Mythmakers

Heading into battle with Mukilteo prog-rock prodigies the Fall of Troy.

ASK ANY HARD-BOILED Seattleite where Mukilteo is, and they're likely to respond: Mukil-what? Many city dwellers tend to ignore our suburban neighborseven if they're a mere 25 miles northand pass up opportunities to experience that city's charming malls, splendid waterfront activities, and burgeoning rock and roll scene. One of the young bands leading this musical movement is the Fall of Troy. Best known for their quirky stage antics and post-hardcore/heavy metal/'70s butt-rock sound, this homegrown threesome plan to work Mukilteo into the everyday vernacular, and they'll scream at the top of their lungs in order to do so.

Seated around a small table at the Lynnwood Mall Starbucks, guitarist/ vocalist Thomas Erak and drummer Andrew Forsman throw barbs at one another and giggle like schoolgirls at their own jokes. The two 18-years-olds (bassist/vocalist Timothy Ward, also 18, couldn't make it on account of work) boast the expected qualities of people that age: confidence, excitement, and sheer optimism, the latter with good reason. The 18-month-old band released its self-titled debut on Lujo Records early last month, and is already more than half finished writing the next one. A self-proclaimed "modern-prog-rock" band, the trio's sound is defined by its tight, aggressive melodies and challenging compositions that run the gamut from Yes-inspired tempo changes to Botch-style heavy-metal guitar riffs.

On The Fall of Troy, the songwriting and compositions are equal parts youthful experimentation and organized chaos. Recorded last year at the Hall of Justice studios during the band members' spring break, all 11 songs were, impressively, nailed in virtually one take. The album includes songs such as the Lord of the Rings-inspired "The Last March of the Ents" and an arena-style rock number, "The Adventures of Allan Gordon," based on Arthur Roth's seafaring novel, The Iceberg Hermit. Another track, "Mouths Like Sidewinder Missiles," is typical of the band's leanings. It begins with a frantic, syncopated drumbeat, over which Ward sings, "All this time alone, I cannot go home/Artificial friend, you reap what you sow," while the three musicians pass solos back and forth between them.

"This song is about a situation where someone I know is being emotionally played with and allows themselves to be," said Erak. "I've had some experiences like that with girls, but when you're our age, I guess that's normal. Just going through high school, I saw a lot of people just let themselves be ripped apart pretty hard. I guess that's why we scream a lot on the album. Some of the songs are very emotional, and when someone gets pushed to their emotional limit, they don't sing, they scream."

Although the band members are barely old enough to vote, Nelson has been playing drums since the sixth grade and Erak, whose 15-minute guitar solos have been known to make musicians 10 years his senior blush with envy, claims that he has never taken a guitar lesson in his life. "I grew up going around the world with my dad [Tom Erak, who has played with the Eagles, B.B. King, and Tower of Power] on tour, going on stages and having guitars and drums and basses lying around for me to play with," said Erak. "I learn music by ear, and I only recently began practicing my scales. Music is my only choice, and it's the only thing I work at." Both Nelson and Erak say that they have the utmost support from their parents, and their mothers even came to Graceland for their first big show. Erak's father also recorded their first EP, Martyrs Among the Casualties (2002).

The latest endeavor for the band is the addition of 19-year-old keyboardist Jesse Erickson. Until recently, Erak would incorporate two guitar parts for most of their songs by placing an amp on both sides of him and using delay pedals to loop a sound on one side and play another part on the other side. Erickson will now be responsible for one of those parts with his Wurlitzer and B3 organs. The new quartet is working on a six-part story about a Spanish war ship that is out at sea and encounters a ghost ship from another dimension. Erak will play the part of the captain, and the other members will claim specific roles also. "We want to get right back into the studio," said Erak. "Our style has changed quite a bit for this next album. What we are about is growing and constantly reinventing ourselvesthat's why I like to call ourselves a prog-rock band." Or, you might call it adolescence.

The Fall of Troy play the Old Redmond Firehouse with These Arms Are Snakes, Suffering & the Hideous Thieves, and Your T.O.L.L. at 7:45 p.m. Fri., Dec. 5. $6 All ages.

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