OFF THE RECORD with TRAMPOLINE TEAM

"I cannot stress how important it is to know how to record yourself..."

When Trampoline Team started in December 2011, no one expected it to ever become a real band. “We just got fucked up and I had one song so we learned it,” says guitarist Michael He-Man. Almost eight years and multiple releases later, the band has finally expanded into releasing their second full-length album, an intense display of their signature no-fucks-given brand of rock’n’roll. The once carefree youths are now veterans of two European tours, as well as multiple treks across the U.S. In September of last year, He-Man and singer-bassist Sam DeLucia completed Trampoline Team’s current lineup with drummer Drew Owen, a transient punk force who may have finally found his home in New Orleans’ chaotic shambles.

Calling the trio busy would be an understatement. In addition to Trampoline Team, members play in so many other groups they can’t even remember the names of them all. After much contemplation and arguing during our interview, they generate a list of about 15 different bands between the three of them, including the likes of Sick Thoughts, Pscience, Giorgio Murderer, and Buck Biloxi and the Fucks. Many of these groups have recorded on Sarah Mason’s label Space Taker Sounds and former label Pelican Pow Wow.

Entering He-Man and Owen’s house, I maneuver my way around the cluttered assortment of gear that crowds the front room, a space that acts as the headquarters for this small yet surprisingly world-recognized collection of gritty New Orleans musicians. Among the debris lies reel-to-reel tape recorders, scattered amps, and oddities like a toy microphone that will be utilized for an upcoming noise project. Above it all, the walls proudly display posters for Gonerfest, the longstanding annual gathering of like-minded cretins associated with Goner Records in Memphis. On another wall, a gigantic American flag hangs upside down, a symbol traditionally used to indicate distress.

In the living room, the young trio chain smoke and drink while watching an old horror film entitled Tales of Terror, with enough secondhand smoke filling the room to justify the band’s very own Surgeon General’s warning. Speaking candidly in their natural environment, Trampoline Team open up about misadventures in Europe, recording on their own terms, and the dangers of crafting album cover art.


Sam and Michael, how did you two get introduced to the underground scene in New Orleans?

Sam DeLucia: I got a job at the Mushroom the day that I moved to New Orleans when I was 18 and Michael was already working at the Mushroom. I worked there for six years. Michael worked there for five and a half years. Almost everybody that I met and almost all of the shows that I went to was from working at the Mushroom.

Michael He-Man: I’ve been playing shows since I was 16. One of the first bands I played with was that band High In One Eye. The band that I was in would share bills with them. They were 15 or something too. They were really young. They were the only guys I knew.

 

I love that you guys are in so many bands that you can’t even remember what bands you’re in.

Drew Owen: It’s the same people. [laughs]

SD: That’s why it’s so hard!

MH: They all sound different though!

 

How does sharing common members between so many bands impact Trampoline Team?

DO: It’s convenient. We can all practice at the same time.

MH: We can knock out four band practices a night.

SD: When we were trying to figure out when we were going to Gonerfest, because everyone is playing in a million bands for Gonerfest. Everyone would come over here at five and then we would just do four band practices in a row.

DO: And hate our lives!

SD: It sucks for Drew, who has to play drums multiple times or Michael, who has to play drums multiple times. In Europe, we did five bands. I was in all of them. It’s great but—

MH: It wears on you.

SD: On the second night of 21 nights, I was like this is a mistake!

MH: The practice is what really wears on you. It’s more fun when you’re doing it, but leading up to it, when you’re practicing four times a night every fucking free night you’re got. You’re just kind of like this sucks!

SD: You get off work and then you practice until you go home and fall asleep.

DO: At three in the morning!

SD: But it’s fun and also we all are friends, so it’s just like we’re hanging out with our friends. Between the practices, they can get high. I can smoke a cigarette. Sarah [Mason] and I can go outside and drink a glass of wine. It would be harder if we aren’t all the people we hang out with anyways. The people that we play in bands with are just the people that we would call to hang out with anyways, so it’s not as weird.

MH: And we can do it here! The neighbors are alright with us playing here.

