Cosmic Trigger Have Mastered the Art of Riff-Centered Stoner Rock

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Tyrel Choat's fingertips surged with power when he first pulled a riff out of an electric guitar. His older brother taught him the monstrous riff from Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf," and when he figured it out himself, he acquired a scorching propensity for riff writing that never burnt out.

When asked if his band, the Cosmic Trigger, is specifically riff-oriented, he responds by naming his three favorite bands: Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. "All of them have those magical riffs," he says. "How can you imagine Led Zeppelin without those riffs?"

For the last year, they've been finding their footing after making some substitutions to the band's line-up, which included the removal of a second bass player. "You know how it goes," Choat says with a sigh. "You're just not getting what you want and the whole band knows it."

After floating in limbo for a few months, they found a new member in a fan of the band, Spenser Freeman. He's been a welcome addition to the band, bringing refreshing new ideas and complementing the band's songwriting.

Last week, the band released The Cosmic EP, which features two songs from the forthcoming album they're planning to record in December. The first track, "Valtaire," is six minutes of searing, glorious riffs, crunching power chords and growling vocals from Choat.

The flip side of the EP takes a complete 180 with "Catharsis," a slower, cleaner angle from the band, entirely different from anything else they've done. This was partly due to line-up shifts, but largely because the band wanted to have more palatable songs to diversify their catalogue and reach out to a wider audience. The technical, riff-centered second half of the song shows they're not abandoning their defining characteristics, just giving them a new coat of paint.

The mindset for the song is entirely new territory for the band as well. Though he usually tries to keep most of his lyrics positive, "Catharsis" was about the previous members parting ways and about Choat finding out that one of his bandmates was with his girlfriend at the time. "The lyrics are definitely dark," he says. "It was difficult. I'm over it now, but it was just a different angle to write songs from."

The transition from the band's last full album, The New Order of The Cosmos, to this EP hints at the expansion of the band's tone. Even with just two tracks, the song stylings feel more varied and potentially more approachable, which was what Choat had in mind. He was sick of being disregarded for festival bills due to being a heavy metal band. But instead of giving up the genre he adores, he found a middle ground by using different stoner rock ideas to broaden the band's appeal.

"I'm not going to play Texas country just so I can get our stuff played on The Ranch," he says. "But if you listen to Queens of the Stone Age, you'll get the heaviest song in the world followed by a ballad. That's kind of what we were trying to do."

In getting the ball rolling again, it's been a struggle to get the money to get some studio time. The band has been caught up in the catch-22 of needing money to record, but needing a record to make money. "We would try to play festivals in Fort Worth," Choat says. "It's an arts festival, but it's almost like your art isn't welcome there, and it just feels weird. It's an uphill battle, but I know we're going to win out."

The EP is serving as the stepping stone for now, and has yielded great reception so far according to Choat. Between now and December, he's tried to book as many shows as possible in the band's hometown of Fort Worth, and has his sights set on Dallas, which has a solid metal community. Undeterred by the barriers that have been put up by booking agents, Choat truly believes in what he's doing.

"I can't just pick a different style of music; this is what I love," he says. "I think we could be the next hard-rock band to take over Dallas."

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