Interview: Culprit


Recently our writer, Nathan Cornell talked with Travis Powell, the lead singer of Los Angeles based indie-rock band, Culprit about their recent released, what’s in store for the band and many more. Check out the interview below!

How long have all of you been playing music? As a band and just in general.
The current Culprit lineup has been together for 2 years, and we’ve been building on our identity as a band for about 3 years now, but I started Culprit back in the summer of 2006 after a short tour with one of my old bands, Fetterline. I met some like-minded dudes on that tour, and we quit our bands and started Culprit.

Who are some of your favourite bands you’ve gotten to play with?
Happy Body Slow Brain is my absolute favorite band we’ve played with. Getting to spend 3 weeks hanging with those dudes, watching them play every night, it was a very humbling experience. Great dudes and musicians. Back Pocket Memory and I The Mighty are some of my favorite musicians as well, we’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by such great dudes.

Tell us about the recording process. Where did you record Totem? Who produced it? Did your producer have a heavy influence on how the songs came out or did he just provide a little bit of general guidance?
We did the first two songs in the spring of 2012 with Erik Ron, who also produced our last record, Analogue. Erik played a part in the development of our band, so it was an easy, comfortable process. We recorded the rest ofTotem this spring in Sacramento with Dryw Owens, which was a new experience for us. In the past, when we recorded Analogue with Erik, we were in the studio in between our daily lives, basically on nights and weekends. Erik really worked with us in between all the other projects he was doing at the time, and we were able to create the record without taking too much time away from our daily routine. Recording with Dryw was different in the sense that we had to take a vacation as a band, away from all distractions, and focus on creating our record. It was very refreshing.

What was the writing process for this record like? Was it different than past work?
It was different, definitely. This was our first record with Brian as a writer, so our process changed a bit. We write our songs in a live-practice setting, rather than tracking demos, which a lot of bands do. We pride ourselves as a great live-band, which I believe is a result of our writing process.

You guys have a very cool sound. It’s great mix of hard hitting heaviness and beautiful melody. Who are some your biggest music influences and inspirations?
Bands like Thrice, TREOS, Circa Survive, & As Cities Burn influence my writing heavily. I get a lot of vocal ideas from R&B stuff too, I’ve been jammin’ on The Weeknd and Justin Timberlake’s new records lately as well. I enjoy very dynamic music, which translates into our writing.

Travis, you have an impressive range and great control over your voice. Have you had any sort of professional training?
Back in 2009 I took a semester-long course at College of The Canyons called Pop Vocal Development. It taught me breathing, proper warm-up techniques, and what to stay away from before performing. That really helped broaden my range and build my stamina.

How has the response to Totem been?
We got a lot of really good feedback from Totem so far. Releasing a record is one of the most rewarding/nerve-wracking experiences. We got quite a handful preorders for the record which was really awesome, and our release show at The House of Blues in Hollywood went off better than any of us could have imagined. Totem was also well reviewed, we got some awesome comparisons to Circa Survive, As Tall As Lions, and Armor For Sleep from both and, as well as a glowing review from Idobi Radio. It’s been a very humbling experience.

Is there a message you want to convey with your music and specifically the new album?
Totem is a reference to the movie Inception, in which a “totem” is an object that one uses to differentiate between the dream world and the flesh-and-blood world we live in. We took the term “totem” to a much larger scale – Music is our totem. It’s the one single thing that keeps us grounded, that fills our world with color.

What’s next for Culprit?
We’re playing a holiday show in mid-December with our buds in The Material, Stanley & The Search & Barely Blind at The House Of Blues in Hollywood, as well as a short Northeast US tour right after the new year. We’ll be playing a few dates with The Venetia Fair & The Soviet. It’ll be our first time on the east coast, and Brian’s first homecoming shows, we’re really looking forward to it.

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