SD: They are much more than alright. They are just basically angels, because if I lived next to anyone who was practicing from five to eleven, I wouldn’t say anything but I would definitely be annoyed. They don’t even act annoyed to us ever. They’re just very nice to us about it.

 

What separates Trampoline Team from the millions of other bands you’re in?

MH: It’s the fastest.

SD: Drew’s drumming has really changed the band for the better. It’s got a very distinctive drum sound now.

MH: It’s faster and meaner.

DO: Trampoline Team is hardcore. Sick Thoughts is rock’n’roll.

SD: It might be the meanest band, but Buck Biloxi can be kind of mean… I’m going to feel bad for all the other bands as I’m saying this, but I like playing in Trampoline Team’s live show better than any other band. But that’s just me because I get to sing and throw myself around. [to Drew] I’m sure you like playing in Sick Thoughts more than in all the other bands because you get to sing.

DO: I concur.

MH: I like playing in Trampoline Team the most but I’ve been having fun playing drums.

SD: Michael is playing drums for Buck Biloxi and Giorgio Murderer now. You saw it at SXSW! That was like the very first time.

 

It was downright humorous that they put a band between both of your bands.

SD: I was pretty annoyed with SXSW for that. I tried explaining, “It’s just us plus one more person” and asked if we could just go in a row. They were like, “No. Let’s just put this band in between y’all.” I was like, “That’s fine but you’re going to think it’s weird though when the next band comes.” But it’s fine. It’s a lot easier to tour. We all share gear. We all share members. We can present as six people and have five bands.

 

Five bands splitting the cover.

SD: It’s a good compact deal that everybody gets.


photo by William Archambeault

In August, you toured Europe. How was that and which bands were on that tour?

SD: Drew actually couldn’t come on the European tour. He was on another European tour with his band Baby’s Blood. We were just in different parts of Europe, which was a bummer because we really wanted Drew to be with us and he was not. Instead, he was getting arrested in Germany.

DO: Off the record!

SD: I don’t think the German police are going to look at ANTIGRAVITY and be like, “We found him! He gave us that fake Finnish address! We really found him now!” The European tour was Buck Biloxi with half a Giorgio Murderer set at the end of Buck Biloxi so I guess that’s two bands; Michael He-Man, which was Michael’s solo project that I don’t know if we’ll ever do in America; Psience; and then Trampoline Team… Europe is weird. Italy was great.

MH: Italy is the greatest country in the world!

SD: But Drew was in Scandinavian hell.

DO: I was having a good time.

SD: Really?

DO: No. That’s bullshit!

SD: We facetimed a lot, so it was kind of like we were on the same tour.

 

It’s like a band going through long distance dating.

SD: We were in a long distance band relationship.

DO: I was the sad one.

SD: I was very sad! [laughs] Don’t take away my European sadness! [laughs]

 

So what made it Scandinavian hell for you?

DO: The guys that I went on tour with are my old friends from Helsinki. Our van didn’t have lights on it. We had lots of trouble with the cops.

SD: Because your van looked like shit!

DO: Yeah. Nobody had fun except for me. I was with these two Finnish guys drinking hot vodka for two weeks, powdering our noses. [laughs]

MH: Drew got criminal charges in Germany for a hash brownie.

DO: I had two hash brownies and a little bit of hash. The customs police pulled us over and they searched our entire van. He went through my suitcase and I didn’t think about it, but I had the hash brownies right on top. They were searching it and they were asking everybody, “Whose bag is this?” They were like, “Is this yours?” and I was like, “Yeah.” They were like, [chipperly] “Have you been to Amsterdam?” and I was like, “Yeah!” They didn’t say anything, so I was like, “Fuck! Maybe they don’t care!” But no—they cared. And they gave me all this paperwork. I have criminal charges now. I had some court date in Germany and they asked, “Where should we send your papers in Finland?” because I gave them a Finnish I.D. The street address I gave them translates to “Fuck You Street 123” or whatever number I gave them. 69? I don’t know. It’s not a real street but they thought it was. [laughs]

 

So would you say that was the biggest disaster of everyone’s European experience?

SD: Yeah. I don’t think that our tour had any real serious non-emotional disasters. There were emotional disasters, but no physical or lawful disasters.

