Triggers pulls the rock out of the basement

By by Justin Jacobs

‘ ‘ ‘ Squirrel Hill, with its old houses and safe streets, is one of Pittsburgh’s most… ‘ ‘ ‘ Squirrel Hill, with its old houses and safe streets, is one of Pittsburgh’s most family-friendly neighborhoods. But in the basement of one such house lies a well-kept secret. The kids call it ‘mdash; gasp! ‘mdash; rock ‘n’ roll, and it comes in the form of power-pop quartet Triggers. ‘ ‘ ‘ Practicing on Monday night in preparation for the band’s upcoming gig at the 31st Street Pub, Triggers’ beer bottle-filled, poster-adorned Squirrel Hill basement/communal house is completely filled with the band’s propulsive, Costello-on-caffeine rock. But don’t call the neighbors just yet. These are some hospitable boys. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Do you need earplugs?’ asked keyboardist and vocalist Brett Zoric. ‘I think we have some paper towels you can use.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Thanks, but no thanks. ‘ ‘ ‘ Zoric , all arms and legs with thick, black-rimmed glasses, sits behind his dual keyboards. Triggers launch into its catchiest song, ‘Anyone at Anytime,’ beginning with Zoric’s barroom shuffle on the keys. Guitarist and vocalist Adam Rousseau’s jagged riff cuts through the keyboard and launches the band, along with drummer Rich ‘Woody’ Kawood and bassist Joe Kasler, into the hyper-catchy song, a mix of Weezer’s crunchy guitars, Maroon 5’s white boy soul vocals and a swagger that’s all its own. ‘ ‘ ‘ The song ends. Silence. ‘ ‘ ‘ Zoric cracks a grin and says, ‘This is usually the part where someone yells, ‘You suck!” ‘ ‘ ‘ That wry humor is, at least in part, responsible for Triggers’ existence in the first place. Back in 2005, Kawood and Rousseau were, ahem, asked to exit their former band, The You. Conveniently, Zoric and Kasler similarly took a bow from their band, Monarch. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘We were kind of the rejects of different bands,’ said Rousseau. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘I would always say, ‘That drummer and bass player are awesome.’ Apparently, they said the same thing about us. Finally, we said we should probably just play together,’ said Zoric. ‘Then we all held hands.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ By the end of that year, Triggers had self-recorded its first EP and began playing around town at local mainstays like Club Cafe and eventually Brillobox. For the band’s debut album, Smoke Show, released just last year, it was time to bring in some outside help ‘mdash; enter producer John Hiler (Liz Phair, Duncan Sheik). But hearing criticism and actually listening to it were two different things. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘There’s a leap of faith you’ve got to take with a producer. Because he might suggest something, but if you wanted it that way, in a sense, you would’ve written it that way. In the end, you either trust him or you don’t,’ said Zoric. ‘ ‘ ‘ Triggers decided to trust Hiler. The result is 35 minutes of super slick party rock that would make The Cars smile wide and make Elvis Costello lower his glasses to look a bit closer. Zoric’s synthesizer lines trade thumping melodies with Rousseau’s guitar, while Kasler and Kawood are a driving rhythmic force ‘mdash; that is, a force that’ll drive you to the dance floor. Throw in the gang-shouted ‘whoa’s’ and ‘hey’s,’ and you’ve got a power-pop punch in the gut. ‘ ‘ ‘ But with full-time day jobs all, recording a full-length was no easy task. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘During pre-production, we would come home from work at 6, then we’d work from then until 2 in the morning, then get up for work the next day,’ said Zoric, who works in real estate. ‘The good news is, it didn’t let us f**k around.” ‘ ‘ For the actual recording, though, the band blissfully took off work to devote necessary attention to the music. ‘A lot of bands at our level end up taking months or years [to record] because everyone is working and it’s hard to get studio time,’ said Rousseau. ‘But we took off work, scraped together every penny we had and made this thing in a couple weeks, just banged it out.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Smoke Show hit local shelves and saw the band begin touring more than ever. But while booking shows has proved fairly simple, the band understands that economic woes, as well as hunger pangs, can dissuade a listener from checking out any band. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘We know what it’s like to put out five bucks for a show. That’s time sitting at a job you hate. Any time someone puts out that five bucks, that’s responsibility for us,’ said Zoric. ‘From the time they come in the door, it’s our job to make sure that person doesn’t think, ‘I wish I’d kept that and gone to McDonald’s.’ And that’s a choice. You can eat a footlong sub, or you can walk down the street and see us. It’s our job to make sure people continue to walk down the street.’