I had an interesting conversation with Rick Lambert, Lead Guitar, Vocals and Song Writer for Empty Trail. Lambert is very deep as can be heard in his lyrics, seen in his videos, and read in this interview. I was impressed with his desire to connect to people and help them through life’s difficulties with his music. His video for the Empty Trail song “Lost” is intense, and when he spoke about it partially representing the relationship with self it shows how deep he can go. Keep an eye out for this talented, up-and-coming band.
Interview by Fredda Gordon. Photos courtesy of Empty Trail.
Fredda Gordon: How do you describe your music?
Rick Lambert: It’s hard rock, it has a huge grunge aspect from the way that I sing, and it has a 90s vibe. Metal vibes as far as riffs. I don’t know a word for it. I guess I haven’t made one up for it yet.
FG: What drives your lyrics?
RL: When I write music it always comes from a strong emotional reaction to something. If I don’t have that going it’s very difficult to try to write a song, to try to develop lyrics.
We just released “Reality” yesterday. This one has a strong emotional connection for me but I guess the lyrics aren’t perceived quite that way. It’s more of a philosophy question: ‘What is real? What are we perceiving?’ Everyone is perceiving something a bit differently. Sometimes it’s a big communication barrier between people, [they] might get upset at each other for something that they’re actually both not looking at in the same way. That’s something that matters to me.
Lost was more about what we all [go through] from time to time. ‘What’s my direction in life right now?’ Maybe you had an A to B plan, and it didn’t quite work out that way. You kinda just keep going but you’re not really sure where you’re going anymore.
It always has to be emotional for me. It tends to be sadder topics just cause those are the most emotionally triggering I suppose.
FG: I’ve watched your “Lost” video and it was a little hard to watch. It’s very intense and you captured torture very well. That seems a little more extreme than life’s direction.
FG: You’ve been through a lot… can you talk about what you’ve been through and about doing a video that’s very intense?
RL: That song, those lyrics, came from a point in my life where everything I believed to be true, everything that I thought was going to happen, my whole sense of what the world around me was, crashed. Certain things personally made it impossible to believe what I used to believe and it just kind of ripped me apart in a sense. It made me question myself.
I think also what the video embodies, with the torturing aspect, is how your self talk can get really bad and you can start to really beat yourself up. That’s what I hope was symbolic in the video. It’s not the topic that we always want to talk about but it is real, and I think a lot of people went through it.
The song isn’t about somebody, it’s about a lot of things. But [it’s also about] trusting in somebody to be there and all of a sudden they become lies, they’re not true. You realize that [their] agenda was to just be there when it was convenient and then they’re gone. It’s something that we all deal with, the darker sides of life that unfortunately are real. That was my catharsis of getting it out through that video. Things happening in my life that disallowed me from believing the world to be a certain way that I thought it was before.
FG: You have three members in your band and when I listen to your music it sounds like more than three members. How do Shane Wallin, and Rom Gov add to your vision?
RL: First of all, thank you. It’s always a compliment to hear that you sound bigger than the sum of your parts. Rom, the drummer, is absolutely amazing. He genuinely is one of the best drummers that I’ve ever met. The fact that he’s in a band with me is absolutely amazing. Super great guy. Shane, same thing. He’s a great songwriter himself. He’s been writing songs and playing guitar for awhile. He plays bass with us, a multi-instrumentalist. Great guy too. And we all get along. The chemistry of the band is really good and that’s something that’s extremely important to me because even if the musicians are very good, if you guys don’t really get along in a human being type of way, it just kind of falls apart and it makes the whole process… y’know, it could be a negative one. But we all get along really well and the dynamics between us are good.
FG: How long have you been playing together?
RL: We’ve known each other for 4 years, but probably only 3 years, maybe a little more than that.
FG: You have two previous albums, Bare and Hollow Hearted, then you focused on singles and now those have come together for a third album. Did that happen on purpose?
RL: Yeah. The thing is, whether I want it or not, we consume art at a different rate at this point. Because things are thrown in our face all the time with social media and the internet, it’s hard to retain people’s attention so I wanted to do more of the single thing. I wanted to make the songs more important. Like ‘Hey! We released a song, check this out!’ as opposed to throwing a whole album out. It tends to get a little lost in the mix and most people are just so busy. The die hard fans for sure, they’re going to listen to the whole album. I would love to go in and just do a whole album and have the songs make sense in the way that they’re ordered. But we decided it would make more sense to throw really good songs out there, for example Lost, a really awesome music video, and have people experience that.
FG: Are you planning to tour?
RL: Yeah! We’ve been staying in the TX area. The rest of the year we have 2 more shows, both in the Austin, TX area, but then we are planning to get on the road. Next year is, in my eyes, the year that we’re gonna hit the road and start really gettin’ on tour around the US.
FG: You started solo in 2013, what did you do before that?