MH: We messed the van up a little.

SD: We did mess the van up a little bit. The sideview mirrors fell off, which is very exciting. So then we taped it up, but it kept falling down. But Sarah is a nurse and thought about splinting it, so she just took a piece of a tree and splinted it and then it stayed for the rest of the tour. I was super impressed.

DO: MacGyver.

SD: We played at this squat in Leipzig. I really like Leipzig, Germany. It’s awesome. It’s always insane. We played at this communist squat. They own the entire four block radius of these huge old abandoned buildings and they hold shows there. It was the most effort I’ve ever seen anybody put into a show.

MH: It was a whole production.

SD: We kept talking about how we feel like shit because in New Orleans nobody does anything for a show. We’re just like, “Ummm you can come to this if you want to.”

MH: They were burning those rental scooters outside the show.

SD: Yeah. You know how we have the blue bikes here? They have scooters there and they made a pile of them outside the show and set them on fire to show the cops that they won’t be able to gentrify the neighborhood. It was the coolest thing that I’ve ever seen. In the morning, there were charred scooters out there because we slept at the squat. That was really cool.

DO: I rode a blue bike the other day.

SD: Fuck ‘em! Fuck blue bikes!

DO: Fuck you. [laughs] I don’t have a car! I don’t have a bike at all times. The blue bike is OK.

SD: We have more things to worry about besides the blue bikes, but if someone wanted to set them all on fire outside of a Trampoline Team show, I would not be sad about that. I would think that would be great.

DO: Set a singular blue bike on fire. I don’t support blue bike. Get that on the record.

SD: I love Leipzig. We went to Croatia. I really love Croatia too. It was the same kind of dirty, young punk scene. The dude in Croatia—

MH: Shout out to Eke Buba.

SD: That’s a really great band from Croatia. They played at Circle Bar last year, actually. The dude that put on our show in Croatia asked me specifically about the show in Leipzig. When I told him what a good time we had, he told us “the punks won in Leipzig” and I thought that it was great that those two places that reminded me of each other really liked each other too. They lost our guitars during our connecting flight, but not with any time so me, Michael, Rob [Craig], and our friend Eric [Apnea] missed the flights. But the girls, Betsy [Shepherd] and Sarah, made their flights. After 30 hours traveling, we got separated and we had to fly from Charlotte to here. Sarah and Betsy were already home and I was crying in an airport. That’s always the end of a tour. Nothing good happens on the last day of a tour.

MH: I had to crawl inside the conveyor belt thing to get the guitars. They didn’t send them all the way out.

SD: You just saw the edge of Michael sticking out.

DO: I fucking hate traveling with guitars.

SD: Europe is great. They pay you really well. It’s not like America where you show up to a bar and they’re like, “Oh. I didn’t know there was a show tonight,” and then everyone leaves because they hate you. Then you have to drive 40 miles to a shitty hotel because nobody will let you stay there… That doesn’t happen in Europe because the government pays for music, which is crazy.

 

That European tour was all New Orleans bands. Do New Orleans bands and the local underground have a reputation out there?

SD: Definitely.

MH: Actually like a big one. They love that shit.

SD: New Orleans and Memphis are a big deal. It’s really weird. The first time we went to Europe was two years ago. It was very stressful to get there. We had to fly into Berlin and then we had to pick up our van. Then, we had to pick up the rental gear and we had to drive to Leipzig to play that night. We had to drive four hours back to Hamburg to sleep. It was just endless traveling. I was just really happy to be away from all of our friends. I had never left the country before and it was really exciting that I went to this new place that I had never been to. I was just like, “Oh my god! This is the first time I get to sleep in a different country!” I put my sleeping bag down in this guy’s record room and I turned over. I was sleeping next to a Die Rötzz record, which just has their fucking faces on it! I’ve worked for Paul [Artigues, chef-owner of Green Goddess] for seven and a half years. I flew all the way across the world to fall asleep next to my friends, my boss. It’s like, “Oh cool. I guess I’m not that far away.” Everywhere you go there are Reatards posters. There’s [King] Louie / Persuaders posters. There’s Exploding Hearts records.

DO: We love you Louie!

SD: No. We’re going to keep that one out!

