off a horse.
Set to release on June 1st (just a month away!), ‘Innocence Abandoned‘ by German/US hardcore duo, TRUTH & TRAGEDY, follows the band’s ‘Thanks For Nothing’ and single “Helmand”, and today we’re thrilled to give you its first full listen, along with the band’s special commentary, track by track rundown and special, hilarious list of their favourite tracks based on the radio show ‘Desert Island Discs’ dubbed ‘End of the World Four-Horsemen Zombie Werewolves Demon Apocalypse Bunker Discs’. Dive into loads of details and the full feature below! You won’t find this in the mainstream media!
Freddy Stauss is responsible for the music and instruments of the band, is classically and jazz trained, and doesn’t shy away from a heavy riff, unforgiving breakdown or a finger-shredding solo in his composition of the album tracks. Aaron Bazen is the vocalist and lyricist, pulling on his experiences throughout the album as a combat engineer in Afghanistan with the US army, and isn’t afraid to lay bare the trauma, adventures, complexities and ghosts he encountered during his time there, and in its aftermath.
Pulling on jazz, classic rock, old country songs and outlaw ballads, T&T is bringing a new slice of hardcore to their listeners, and already have further singles queued following the release of ‘Innocence Abandoned’. Their manager and label are also in talks to get them on tour as soon as restrictions allow, and the pair have got a ‘T&T Live Crew’ of musicians ready and rehearsing for their live shows.
Truth & Tragedy is the hardcore duo your m others, teachers and priests warned you about. Whether you have a reason to rage or you’re in the market for another, T&T have plenty to go around: if it’s Freddy’s heavy riffs and unforgiving breakdowns you’ re after, or Aaron’s coarse scream s and predilection for guns, violence and outlaws, you might want to lend an ear. Formed in Bam berg, Germany in 2020, the US/German duo are the lovechild of lockdown boredom and a predisposition for being loud.
Although a far cry from his classical guitar and jazz scores, Frederik “ Shred it Fred” Stauss lets loose with his head-banging, concussion-inducing riffs, monstrously tantalizing breakdowns, and dizzying guitar solos that are sure to get your hackles up.
For screams that have neighbors unsure of whether to call the police or an exorcist, and lyrics that pull on old country outlaw ballads, gunslinger anthem s, and his own experiences as a soldier in Afghanistan, Aaron “ The Amazin’” Bazen takes you with him on the adventures, traum as, victories and ghosts which are at the heart of the duo’s music.
At times nihilistic, occasionally vengeful and always em otionally raw, Truth & Tragedy is exploding onto the hardcore scene, bringing a little darkness and a little light, and a whole lot of noise.
The band’s musical style can be described m ainly as a mix of metalcore and melodic hardcore, while bringing in stylistic aspects of punk, pop punk, slam core and m etal, as well as non-traditional m usical and lyrical influences from country m usic and jazz. The duo named bands like Casey, Stick To Your Guns and Being As An Ocean as their m usical influences. The duo divides song writing into two aspects; Stauss com poses and records the music, with Bazen writing and recording the lyrics.
Stauss draws on his experience as a trained jazz and classical m usician, com bining the rhythm ic and m elodic com plexities of these genres into the duo’s music. As well as composing the rhythm – and lead-guitar for their tracks, he also creates the basic scores for the bass guitar and drum . Singer and lyricist Bazen draws inspiration for his lyrics from his time serving as a combat engineer in Afghanistan, as well as taking inspiration from country-style storytelling and character-based narratives.
The lyrics deal with themes such as drugs, alcohol, guns and violence, as well as PTSD, alienation and trauma. Their single ‘Helm and’ focuses on biographical experiences and emotional conflict in the afterm ath of Bazen’s time served in Helm and Province, a theme further explored in their upcoming album , ‘Innocence Abandoned’ .
Words by Aaron Bazen and Freddy Stauss
‘Innocence Abandoned’ is our breakout album, in more ways than one. For a start, working with just the two of us, it’s liberating to finally make the music we’ve been dying to make, and it feels like ‘Innocence Abandoned’ is the product of a lot of years between us, just trying to find our sound. In Truth & Tragedy, we’ve found it.
As a duo, we split song writing right down the middle – Freddy handles the music and Aaron handles the lyrics, and then we come together and hash out anything we don’t like and alter bits we think can be improved. This way, we get a hell of a lot more done, because we both know each others strengths, we trust each others skills and we are both headed in the same creative direction for our music – plus, it cuts out the 4 or 5-way discussions we’ve had in previous bands where no one can agree, and by the time everyone’s compromised, no one’s happy with it. This makes our turnaround for songs a lot quicker, and gives us a lot of creative autonomy.
