It was May of 1990 when MCA/Mechanic Records took a chance on a budding new pop rock sensation out of Paramus, NJ, and released their debut self-titled CD, Trixter. The year now is 2010, and Trixter is still alive and rocking with the best of them. That’s right! This year marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Trixter’s debut CD, and to celebrate, they’ll be blowing the roof off of a sold out Mexicali Live in Teaneck, NJ, on Friday, Feb. 26.
For you youngsters, scratching your heads asking, “Who the hell is Trixter?” Trixter was one of the most successful rock bands to make it out of their North Jersey garage and onto the stages of some of the world’s most famous arenas, opening for bands like Stryper, Scorpions, Poison, Warrant, and even KISS. The videos for their songs “Give It to Me Good” and “One In A Million” were on steady rotation on MTV back when MTV was still playing music videos. Besides all of these accomplishments, Trixter still holds New Jersey club records for the most sold out performances in NJ by a local band, a feat still unmatched by any local unsigned band today. In 2008, the original members of Trixter (Pete Loran, vocals; Steve Brown, guitar; PJ Farley, bass; and Mark “Gus” Scott, drums) reunited for the first time in 13 years to play a total of five shows beginning with an appearance at the Annual Rocklahoma Festival in Pryor, Oklahoma, and culminating with a sold out homecoming show at Dexter’s in Riverdale, NJ, which my band Hostel Inc. had the opportunity to be a part of.
I recently got a call from my good friend, Steve Brown, to talk about the 20th anniversary of the Trixter CD, the fans’ response to the band’s reunion, Trixter: Then And Now, a memorable quote from Gene Simmons of KISS, and of course, what the future holds for Trixter. Here’s what Steve Brown had to say:
So, Steve, it’s been 20 years since the release of the Trixter CD. What are you guys doing to celebrate it?
We’re celebrating by going out on the 2010 20th Anniversary Trixter tour! (laughs) It’s pretty much a milestone, and I guess we put the band back together in time. It wouldn’t have been cool if it was the 21st or the 22nd, but 25th would have been cool, though. Then we’d have something to celebrate every five years! (laughs) But it’s very cool, we very excited! To be official, in May, it will be 20 years since the release of that record that changed all of our lives forever, and kind of forever, put the four of us together, for better or worse. It’s just a really cool thing, and it’s great to be back out there now, two years into our reunion, and now to be celebrating a milestone.
Well, since reuniting, how have the crowds been reacting to the reunion?
The reunion has been going great! We do select shows being that we all have separate lives and separate responsibilities, and for our genre of music, a lot of the bands are kind of in the same boat as us, and we do weekend warrior kind of stuff. We’ll jump in a plane, fly out somewhere, play a gig for one or two nights, and then fly home, so that nobody’s home life gets disrupted too much, and we get to see the fans all around the country. Hopefully, this year will take us to Europe or back to Japan. We’re working on a lot of stuff, so it’s very exciting!
Are you re-releasing the first CD, Trixter, to celebrate the 20th anniversary?
I’m actually in the process of re-mastering the first CD, and we’re going to put out a 20th anniversary edition that’s going to have the video remixes for ‘One In A Million’ and ‘Surrender’ and some other cool little tidbits. I think that I might actually throw my original four-track demo of ‘Give It To Me Good’ on there. That’s a really cool little gem because it shows that not really much changed from that demo. That song, ‘Give It to Me Good,’ was kind of the song that broke us and changed our lives overnight, so it’s very cool to hear a song that took me 10 minutes to write, and all the good that it did for us.
Aside from the re-releases, are there any new Trixter CDs on the horizon?
I like to think so. I’ve got a ton of ideas. I’m always being a prolific songwriter, producer, and stuff. I’m always working on stuff. I think that anything that I write can lend itself to a new Trixter CD, and I think at some point we’re definitely going to do that. I do know one thing that we’re definitely going to do is we’re going to re-record ‘Give It To Me Good’ for a couple of TV commercial ads. We’ve been taking this reunion and easing our way into it and having fun with it. Now that the band is back and the response has been great, people all around the country and all around the world really love what we do, and they love the live show. I was telling somebody last week that the last record that we officially put out back in the day was that Undercovers record, which was very cool and a lot of fun and still a great party CD. I think that we still have a lot left in us, and I think that we can definitely put something out there that’s relevant today and that would represent what Trixter was and what Trixter is now.