DO: Drew Owen loves King Louie. Put that in please.

SD: That’s not a thing.

MH: Shout out King Louie!

DO: Shout out to King Louie from Drew Owen!

SD: Please don’t do that!

DO: Please do that! [laughs] I can speak for myself. [loudly yelling] I love you Louie!!! Louie, I love that Les Paul. Put that in there.

SD: At our show in Denmark, there was a dude in a BÊNNÍ shirt who ruled and had a Kiss belt that he gifted to Michael.

MH: Shout out to Oskar Kragh. I love you Oskar.

SD: I think that the Europeans like to tell us that they know. You go to the show and somebody’s got on a M.O.T.O. shirt that you know they did on purpose or a Quintron shirt. That’s cool. I always think that is very sweet.

 

[to Drew] With you being from out of town, how did you originally become acquainted with New Orleans underground music and eventually wind up in Trampoline Team?

DO: I came here when I was 17. Sarah [Mason] flew me out here to play her festival. Then I met all these guys.

SD: No. I had met you before that at Gonerfest with your dad when you were like 15. Then we were internet friends.

DO: Then I came back here on tour and played a show and stayed at this house with Sick Thoughts. I don’t know. I just moved here… after high school. Then I moved away and then I moved back just last year.

 

Coming from outside of New Orleans, what is your impression of the scene here?

DO: It’s great. I love it. My scene is Poor Boys Bar and Grill in the early morning hours.

SD: Especially the bar and grill.

DO: I’m out of the scene. I am 100% anti-scene. Not the band—that band’s terrible. Put that in there too.

SD: [laughing] That can stay.

DO: The scene is pretty divided but I don’t give a shit. I have fun with all my friends at shows. I wish there were more bands.

SD: I wish there were younger bands.

DO: I’m always the youngest person at a show except for Hunter [Mackenzie].

 

How old are you currently?

DO: 22. I’m just a fucking ageist.

 

Wasn’t Sick Thoughts once on the cover of Maximumrocknroll?

DO: We were.

SD: Just you.

MH: All downhill since then.

SD: Peaked in high school! [laughs]

DO: Some people work their whole lives to do that. I did it and everything since has just been a steady downwards spiral. [everyone laughing]

 

How did you feel about the recent death of Maximumrocknroll?

DO: Good riddance! It’s great [pauses] that they’re dead. I liked reading it. I liked laughing at the record reviews. It’s great that they’re still doing it and Maximum Rocknroll Radio.

SD: They still have online reviews, which I still somehow read. I didn’t think that I would but I have. Mitch Cardwell, who is from Maximumrocknroll, is one of my favorite music writers, so I’m still glad that they’re doing some stuff… I think everyone’s done a great job, but there’s some strange things that happened to Maximumrocknroll over its very long tenure, which I guess it would because it had been a print magazine for so long that it can’t stay the same thing forever.

 

Yeah. If Trampoline Team was together in 30 years, it probably wouldn’t be quite the same thing as when it started.

SD: Yeah. When Maximumrocknroll announced it was going out of print, I was at work and yelled it at Paul. Paul was like, “Die Rötzz outlived Maximumrocknroll!!!” I was like, “Fuck yeah!” because Maximumrocknroll hates Die Rötzz and has only given them terrible reviews, so I thought that was pretty funny. But when I was a kid, it was important. When I was a 14 or 15-year-old buying records from the record store, I would also pick up Maximumrocknroll, so I think that it kind of sucks that it’s gone. I also [wonder] does it matter because of the internet. It’s not the same being a 14-year-old in a record store now, because you don’t really need to be in a record store as a 14 year-old. You should be, but you don’t have to be. And you don’t have to buy Maximumrocknroll. You can just go on the internet.

 

Now a Spotify algorithm could recommend the new Trampoline Team instead of record store clerks!

SD: Well there you go. Shout out Spotify. Maybe we’ll get three cents if someone listens to it three million times.

MH: They paid us! We just got a royalty check for $3.61.

DO: That can cover my McDonald’s.

MH: It’s from everything—YouTube and all of them.

 

Don’t spend it all in one place.