As a breakout album, ‘Innocence Abandoned’ is teeming with things that have been left unsaid for too long. It deals a lot with Aaron’s time as a combat engineer in Afghanistan with the US Army, and the adventures, traumas and ghosts he dealt with there, and still deals with, back in civilian life. Other tracks are, frankly, a massive “F*ck You” to some people that should have been told that a long time ago. We have a lot of fun with it; our tracks range from desolately futile to satisfyingly vengeful, and in true T&T style we’ve mixed in some gun-slinger narratives, had a go at some pop-punk, and we’ve even got a love ballad in there.
We’ve loved making the album, and we think once you hear it you will know we’ve laid our hearts bare in it – we hope you enjoy it, it’s as much for you as it is for us.
1. “Hear Me Out”
Our intro sets the tone of our album; a lot of things have been left unsaid for a long time, and in many ways this album aims to scream these things at the top of our lungs. It might be a cry for attention, or the hunt for approval; it might be laying some things to rest in our own heads. The main thing is – it has finally been said.
2. “Self Inflicted”
We had a lot of fun with this track. This is as nihilistic as they come, and Freddy did an amazing job with the music on this one – it just screams “I don’t give a f*ck”, and that’s where we went with it. Behind the scenes, it’s a lot about where blame lies when you turn out the way you do, and how accountable you are for your actions; which in the context of the rest of the album is a pretty interesting question. But we just love the track for its face value, and for the dream of playing it live as soon as Covid restrictions are lifted!
3. “The Depths”
‘The Depths’ deals with a feeling of life being out of control, being trapped, and on a downward spiral where there’s no getting out, which is something we can all relate to in life, at one point or another. The lyrics are definitely reflective of a state of mind from Aaron’s experiences following his time in Afghanistan, and this track contributes to the overall theme of lost innocence that inspired, and titles, ‘Innocence Abandoned’.
4. “Dear Irony”
When we say some tracks are a massive “F*ck You”, then this would be one of them. Our album is a lot about accepting yourself and what you’ve been through, as well as shedding some of those “less than savory characters” you’ve come across – see, we can be diplomatic sometimes. Plus some people are just assholes. Either way, sometimes you just have to get a little (or a lot) of spite out of your system. This song is for that.
‘Cope’ is kind of like ‘Self Inflicted’ part two, but behind all of the bravado; its a raw and honest depiction of self destruction, guilt, blame, and the struggles we all face to just cope. It deals heavily with substance abuse, emotional torment, and the demons many of us deal with. Special thanks to the very talented Natalie Schoe and Martin Kolb in the making of our music video for ‘Cope’!
6. Trial By Society (feat. Kapca93)
This one was inspired by Aaron’s upbringing in a staunchly Protestant society, and the strong aversion he had to it then, as well as to this day. To Aaron, in a lot of ways that rigidly Christian society was its own brand of child abuse, remembering times as a small child when he didn’t dare sleep because the preacher said he would burn in hell. That, combined with the fact no one ever seemed to have answers to the questions he had about religion, pretty much destroyed any chance of him showing up to church on Sundays. We can guarantee you won’t catch Freddy in the confession box much either. We collaborated with German hip-hop artist Kapca93 on this one (big thanks to him!) and we’re really pleased with how it turned out.
7. Burn The Witch
You got it, it’s another revenge song, which in our view is absolutely perfect for pop-punk. This one was a lot of fun to play and record, and the two of us have always wanted to try our hand at some pop-punk – plus, Freddy nailed it with his signature breakdown to give it the T&T feel. Lyrically, Aaron had a good time writing it – but we’ll leave it at that.
Remember we mentioned a love ballad? Yes, even two crusty old goth kids are capable of a bit of sweetness now and then. The lyrics speak for themselves, and special thanks to the lovely Clara Steppert for adding her harmonies into the mix!
Released as a single in December 2020, ‘Helmand’ is really at the heart of the whole album, and goes a long way to explain the themes explored in the rest of the tracks. Musically and lyrically, the song is split into two aspects, depicting the emotional conflict of Aaron’s return from Helmand Province, Afghanistan; both the aversion to the place, as well as the inextricable draw to go back there. Commonly felt by soldiers, and undoubtedly many people faced with different traumas, ‘Helmand’ is a harsh and unforgiving light on the complexities and issues raised when innocence is lost.
Part two of ‘Helmand’, ‘Carcass’ is the brutal and unrelenting finale of our album. Inspired by old country and gun-slinger anthems, it’s a story of a fatally-destined man desperately trying to take control of his life through the only means he knows how – violence and destruction. It’s the nihilistic and disastrous end result of all of the characters, moments and emotions within the whole album, and acts as a kind of fable: a warning of what happens when innocence has been totally abandoned.
Truth & Tragedy’s ‘End of the World Four-Horsemen Zombie Werewolves Demon Apocalypse Bunker Discs’, by Aaron Bazen and Freddy Stauss
Inspired by ‘Desert Island Discs’, a long running, tasteful, and very successful BBC radio show where musicians and celebrities choose 8 tracks, a book and a luxury item to be stranded on a desert island with, we at T&T have chosen to create our own list: Our ‘End of the World Four-Horsemen Zombie Werewolves Demon Apocalypse Bunker Discs’ – because that’s more hardcore and that’s how we like it.
