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Afresh: What is your name, and name your group/band/act?
Usha Rajbhandari of Trials

Afresh: Where are the artists from?  What is their talent in the group?

Trials is based in Chicago. Mark Sugar (guitar/vocal), Adam Kopecky (drums) and I are from Chicago, and our other guitar player, Remy Walle, moved here from New York after joining the band.

Afresh: How did the band get the name?

Our former drummer, Sasha Horn, came up with it.

Afresh: What instrument do you play now? (If applicable)

Bass Guitar.

Afresh: What (who) does your act/art consist of?

We’re a metal band.

Afresh: How would you describe your music/art/entertainment for the public audience if they have never seen you before?

Superficially speaking, I think it’s pretty self explanatory. We’re heavy, loud, and fast. But, we also incorporate a lot of melody and harmony, including clean vocals, as well as progressive rhythms and modal concepts.

Afresh:  If you had to describe your music in three or four words, what would you call it?

Progressive Thrash Metal

Afresh: Give me some details about the group/act/art?

Anything of consequence is in our music. Watch or listen for the details, I guess.

Afresh: What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)

The subject matter is diverse and generally pretty dark. If you want “feel good” music, Trials is probably not what you’re looking for.

Afresh: How long have you been performing live or making art?

I started performing with a band at 15.

Afresh:  If you had to categorize your music, what genre would it best fit?  (Name up to three)


Afresh:  What do you feel distinguishes “an artist” from just a musician?

A musician accomplishes the physical act of playing music, whereas an artist is able to convey an emotion or idea.

Afresh: Where did you meet your group and how long have you been together now?

I was involved in a previous project with Mark and our original drummer a few years ago. The current line up has been together since August of 2009.

Afresh: What are your immediate music career goals? (Next 1 to 3 years.)

We are planning on releasing our debut album by sometime next year. Our main goal is to make the material available and introduce it to a new audience.

Afresh: What has been the biggest challenge for you or the group?

I know everyone says this, but we really don’t fit into a genre. Our music has melody, but isn’t palatable for your average radio listener. It’s also heavy, but not extreme enough to be esoteric and underground. Since we don’t have a niche, it’s not as easy for us to market ourselves. The positive thing about it is that we’re fairly well received regardless of whether we’re playing a death metal show or a hard rock show since we draw from a variety of influences.

Afresh: You’ve heard of the term “starving artists” before, how do you cope with major obstacles?

We’re fairly pragmatic about the music business, which limits the amount of bullshit we have to deal with. We all work very hard to support this band. Everyone contributes time and money and decisions are made with everyone’s input. Solidarity makes it easier to overcome obstacles.

Afresh:  Do you feel the economic crunch has hurt the industry, or do you have some other promotional tips to help support your music?

The industry has been in a transition period for quite a while, and I’m not quite sure what the economic impact of the recession has been. On one hand, entertainment offers and escape from real life problems, but it also cuts into expendable income that might be used for concert tickets or merchandise.

Afresh:  Who is your fan/customer?  Do you have a fan club or street team?

A large part of our audience is our peers (i.e. members of other bands, promoters, and industry types). It’s incredibly gratifying to be acknowledged by people that you like and respect in the music community.

Afresh: Art & Music has an impact on both young and old.  Everyone loves a celebrity, so what advice do you have for the youth of today?

Be persistent and determined, and be ready to accept and overcome failure. Be independent. Focus your energy on things you enjoy. Surround yourself with people who are positive influences.

Afresh: What does your family think of your performance and do they support you?

My family has always supported the decision to pursue a music career.

Afresh: What is your stance on how to get the public to support “live music” and see the shows?  Any ideas???

Make things convenient and cheap. Free shows are great for 21+ venues. They bring people in by eliminating the risk of paying to see bands they might not like. The money saved at the door is usually spent at the bar. An alternative would be to give out free drink tickets with cover which might be a better option for 17/18+ or all ages shows where alcohol is served. I’d also like to see more venues allow re-entry for smokers and make information about parking and transportation readily available.

Afresh: Thinking back, did your family carry on the same musical/artistic interests?

Not at all, actually.

Afresh: Do you have your own favorite type of music and is it any different from what you play now?

I listen to a lot of different types of music and go through phases. Sometimes I’ll feel like listening to a country record or a punk record, but I love playing our music. Having a variety of influences gives you more ideas and perspectives when you’re writing music.

Afresh: Do you have other interests or talents you would like to share with us?

Remy and I are big football fans, and I enjoy other sports sports as well. I try to draw and paint or sculpt to get the creative juices flowing.

Afresh: What has been your strong influence to continue performing?

There were times when I stopped and it was a terrible feeling. The desire to play is pretty much intrinsic.

Afresh: How do you rate your live performance ability?  Do you feel better performing live or in the studio?

You have to have a lot of confidence to do this kind of stuff. I like to think I’m pretty good, but we’re friends with a lot of musicians, so I’m humbled pretty often. Live performances are a bit more nerve wracking because so many things can go wrong with the stage set up, and you only have one chance to get it right. I like recording because it gives me a chance to rethink my parts as well as the gestalt and be more introspective.

Afresh: Does anyone in particular influence your artistic/musical talent?

So many bass players either follow the guitar line or treat the instrument like a piece of percussion. I hate that. Listening to bass players like Geezer Butler who could bridge the gap between guitars and drums and add a lot of musical depth gave me some direction when I first started playing.

Afresh: Who does most of the song writing/art/literature? (Discuss the songwriting process in detail.)

Mark (guitar/vocal) writes a lot of stuff, but we all bring in ideas and collaborate. We might listen to some rough pre-production recordings and work out parts or arrangements then work out the details in rehearsals or send stuff back and forth.

