by Adam Wolnski
Trenton’s EP Ghost Runner, coming out August 18th, is a synthy, passionate journey through darkness, doubt and shame. But there’s no wallowing or self-pity, it’s an honest documentation of discovery and humble learning, with plenty of victories along the way. Ghost Runner slips into your subconscious when you’re listening, and the wall-of-sound pop melodies will involuntarily come out of you at random during the day, but a little deeper under the first layer of listening is where Trenton really shines.
Technically, Ryan Courtney started the band Trenton when he was 16. He’s come a long way since then, as most high school musicians do if they stick to it, but nonetheless, he’s never changed the band name.
“The music was very young, whiney, very nasally,” Ryan said. “I was trying to figure out how to sing. So honestly I had thought about changing the name Trenton when I got older, but a lot of things happened in my life to add sentimental value to that name, so I ended up keeping it.”
Music will always be a part of Ryan. His mom was a Gospel singer and vocal coach, and even though he never let her give him a formal coaching session, he occasionally accepts and applies her motherly tips to take care of his voice. But that’s not to say that family is a small part of Ryan’s life; his band is named after his father’s hometown of Trenton, New Jersey. After picking up the name just because it sounded cool and international, a family tragedy forever tied him to it.
“My dad, actually, he passed away when I was like 17 years old,” Ryan said. “You know, the thought behind it is that that’s where my dad met my mom. That’s where a lot of his childhood experiences were. So even now as a 27-year-old, I named the band when I was 16, it’s just funny to me how it still has a sentimental value, and I’m proud of it.”
Ghost Runner goes deep into many of the feelings you can expect from someone who lost their father at the onset of adulthood. Ryan hurt a lot of people, distanced himself from the religion he grew up on and spent a lot of time being lost.
“Show me How, it’s not the most hopeful song, just almost like being ashamed of the things you’ve done, you know what I mean?” Ryan said. “I think as human beings we all make mistakes and we hurt people we don’t wanna hurt, so the first song is about that but there isn’t very much resolve on it. From that song up until the end of the EP there’s this slow build of redemptive qualities to it, that by the time you’re at the end, its like this journey of coming to terms with all these internal battles and coming out on top.”
Ghost Runner ends with Ryan repeating over the fading music: “I am fully awake now.” It has sentiments of a sigh of relief mixed with Ryan reminding himself to continue to move in a positive direction. Touring and constantly singing heavy lyrics from dark times would wear down most people, but Ryan doesn’t see it that way.
“I think it’s important to reflect on the things you’ve been through, because that kind of makes us who we are,” Ryan said. “I think music is just insanely powerful… when people relate I think it can genuinely effect them and heal them, cause that’s what its done for me.”
Trenton is playing a Ghost Runner EP release show with Myzica and Farro at The High Watt on August 26th; get your tickets here. Ghost Runner is available for pre-order on iTunes or your local record store.