Being in a local rock band is something like being on the varsity team, except you don’t have to quit playing when you graduate. Many local musicians, perennially seeking to stretch their past-due adolescence for just one more year, can extend their “career” as a local demigod for three decades or more.
Local musicians generally fall into three categories: the enduring favorite that everybody and his momma loves; the repeat customer, who is probably sitting on that same bench in the Longbranch right now, talking about his new band; and the lingering miscreant, an angry type who is known to grumble about “back in the day” when his band, Titanic Turd, regularly drew whopping crowds of 35 or so to the China King.
Somehow, Robbie Trosper has always managed to avoid the pitfalls of membership in the local rock hierarchy. Sure, you’ll regularly find Trosper happily jamming away in some dirty dive. But the man just seems unburdened with a desire for fame. In an notorious 1998 Metro Pulse interview as a member of Ramblin’ Roy, Trosper ranted, “We’re not trying to tour; we don’t want to make it; and we don’t want no nothing!” And that’s why it’s so curious that, after over a decade or so of sustained rocking, he’s now a professional, touring musician. Well, sort of.
Trosper’s band, The High Score, will celebrate the release of its sophomore LP, We Showed up to Leave (Lynn Point Records), this Friday at the Corner Lounge. The High Score features two guitar playing vocalists, Trosper and former Mustard axe mangler Chris Cook. This dynamic duo is abetted in musical crime by bassist Dave Walker and drummer Brad Henderson. With We Showed up to Leave, The High Score has come into its own as purveyor of twangy-yet-crunchy, CCR, GBV (minus the pretense) and ‘Stones influenced rock’n’roll.
“For this album, we were an actual band,” says Trosper. “Sexy Losers [The High Score’s debut album] was basically just a demo I’d done, right after The Faults broke up. Cook, who was an old friend of mine and in Mustard, dropped by the studio. We liked how that sounded, and we just started getting together and playing and having fun without trying to make it or whatever.”
At around the same time, The High Score [minus Cook, who is unable to tour on a regular basis] was recruited as former Viceroy/Superdragger Mic Harrison’s band. And after years of not aspiring to fame, Trosper & Co. found themselves appearing on big stages across the country.
“Well, we do play on a higher scale with Mic than what The High Score has played,” says Trosper. “As far as the bands we’re playing with, well, they’re better. I mean, when you’re in a local band you usually end up playing with high school bands or something.”
To promote the release of We Showed up to Leave, The High Score is planning some touring of its own, albeit on weekends only. “We’re booking shows, but we’re trying to be somewhat reasonable about [it], with gas prices being so high and all.”
Asked about the band’s influences and demographic, Trosper is, as usual, a little bit cagey. “You know, I really have no idea how to market The High Score. I could name people that I kind of think would get it, but I don’t know if those same people would actually buy it. I guess it seems like we get the 21 to 30 crowd, whatever that is.
As far as the sound itself is concerned, Trosper brings up classic rock—the stuff of dual guitar leads and big, John Bonham style drum rolls. The band gets comparisons to AC/DC, but he insists that they’re not trying to be kitschy. “We like to take something that’s borderline ridiculous, like the dual guitar leads in ‘Classic Rock,’ and we do it seriously. There’s a danger of sounding laughable with something like that, but there’s an innocence to it too.”
When questioned about his emerging role as a kinda-sorta, semi-pro musician, Trosper is predictably reticent. He didn’t seek his semi-fame, it just happened to him—by accident.
“Personally, I’ve been playing in bands since I was 14,” says Trosper. “It’s kind of like how, when your relationships start falling apart, you kind of start looking around ‘cause you don’t wanna get lonely. I just wouldn’t know what it was like to not spend two nights a week with a bunch of guys, playing the same songs over and over.
“As far as getting out and touring, I’ve just been lucky enough to find some people that get along. So that innocence is there ‘cause we’re still having fun.”