Afresh:  What image do you think your music conveys and why did you choose this ty

pe of image for your music?           ( Please, do not avoid the image issue!  We want the fans to get to know you better.)

I think our music conveys the depth and complexity of life, and provides an outlet for frustrations. It is an amalgamation of four individuals and their collective experiences connected by the mutual experience of the human condition. Or maybe it’s just metal.

Afresh:  Someone once said write what you would want to perform over and over.  With that in mind, what song do you love to perform the most?

That changes fairly frequently. Right now I would say it’s a new song called “Conjoined.” It’s pretty fast and energetic, even for us.

Afresh: If you had to change one thing about your music/group what do you feel would be the best change to benefit the group overall and why?

I would make us filthy rich so we could quit our jobs and focus on music, and invest in marketing, pr and all that good stuff.

Afresh:  Where would you like to see yourself within the next five years as an artist?  What are your long-term career goals?

We are very much a “music for the sake of music” band. We just want to write and record music, and make sure people know about it and can access it. That’s what is most important to us, but we end up having a greater degree of success, that’s fantastic.

Afresh: Have you ever had any strange or stalker type fans that you are aware of?  How does it affect the closeness you have with your fans, media, etc. now?

Most of the time we’ll sit at the bar or stand by the stage when we’re not playing and we’re always willing to talk with anyone who appreciates what we do.  When I was younger, it was sort of a different story. My old bands had drug dealers and various other undesirables who gave me problems. I’d get a lot of weird propositions like “Hey you wanna come and take some pictures? You can keep your clothes on, if you want.” I’m definitely happier with Trials’ fan base.

Afresh: While getting ready to perform have you ever been interrupted by fans who snuck in to the dressing room/rehearsal?  How did you handle this?

We have random people stop in our rehearsal space from time to time. I guess it’s a bit odd, but flattering nonetheless. They’re usually other musicians, so I guess it’s relatively innocuous. We’re usually happy to oblige with a song or two.

Afresh: Tell us about your most embarrassing moment if you care to share it with us?

Several years ago in a previous band I was playing a small club with no monitors. We started playing a song and a bit later I realized I couldn’t hear myself. I had accidentally pulled out my cable and didn’t even notice. I probably played about half the song with no audio. During the same set, I got my hair caught in the guitar player’s head stock and a good chunk of it just got ripped out. It was pretty bad.

Afresh: What has been the most bizarre thing (thrown) on the stage with you?  How did you react?

Our fans tend to be pretty courteous, but in the past I’ve had all manner of odd props end up on the stage some how. Go with the flow, I guess.

Afresh: What is your wildest story with the group?

We played a festival in Kentuckyana last year. We almost didn’t get to play, but we worked things out. After our set, we turned down some sexual favors from the promoter and his girlfriend, killed a turkey with our truck, and then we were searched by law enforcement in Lafayette. It was a good time.

Afresh: What has been the worst nightmare for the group?  How did you get through it all?

We had a number of setbacks working on our first album. Without getting into specifics, a lot of things went wrong and probably delayed the completion of the album by over a year. Rather than giving up, we stayed focused on the things that were in our control regarding the record, and directed the rest of our energy toward writing new material and playing shows. It was a good learning experience, and we are better for it.

Afresh: What are your up-to-date performance plans?  New releases?  Tours? News?

Trials is playing a few shows in and around the Midwest. Right now we are working on releasing our debut album and also writing some new material.


Trials, a progressive thrash metal band from Chicago, Illinois, began as a recording project between vocalist/guitarist Mark Sugar and original drummer Sasha Horn. With few expectations, the duo cut a demo in late 2007. Much to their surprise, the music was met with an overwhelming response: thousands of online plays, offers to tour overseas, and industry contacts from all over the globe. At this point, the two wisely decided to assemble an actual band.

Bassist and longtime associate Usha Rajbhandari was quickly brought into the lineup. The search for a guitarist, however, proved to be more difficult, until the solution came from an unexpected place: the East Coast.

New Yorker Remy Walle only knew of Trials’ existence from an audio engineering forum online, which Sugar also frequented. But when the Trials front-man casually announced his band’s guitarist search on said forum, Walle immediately took interest.”The first time I heard the song ‘Praise,’ I knew these guys were on to something, and I wanted to stop whatever I was doing and be a part of it,’ says Walle. “He sounded far better than anyone we tried out locally, so we figured we had nothing to lose,” Sugar adds. “He flew out here, slept on my futon, and after the first rehearsal, it was obvious that we had to convince him to move here.”

Walle’s death metal influence complemented Sugar’s thrashier upbringing and helped shape Trials’ sound: a powerful, frantic, riff-first-ask-questions-later mix of influences like Death, Gojira, Strapping Young Lad, and Machine Head.

Trials will release its full-length debut, “Witness To The Downfall,” this year. Drum tracks were recorded with Chris Djuricic (Novembers Doom, Soil, Dirge Within) at Belle City Sound, and the rest of the recording was handled by Trials and engineer Chris Wolff. The album was mixed and mastered by Lasse Lammert (Alestorm, Stuck Mojo).

Soon after completing the album, drummer Sasha Horn parted ways with Trials and rejoined his former band, Novembers Doom. The band enlisted Adam Kopecky to take over the drum throne in late 2009.

In early 2010, the band signed with United States management firm The Inner Light Agency. As Damon Moreno of iLA says, “These guys are the real deal, and the material on ‘Witness To The Downfall’ kicks ass. I’m very proud to be working alongside such outstanding talent.”

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