Jump to navigation bar

ON AIR

Not Live

15:26

Talks with Triathalon: a Journey Through Nostalgia, Now, and What’s New with the Band

Meet Triathalon: a Brooklyn-based indie rock band composed of Hunter, Adam, and Chad. In this piece, we talk about how the band started, festivals circa 2019, vulnerability in lyricism and more

Galila Assefa, Writer

Galila Assefa

Writer

In 2019 I went to Tropicalia, a two day music festival in Southern California. Unbeknownst to me, I had tickets for Saturday, but here I was standing in line on Sunday morning. But, thanks to the security guard that turned a blind eye when the ticket scanner went red, I had the chance to fall in love with Triathalon - the band I’m interviewing today. 

I resonate with Triathalon. Maybe because I can’t spell or maybe because mine and Adam’s journal entries might look a little similar, but that may be besides the point.

Triathalon caught my attention when they appeared on my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify. It was their song “Drip” with The Marias, which I eventually had on replay for the next few weeks. When I listen to it now, it reminds me of walking to campus, early morning fog, and a yearning for a love I had yet to experience. 

The chance to watch them live was 90% of the reason I bought my ticket to Tropicalia. I had their set time plastered into my notes app to make sure there was no chance I would miss it “Triathalon Mango Loco stage 9:10-9:35.”

There’s some kind of shift that occurs when you hear an artist live for the first time, the closest thing I can compare it to is a really good first date. Or when you thrift a pair of pants that fit you perfectly. Or you make yourself food and it actually tastes better than you expected. It’s a feeling you want to experience over and over and over again. It’s the feeling I get when I listen to Triathalon. 

Their experience of this day at Tropicalia, I learned, was a bit different.

So, thinking back to that 2019 Tropicalia..

G

That was a nightmare.

Adam

That was a rough one for us actually.

Hunter

That was like one of the most nightmare sets I've ever played.

Adam

That was one of the bigger festivals I felt like we'd had the opportunity to play, and we even did it the previous year. So to get it again felt really like an honor. Then there was that like, “oh my gosh, we gotta go play and there's gonna be so many people, it's gonna be such a big thing.” So I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, but I also felt like we were adding all these new elements in at the time. 

For example, I think about how we set up our live music, which was cool, but I think we were in the beginning of it. So looking back, I remember just thinking, “how did I think I was gonna set that up and that was gonna go well?” Certain things like that. But it was cool because it was during a transition where we were really working on newer stuff.

Chad

This was like the first time we tried autotune live. And it was having crazy feedback and was like totally off-key. I was a wreck after that.

Adam

We didn't have it quite figured out. And, as easy as it sounds to just turn auto-tune on and it's supposed to fix your vocals– and we were going for that T-Pain aesthetic– but we didn't know what we were doing very well then.

Chad

But, looking back, that was something that I feel like needed to happen almost.

Adam

So, in situations like this one, how do you reassure yourself? Because you aren't defined by your performance or a bad set. What's your mindset coming out of that?

G

I feel like you just kind of digest it a bit, and then it becomes a really good motivation to not let it happen again, because you see where you went wrong and all these little things, and you just kind of write it off as an opportunity to get better.

Hunter

See, I totally missed that. But how enthralling a band must be that, even during an “unfavorable” performance, they made me fall in love. In fact, ever since that set, Triathalon has been in my Spotify top 5 artists for 5 years and counting. 

So, you can imagine my joy when they responded to my message inviting them to the roof of my apartment in Brooklyn to chat with me about their music. And you can further envision my joy when I learned the kind of people they are: good people. And when good people make good music, it just works.

Since 2019, the world has fallen in love with them the same way I have, and it’s pretty clear why: they’re relatable as people and their music is too. 

Adam, the voice that echoes in our ears as we listen, explained to me his desire to be discreet over the internet - reminiscing on the band's first days in a “pre-IG life” when things were stripped down and simpler.

I feel like we would record all day and then Alex (the person who recorded the first EP Adam made) would, on a like 4-track cassette or something, put it into the computer and we'd upload it to Bandcamp like that night.

Hunter

No real stress. You know, it was really wholesome.

Adam

As music consumers, makers, and enjoyers today, we know that this simplicity is no longer the case. It’s also something the band has grappled with and learned to navigate.

How has the rise of social media impacted you, especially because you started from before that time and now you have to adjust as it’s happening. In other words, how has the idea that a band that is making music should also now be “marketed” along with all those other things affected you?

G

It’s been cool and not.

Chad

there's just such a normalized vibe of how people present themselves [online.] I can easily call how an album is gonna be rolled out, I can call how everyone's gonna post. You can call it now. It's very uniform. It's uniform. And so it's like damn, you know, you get this one part from our label who's like, ‘Y'all should be doing the TikToks and you should be posting more’ and it's like, ‘Dude I don't even want to go outside today, why am I gonna post?’

