Trail of Dead - Biography

Trail of Dead
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Kevin Allen, Neil Busch, Conrad Keely and Jason Reece grew up in the small Christian community of Planoe, Texas (not to be confused with Plano, the suburb of Dallas) - a place more known for cattle ranches and it's single corner grocer than for it's music.

The four boys grew up in close proximity; Conrad, Neil and Jason attended the same Sunday school at the Planoe Anabaptist Ministry (Kevin's parents were Presbyterian). The four shared an interest in the sciences and literature, but also shared a love of singing. In Junior High they joined the church choir where they competed internationally in vocal ensemble competitions (Planoe Methodist Choir won the National Boys Choir Award in 1983).

During college the four lost touch briefly, then reunited in Austin, Texas, where Neil was attending UT. There they rekindled their old love of singing, and performed for a while as a four piece vocal ensemble for church revivals.

During a recording session for the Austin All-Male Ensemble they were introduced to Mike McCarthy, who would later wean them into recording artists. For the present, McCarthy infused the four with his interest in audio recording, fascinating them with the idea that the technology for sound recording predated the steam engine, and had actually existed for several thousand years.

It was also during this time that the four took an interest in the budding field of Maya, a field that was progressing with leaps and bounds at the University of Texas. Another research project they had started in high school and continued through college had also become an obsession - thinking along the precepts of Greil Marcus, Guy Debord, and Anton Levay, they had begun to search for a unifying link which would tie patterns in popular and ancient cultures with a singular repeating theme. In other words, to anthropology what the Theory of Grand Unification would be to physics.

Trail of Dead Biography  @
Trail of Dead Biography  @
Trail of Dead Biography  @
Trail of Dead Biography  @

Studies in both fields lead them to the "...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead", a glyph discovered to be present in distantly related ancient cultures that was currently being investigated at the Mayan department at UT.

Meanwhile McCarthy, who had become a constant presence in their lives, had coaxed the four into a studio at the Hamstien offices in the Austin Hill Country which he was using as a laboratory for his own experiments in sound manipulation, continuing the unfinished investigations into the field started by the likes of Wilhelm Reich, Michael Oldfield, and even the unpublished speculations of Thomas Edison.

Originally planning to record the group performing two versions of the popular hymns "Lord of All Hopefulness" and "Bell of Creation," they decided instead to put their recent hypothesis into practice. The four's explorations into music anthropology had lead them to experiment with idioms in rock music and it's commonalties with primitive folk music, especially that originating in Papua New Guinea, Hindu Kush, and Polynesia. Converting the tonal and rhythmic variants of the hymn "Lord of All Hopefulness" along a random logarithmic arc, they made the first recording of the “...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead” experiment - "Richter Scale Madness."

Over the past several years the four boys, under the name "...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead" have toured continuously throughout the US and Europe, also finding time to record three albums. Their first, comparably rawer eponymous LP (Trance Records) saw the four expanding upon the conversion of ecclesiastic hymnal into secular rock disaster theory.

Their second foray into sound manipulations, "Madonna" (Merge Records) dealt heavily with the themes of iconoclastic worship, the creation and subsequent defamation of popular idols in the post-industrial age, and the premature development of cynicism among modern children due to the pressures of our hastening information age.

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead's latest album, to be released on Interscope, reflects upon the loss of agrarian innocence in a world preoccupied with numbers and record-keeping, attempting to give us a glimpse into a future that could be either scintillatingly utopic or unlivably desolate.

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead is currently continuing its research into it's theory of Anthropological Unification, which they intend to publish in full in the near future.

Trail of Dead at BBC Collective