MH: I was wondering if I did that shit correctly when I registered it with BMI. What is weird is that I did that shit years ago. It’s not for any of the two new records. It was just for the old stuff… I clearly don’t know how this works.

 

You recorded the new album in this house. What were the advantages and disadvantages of recording in a home environment?

MH: [points at Otari MX5050] This is the recorder. It’s a half track reel-to-reel. Otari is the brand name.

DO: [in a Baltimore accent] Yeah! That’s my Atari!

SD: Your accents don’t translate into print!

MH: You just put “asterisk Baltimore accent.”

SD: I don’t think there were any disadvantages to recording at home.

MH: Yeah. It’s way better.

SD: I feel like it’s all advantages. First of all, we’re comfortable. Secondly, we’re in a house.

MH: We can smoke and drink and take breaks. We can do whatever we want.

SD: Also, I get very, very uncomfortable and nervous doing vocals, really doing anything at all. If it’s just us and there’s not some other person, we’re in this house and I’m not in a space that I’m not used to. [pointing to the front room] I recorded all my vocals over there right between those amps, which is also where I practice. That’s where I sing into a microphone all of the time so it’s a lot easier for me to do it here.

MH: I get to mix it on the stereo that I always listen to records on, so it’s easier that way.

DO: We get to look at each other deep in the eyes while we’re recording to get the best performance out of each of us.

SD: The real advantage is that Michael knows what he’s doing. If Michael didn’t know how to record, mix, and master things, I don’t know if we’d ever have any album at all in our lives. Because I don’t think I could go into a studio and let somebody tell me what to do and have control over what our band sounds like. Michael teaching himself how to do all that and being able to do that for us is the biggest advantage.

MH: I only did it because this dude at the studio made fun of me while I was there [recording with a different band]. I went to sing and do a vocal take… He came on over the microphone [authoritatively] “Well that wasn’t in key.” I was like, “Man, that is not cool.” [laughs] I felt just like Eazy-E in [the film] Straight Outta Compton.

 

How difficult did the reel-to-reel make the recording process?

MH: That deck had to be calibrated because it was fucked up, so I had to find a dude who knew how to do that. He and I spent two days calibrating it. You have to buy a calibration tape from this place in California. I had already recorded a record on this deck, but it was a bitch because it wasn’t calibrated. It was super fucked up. Stuff wouldn’t play back at the same volume that you recorded it at, so doing it after calibrating it was actually very easy and nice.

 

Now that you’ve gone through that process and taught yourself, what advice would you give to a kid who is curious about recording their own stuff?

DO: It’s a money pit.

SD: Don’t say that!

MH: Get a four track casette recorder and fuck around on that as long as you possibly can until you really know it and then get something better.

DO: Until it breaks.

SD: Then you get a better one. You learn how to use that one and you use that until it breaks. Tape machines are always going to fucking break.

MH: Get a cheap microphone and then a four track cassette recorder.

SD: As someone who does not know how to record themselves—only Michael and Drew know that—I cannot stress how important it is to know how to record yourself. I’m just very, very lucky that they know how to do that. If there are any people that are under the age of 24 in bands in New Orleans—if you exist somehow in the world—just learn how to do it yourself.

MH: Going to a studio is a total ripoff. Don’t do it unless somebody else is paying for it!

SD: It’s so expensive and it’s just so uncomfortable and sterile. Maybe for some music it works, but for music that isn’t supposed to sound like it was made in a hospital, then I don’t think that it works.

MH: I don’t know. I’d record at a hospital.

 

An abandoned hospital would be sick.

SD: Like the old Charity Hospital would be fine.

MH: We could go there.

 

“Live at Charity Hospital.” [laughs]

MH: It’s a benefit show.

 

This album is self-titled. I feel like it is a big statement whenever a band decides to self-title their own record.

SD: I also thought it was a very big statement! It was Michael’s idea and I was a little bit apprehensive about what a statement I thought that was! The last Sick Thoughts album was self-titled too, right?

DO: Right. It was because we couldn’t think of an album title.

MH: [jokingly] No way! This was on purpose because we were trying to make a bold statement and it was!

SD: Also, I was really tired and did not want to come up with another album name. We might self-title everything that we do for the rest of our lives.