Within the past 20 years, what are Steve Brown’s most memorable moments? I’m sure that there are many.
There’s a ton. The first record hitting big! You can never ever forget that. The first gold record, it’s really an amazing thing to just look back at it now because back then when Pete and I started Trixter in 1983, I was 12 years old. We were little kids and all we ever wanted to be was a mini-Van Halen. To actually achieve that, to some degree, is an incredible thing. Looking back on it after Trixter kind of disbanded or took a little vacation, PJ and I were constantly working on new projects trying to record deals, and we came close, but you realize how really lucky we were. And when you’re that young, you don’t really understand it, because for us back when we started Trixter, we just kept on building and building to finally getting our deal in ‘89, and then 1990 our record came out, then by then end of 1990 we had the number one video on MTV. Then we’re gearing up for ‘91 touring with Poison and Scorpions in arenas, and Warrant and Firehouse. It was just an incredible time. Like I’ve always said, our fans have made all of our rock ‘n’ roll dreams come true a hundred times over! We’ve lived it!
Do you remember what it felt like to go from clubs to arenas?
I do! And I remember it like it was yesterday. It was meant to be because it’s all we ever did. Even when we were playing the China Club back in 1986 or ‘87, that’s what we modeled our stage show after. Even though it was a small venue, we always played like we were playing the Meadowlands or Madison Square Garden or Giants Stadium. So, when we finally did get to go out and play an arena, which was Muskegon, Michigan, with Poison, the first show was flawless. And I don’t mean to say that bragging, I just remember that it was our time, and we were ready. It was kind of like the Rocky situation, I remember that we went the night before to the arena—me, PJ, and Gus—and we just walked around, and were just like, ‘Man, in 24 hours, we’re going to be playing this place.’ It was 8,000 people going nuts and we were spot-on, man! We were flawless! That is what it was all about.
Looking back and talking to you now about it; that was probably one of our heaviest moments because it felt like we were finally home. I remember the intro going on and all the flash bulbs going off, it just really blew your mind. We just went out, did our fuckin’ show, kicked ass. The next thing you know, we come off stage and Bret Michaels is just hanging out with us in our dressing room with a case of champagne and tons of girls. It was just ‘Game On! Party On!’ and that just continued for the next couple of years.
Since it has been 20 years, you obviously have seen a change in the music industry, what about this unforgiving business do you actually still like?
One of the coolest things that I can say now for a lot of the bands of our genre and us, most of all, is that now we control everything in the sense that we have our own online store on trixterrocks.com where we sell everything from CDs, live CDs, live DVDs, and even our own t-shirts. We own everything and it’s a beautiful thing! It’s something powerful and something that we can do the rest of our lives.
One last question: Being that The Aquarian is a musician’s newspaper, and you’re a New Jersey music legend, what advice can you give starving Jersey musicians trying to make it on the music scene today?
Just do what you love to do. Don’t become a musician and get into the music business because you want to become a rock star. If you play, do what you love to do, and play music because you love to play music, not because you want to be rich and famous because the rich and famous thing is so far reaching, and it’s like my song ‘One In A Million.’ But if you love music and you do it for the rest of your life and you’re able to play, you can play in cover bands and original bands, and if you can make money doing what you love to do, there’s nothing better than that.
If you’re going for that carrot, I would strongly caution anybody about thinking that because it’s few and far between. I remember when we were at the height of the first record; Gene Simmons from KISS told me and Pete, ‘Don’t ever take this for granted. There’s nothing like being a musician and getting paid to play music and making a record and stuff, but always remember the world needs ditch diggers, too!’ Now, as a disclaimer, I have nothing against ‘ditch diggers,’ but that quote always stuck with me.
Those are words to live by for any musician on the scene trying to make it. Catch the legendary Trixter on Friday, Feb. 26, at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, NJ, or if you’re in the Chicopee, Massachusetts, area the next night, Feb. 27, you can catch them at Maximum Capacity. For more info, log onto trixterrocks.com.