Between us, we have chosen 8 tracks, one possession each, and one video each to live out the rest of our days as T&T in a bunker, while you all run around turning into zombies, werewolves and being haunted. We’ll kick off with Freddy:
1. “Teeth” – Casey, chosen by Freddy.
For me, this track is the definition of melodic hardcore. The atmospheric sound of the clean guitar at the beginning of the track creates a melancholic mood, almost one of nostalgia. The song rises steadily, and the climax is skillfully delayed. When it does finally hit, it’s announced by a clean, basic scream by the singer from which the music builds, which is something I generally like, and is a progression I often incorporate into my own writing, for example in “Helmand”. This song is a great example of telling a story from the musical structure alone.
2. “Living on the Run” – David Allan Coe, chosen by Aaron.
This song is outlaw as f*ck. I’m a huge fan of old country, as well as emerging artists like Colter Wall and Tyler Childers who are bringing country back to its old gun-slinging, outlaw ways. The way in which Coe tells a man’s whole life story in this two-and-a-half minute song, by telling you just as much as you need to know and leaving the rest to your imagination, is a skill every writer (not just in songs) strives for. I bring a lot of these narratives into my own writing – I think its easy for songs in our genre to get stuck in a rut of “I am unhappy, and this is why”, which is valid, but can start to get repetitive. I think characters and stories in songs can still express that, but can offer something deeper for each listener to respond differently to. Plus Coe nailed it with the backing singers on this one.
3. “Can’t Wait For Perfect” – Bob Reynolds Guitar Band, chosen by Freddy.
While Aaron’s off with his gunfights and general outlawing, I tend to have my head stuck in some jazz scores. For me, this track is the epitome of jazz and its musicality; Bob Reynolds is a master of the sax, and knows exactly which notes to play and when, but more importantly, when not to play them. The rhythmic balance formed by the bass line and drums combined with the subtle yet targeted use of the guitar gives the song an effortless feel, and one that keeps you engaged throughout each phase of the piece. It’s true there might not be many obvious crossovers between jazz and hardcore, but there are aspects of jazz composition which inspire me in my music writing for Truth & Tragedy, and this is without doubt one of those tracks.
4. “Bad Listener” – Beartooth, chosen by Aaron.
This is an anthem of defiance, and especially anyone who has experienced this song live will join me in saying that it’s probably one of the best hardcore songs ever made. A bigger statement of rejecting the pressures and banality of “normal” society is hard to find. It makes you want to rage, but in a good way.
5. “Black Smoke Rising” – Greta Van Fleet, chosen by Freddy.
This band was still very young when I first came across them, and they were fascinating to me right from the start. They manage to capture the sound and vibe of 70s rock n roll and present it in a modern guise. I especially like this song because of the simple but very catchy main riff, and of course the extraordinary voice of the singer. Rock n roll never dies.
6. “Lay Your Hands On Me” – Bon Jovi, chosen by Aaron.
I was essentially born and raised on Bon Jovi, and his music was played on repeat in my mom’s car when I was a young child; so as my first exposure to rock music, his songs are right in the recesses of my mind. As a kid, I wanted to be him, and to be honest, I probably still do. He’s iconic, a showman, his stage presence is insane and his music is full of stories and theater. This track is one of many favorites.
7. “Rainbow in the Dark” – Ronnie James Dio, chosen by Freddy.
This song is a classic metal anthem, and I’m sure it would appear on many people’s list. The iconic keyboard melody at the beginning of this track just sticks in your head and makes you feel euphoric. With Dio’s insanely powerful voice and that awesome, harmonious guitar solo, I can’t think of a better track to be stuck with forever. This song was one of the reasons I started playing guitar as a kid, and it reminds me of my musical beginnings every time I listen to it.
8. “Rockstar” – Nickelback, chosen by Aaron.
Everyone hates Nickelback, and they hate Nickelback for absolutely no reason. That’s proven by the fact everyone in the world knows the words to this song, whether they want to admit it or not. I f*cking love Nickelback. I don’t care what youtube, or tumblr, or facebook thinks about Nickelback, I only care what Chad Kroger thinks. And if I was going to die alone, or with Freddy, in an apocalypse bunker, then I’d want to do it to this song.
Freddy’s possession: I’d take my acoustic guitar (for Nickelback covers).
Aaron’s possession: I’d take my old sweatpants which I’ve had since I was 16, they’re just getting to that comfy stage.
If you’re reading this and realize you too have an ‘End of the World Four-Horsemen Zombie Werewolves Demon Apocalypse Bunker Discs’ list laying around somewhere, then hit us up on social media; it’s been an interesting task making our list, and we’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Plus, maybe when the big day comes we can do swapsies.
Till then, T&T