RL: 2013 was when the project started. It started with a three song EP, that I wrote and recorded myself, I think there was a session drummer in Los Angeles. Then the next two albums I did myself. Then the Bare album is when the band now, Shane and Rom, started to come on board. Before 2013, before any of this, I was in Los Angeles with… there was a couple of bands I was with. There was one called Sledge Leather, then there was Strix Luna that I was with for a bit in Los Angeles. Before that, I’m originally from Wisconsin, I was writing music under another band name called Living. I’ve been writing music for a long time.
FG: Were your parents into music when you were growing up?
RL: They were both into music but they didn’t introduce me to the music that I ended up playing. My father’s always liked music and he had some records down in the basement that we’d play.
FG: What records?
RL: The Rush record 2112, I remember listening to that a bunch, the Black Sabbath self-titled one with the weird guy with the sword, and all the classic albums. The Led Zeppelin classic album I remember getting introduced to, but I wouldn’t say that my father was a big rock fan in that way but he had some of those that I checked out. My mother was more of a music fan. It’s funny, it was in the pop realm, it wasn’t even rock. I got introduced to the rock music that I like when I was in the 7th grade. Some friends showed me Metallica and it was right around the time that I learned guitar too. I just was totally inspired. I want to do that. That is cool.
FG: What was your first meaningful musical experience?
RL: The turning point for me was in 7th grade. In 6th grade my father brought home a guitar he found in the dumpster. And he [said] “Hey, I don’t know if you want this…” and I didn’t really mess with it until the year after where, like I said, there were these group of kids that introduced me to Metallica. I had a friend that gave me a burned disc of all these hit songs. When I heard Master of Puppets I had a moment where I’m like ‘What? What is this? This is interesting to me!’ I didn’t grow up with that, I just thought it was so cool. And that’s when I had a mission, ‘I’m going to get really good at guitar playing. I want to do this. This is awesome.’
FG: Did you take lessons?
RL: I did take lessons for little bit, but I’m the type of person when I like something, like a lot of people, I get really obsessed with it. So I just sat down with the guitar and practiced maybe 4 or 5 hours a day, getting really good at it obsessively ’till the point that I could kind of play where I was happy. I did take lessons too.
FG: Do you still practice?
RL: Not as much. The thing I do now is write music. I write a lot of songs. I don’t really practice unless something’s written where… sometimes what will happen is I’ll write a song, put some riffs and then it’s kind of tricky, like tap your head and make circles on your stomach. It becomes a little awkward to play and sing at the same time so I’ll practice that a little bit to get it down. Other than that, not really much practicing at this point, more just creating with the skills that I earned.
FG: What message would you like to give your fans?
RL: I don’t know if this will answer your question exactly but, for me what’s really important is connecting with my fans. Music, playing guitar, practicing, getting good, writing these songs, is a fun experience and it’s a rock show and I want people to enjoy it, for sure. But something that really drives me, more so than all of this, is connecting with another human being. I remember when I was going through a rough time that there were songs that spoke my language. There was something extremely powerful about that.
Actually, I didn’t say this before that THAT was something much deeper than thinking it was cool, thinking like I want to play guitar, that’s when I felt like I had my purpose. I wanted to create for other people that maybe don’t have a voice that need that music the way that I did. To just wake up in the morning and be empowered to keep going. Because the world is tough sometimes for sure. The message to my fans… I don’t know if I have a specific message. If anybody does connect with the words, good or bad, I love when somebody says that. That is the biggest compliment that I could ever get. To share that moment with another human being just transcends everything that’s happening in the moment or around us, y’know, the next day or before. It kind of gives us all purpose. Not to be corny, but it is, that we are kind of in this together in some weird, cosmic way. Connecting with other human beings is the most important thing out of everything I do.
FG: It’s funny because it comes from a place of solitude, this connection. When you write your songs you’re not with anyone and you create something that brings people together.
RL: I think that is what is so beautiful about it. When you reach into your psyche and create something that’s completely coming from you and when someone resonates with that and says “This is me too,” there’s something really powerful about that. Because it is very vulnerable. I like writing music that’s vulnerable. I like to write music that is really me, coming from my sights, and when people connect with that it’s extremely powerful. ‘Oh, wow, you feel this way too!’ So, we’re not alone, y’know?
FG: What do you do when you’re not doing music?
RL: I don’t know. Music has been the number one thing. I’m always writing. I’m always kind of moving things forward. I like hiking, nature. I like to … let’s see… I’ve been on a binge watch of Breaking Bad, again, I already watched it, and then I’ll watch El Camino. So, it’s kind of funny, I wasn’t even on board that this was coming out but I was like ‘Oh, yeah, they’re making this little movie, I guess I’ll watch the whole series again and then I’ll watch that.’ I like to chill and relax, I don’t really have a specific other hobby. I love to always be in nature, that’s awesome to me. So hiking is just a code word for getting out in nature (chuckles). I used to play tennis but I can’t say I do that much anymore.
FG: What goals do you have for yourself / for your music…
RL: The simplest goal is to reach more people. Get situations where the art can be exposed to a larger fan base and keep pushing things forward. Get the message out, connect with more human beings. That’s my goal. The end goal… I guess there never could be an end goal. What’s fun is when you reach these goals that you want you have to keep making more goals no matter where you’re at.