They’ve toured around the world with popular bands, playing to thousands. They just recorded their new full-length album, Keep Dreaming, with legendary engineer Steve Albini in Chicago. And they recently sold the last of 2,000 copies on CD and LP of their 2008 release Get Vulnerable.
But the band still practices in a Petaluma chicken coop. They bring their dogs on tour. The bassist and guitarist are married. The drummer is a longtime friend. They’ve seen other guitarists come and go in their 10 years as a band.
Guitarist Sara Sanger, picking strands of white dog hair from her black clothes in the backyard of her Santa Rosa home last week, explains. “This is what this band is going to be. I’m clear on our appeal, our range of success,” she says.
“There’s an illusion when you’re younger,” Sanger continues, “when you’re first starting a band, that anything is possible. And that this might be the moment you get taken to the next step.”
Her husband, Josh Staples, bassist, singer and primary songwriter of the band, chimes in. “But that happens all the time.”
“It happens,” Sanger replies, “but it’s not going to happen to us.”
And the New Trust seem perfectly fine with that. “To put a seven-minute song as the first song on your record is pretty dumb,” says Staples. But that’s the vision the band had for this record. “If you’re not going to do it for the sake of doing it,” says Staples, “then you’re going to compromise it in the end.”
That thought is the inspiration behind “Compromise,” Keep Dreaming‘s hard-hitting, three-chord riff on the music industry. A big, powerful rock song, it’s far different than anything on the band’s first albums, which leaned more toward punkish pop with catchy guitar hooks. Keep Dreaming is slower, methodical and wise to the world. A pervasive overtone of death and rebirth, especially on “Marigolds”: “With what remains, let the soil be fortified,” sings Staples in his melancholic tenor. “Let my last cell decompose to spring forth marigolds.”
Keep Dreaming, released May 14, is lyrically deep and musically dark. The music resonates through more than just eardrums. Happiness does shine through on the last song, the only one to show any semblance of a major key, albeit for only a fleeting moment.
It’s appropriately titled “In My Dreams, You’re Still Alive.”
The New Trust play with Creative Adult, Hard Girls, Nervous, and the Happening on Saturday, June 1, at the Arlene Francis Center. 99 Sixth St., Santa Rosa. 8pm. $8. 707.528.3009.