Trapt lead singer Chris Brown spent high school dodging cops who wanted to bust his after-school parties and trying to convince his skeptical parents that he could pull off a career in rock 'n' roll.
After meeting bandmates Peter Charell and Simon Ormandy in suburban Los Gatos, Calif., things didn't get much better. The band's start was dicey, with members scattered along the central West Coast attending college and driving hours to meet for gigs.
After years of self promotion and three independent CDs, the band quit college and moved to Los Angeles in late 2000. A major record deal fell through and their original drummer left the band. They quickly picked up Aaron Montgomery, a Seattle native, and finally signed with Warner Bros. in 2001.
All those years of suburban frustration were channeled into Trapt's platinum-selling, self-titled debut album, released in 2002. It went platinum and is still lingering on the Billboard album charts after peaking at No. 42.
AP: You dropped out of college to pursue your dreams. Did people think you were crazy?
Brown: We definitely kept the college thing going until the last second, but at a certain point you have to go for one or the other. Really, you can't do what other people expect of you.
AP: You grew up in ritzy suburban Santa Barbara. Were your parents mad when you became a musician?
Brown: Pretty much the experience was to have a safe route and a guarantee. Any parent would do that. The chances of making it in a band are slim, but you just got to believe in yourself.
AP: And now that you have a contract and success, what do they think?
Brown: When we started taking showcases and it became apparent we were going to get signed, my mom was pretty down with it.
AP: And Dad?
Brown: He's happy.
AP: What was it like growing up in the suburbs?
Brown: I lived in, like, a suburban sea in Los Gatos, this sheltered and privileged area. You get a lot of authority figures who will do anything to mess up the kids' fun. It's harder to grow up faster in a place like that. You definitely get frustrated. My parents would work and I would have people over after school and the cops would come over just to see what's going on. You get in trouble - I got in trouble - with the law.
AP: Did the lyrics you wrote come out of those experiences?
Brown: All the songs kind of deal with my problems with myself. All the lyrics were kind of like society's problem with me or my problem with society. But then you start figuring out, maybe it's not society or community's problem with you. It's your problem with them. You kind of figure out your own insecurities, your own problems. All the lyrics are dealing with yourself first, before you deal with others. Worry about yourself first.
AP: There's a picture of a guy pushing a lawnmower on the cover of your CD. Where did that come from?
Brown: That's kind of like our symbolism of suburban life. It just kind of reminds us of back home.
AP: Trapt's Web site asks for fans to send in their stories. Why do you want them?
Brown: If I have insecurities or problems that happen to me, I write lyrics about them and that's my kind of therapy to help me through my problem. I want to see how our fans deal with their problems and different things that they go through ... just kind of listen to their stories and maybe find some of the best stories out there and visit these kids and get to know them.
AP: How is the second album going?
Brown: We got probably about half of it done so far. Sometimes I'll have a riff with our guitar player. There's a certain mood there and I listen to the music and the lyrics just come out. I do the lyrics after the music. A lot of stuff has been written on the road. Some has been written just hanging out.
AP: What's the craziest experience you've had on tour?
Brown: There was this time in Florida, it was our first big radio show. We started playing 'Still Frame' and I yelled to crowd to, 'Just get out all your emotions.' People started throwing ... just a tornado of bottles on the stage. They went even more nuts when we started playing 'Headstrong.' It was kind of like they accepted us.