DO: Next one is called Junior and then the Third and Fourth.

 

Are you going to go the Weezer route?

DO: [laughs] Yeah. This is the fly album.

SD: I’m glad we self-titled it. The other one was called Make It Faster and then I had to answer more questions from random people at shows. Europeans who are like [in an accent] “So what does Make It Faster mean?” It doesn’t matter. If it’s Trampoline Team, I just have to answer “What is Trampoline Team?” and the answer is “It doesn’t matter.” It’s fewer questions that people get to ask us, so that’s even better. Not people like you in interviews. Strange middle-aged men at merch tables have fewer things to ask me.

MH: Punishers!

DO: I wanted to call it Why Are You So Sweaty?  but no one asked. [others laugh]

SD: You were not asked!

DO: I was not asked. It was Wasted at Keno or Why Are You So Sweaty?

MH: Wasted at Keno is about to be your shit.

 

I love the quote you put on the back about the French Quarter pimps. Where did you get that?

MH: That’s the cover of The Times-Picayune!

SD: We just took the newspaper.

MH: I was just smoking weed with my mom and I saw it. I was like, “Hey. Can I have that?” and she was like [in a snooty tone] “After I’m done with it, Michael.” [laughs]

SD: This photo is just what The Times-Picayune looked like. We just took it and scanned it. The actual headline said “French Quarter pimps bring drugs, violence.” By the way, my dad called me the other day to ask me if that naked person was me and I was like, “No dad. I’m pretty sure that’s not even a real person! I’m pretty sure that’s a painting in the background of Bourbon Street!”

DO: [In a fatherly voice] That you, Sam?

SD: He was like, “It’s OK if it is.” I got really freaked out. He had texted me because he had ordered the record.

 

I had just assumed that was one of Michael’s pictures or your pictures.

SD: Yeah. I think that a lot of people thought that it was one of our pictures because a lot of people were like, “Oh. That’s a great photo.” Yeah. I know. Whoever took it for The Times-Picayune is great! Times-Picayune photographer, great job!

MH: Yeah. It was Chris Granger. Shout out to Chris Granger!

SD: No don’t, because he’s going to sue us!

MH: It’s fair use! I scanned the whole thing and edited it and now it’s my own work of art. Shout out Chris Granger! You can’t sue us!

DO: Call Andy Bizer.

MH: [laughs] Yeah. Don’t make us get wiser!

SD: And we thought it would be kind of funny. The front is kind of stark, so the back can be more fun. I didn’t know what to do for a front cover because last time we lit a mattress on fire and stood in front of it. I didn’t want to light anything on fire again, so Michael’s picture was really good.

 

Earlier today, the ANTIGRAVITY photographer was contemplating ideas for the photoshoot. He asked, “Have they set things on fire before?” so I sent him the picture [of the Make it Faster cover].

SD: Then the fire wouldn’t go out. I brought the fire extinguisher from my house—

MH: It got out of control!

SD: Thinking that, of course, the fire extinguisher from my house would work and it didn’t. My friend Nick tested it and it just went [sad puff sound]. Nothing came out.

MH: I had tested it and it did work, but I guess that I had gotten the last spray.

SD: And it was like oh shit! We had to fill buckets of water up.

MH: Nick went to grab a big basin of water that we had filled up already and he threw it on the mattress, but it just knocked the mattress over. When the mattress hit the ground, it exploded! It was crazy!

SD: Right here! In this backyard! I was like, “Oh my god. Someone’s definitely calling the cops!” Yet no cops came.

MH: It was this huge fucking flame! I just took the hose and it took 20 minutes for it to go out. I put it out with a garden hose.

SD: There was also a termite swarm, so while we were taking that picture I had termites up my nose and in my shirt, everywhere. It was disgusting.



So you much prefer not having your picture on this record?

SD: Yes. It’s perfect.

MH: Yeah. Sadly, that plant died. RIP. Shout out my venus fly trap that’s dead. I miss you.

SD: We’ve lost a lot to this band.


Trampoline Team’s self-titled album is out now on HoZac Records. For more information, check out trampolineteam.bandcamp.com. Top photo by Mike Hartnett