So, I guess to answer your question: It helps me realize how I don't want to present ourselves, what I shouldn't care about and makes me realize that I'm happy that we're like such a private band– we don't really put a lot of ourselves out there. 

Adam

But, he makes up for the understated online presence through his lyrics.

On the opposite end of that, how does it feel as an artist to feel that everything we know about each member comes from your lyrics– what you're saying and your words, your singing? How is it for you, as an artist, to release such an intimate part of yourself in that way and that what you're singing about, assumingly, is going on in your lives?

G

Good ass question. I guess I only know how to be vulnerable in lyrics. I can't sugarcoat shit, can't make up something. Maybe that's why I tend to be private because I put so much out there. 

Damn, this conversation feels like a therapy session. 

Adam

But, yeah, I don't know. That's a good question. I think at first I was like, ‘oh, I'm kind of like putting a lot of feelings or maybe things not everyone would sing about, but I just don't know what else I would sing about.’ If people come up to me being like, ‘I really resonated with this,’ I take it as, ‘oh, I'm just hopefully speaking for more people than just me.’ 

And I think everyone goes through very vulnerable intimate moments, so I don't feel as crazy as I used to about releasing it. But, I would also say, on ‘Spin’ (their most recent album release), I feel like I kind of held back a little bit on the lyrics for the first time.

Adam

You’ve like evolved stuff too, I think, as with anything. I think in previous records you would share more, you'd have more to say, more lyrics in a song, even. But then yeah I feel like parts of ‘Spin’ felt more like abstracted a bit where it wasn't so specific but just more broad and more universal.

So, it's just different, I guess. I can actually see how you express yourself through lyrics has changed a little bit over time because, even back on previous records when you had more to say, it was so cool that you'd be willing to just say that, own it, and live your life.

Chad

And now I don't think twice about it.

Adam

But I’ve always loved it too, because it's cool to be a member of the band, and then still relate to things you're saying. So it's cool that I can see other people obviously doing the same. Because I also find myself enjoying lyrics and wanting to connect with them.

Chad

To me, this fine line of privacy and vulnerability is relatable and what draws me to their music. Their lyrics, as simple as, “I’m awake again, everything feels like I’m faking it”  is something I’ve probably felt too many mornings than I’d care to admit. I admire writers like Adam and their courage to pour their hearts out into their songs and allow us to selfishly digest their heart’s aches and desires as they play over a beautiful synth. 

Even the way the lyrics are sung in a sultry voice, like repeating thoughts in your own head but prettier, provides listeners comfort. Like “oh, I’m not the only one who feels like this?” And somehow these negative feelings sung in this pretty way over this pretty beat makes the negative feeling suddenly something to be enjoyed and celebrated and shared and played on repeat. I’m addicted to this feeling, it’s the reason I love music so much.

At the end of the interview, I learned that Adam knows my roommate because they worked at sister restaurants, something he has to do in order to survive in the city as an artist. He talked about how having to work side jobs interferes with his bounce back after tours, and doesn’t really give him a chance to reset. 

Music makers and enjoyers alike dream of a world where they can do what they love and not have to worry about how they’re going to fund their lives.

I personally dream of a world where bands like Triathalon, and Triathalon themselves, can sustain themselves through making good music for the world. Music that allows us to feel. What is the currency for feelings? Because I would owe Triathalon a million. 

They shared that they dream of something similar after I asked them a loaded question:

Where do you see yourselves 2… 3… 5 years down the line?

G

I just want us to be making better songs than the last and, you know, growing at a rate that feels natural. I obviously would also love to not be working side jobs; it  would be dope to be able to fully live off of our art; I'd love that to be the case in three years. With all the work that we've done, it would be cool to really see that payoff in like a real epic way. But, in all, I just want to feel like we're getting better and growing, really.

Adam

Yeah, I mean, just having the time to put the most we can into our art would be the coolest thing ever. But life kind of gets in the way, especially with our individual lives. So, I hope that we're continuing to grow together and as individuals.

Chad

I want to not be stressed in three years. And I want to wake up and just be like, ‘cool, am I going to choose to do music or choose to just have a self care day’ and not really think twice about anything else. That would be really nice.

Adam

It sucks that you have to put so much of your life into just paying for your life. So you're just like, ‘I wish I could just do what I want to do.’ But I think we're getting there. And we’re also growing as people, too. Whether it’s feeling confident in who we are or what we do, I think our dream lifestyle is possible.

Chad

Sometimes, though, the goal is to just return to our roots, a time when one would make music simply because they liked making music.

I think this is when music is at its purest, when it stems from heart and not profit-- and, in a perfect world, your heart itself would yield profit.

Adam puts this sentiment simply:

Success, to me, is just feeling like I'm really proud of what we do and not having to worry about anything outside of that.

Adam

I thank Triathalon for providing me with this feeling for the last 5 years. If you’ve never heard their music, do yourself a favor and listen to my favorite song, YOU, or, their most recent album, Spin


HalfmoonBK logo