Subterranean Jungle: Interview with Johnny Trama from A Band of Killers

A Band of Killers has come up on my radar as a band to watch in the new year. This past year they have been busy, releasing four singles, three of which were collaborations with Toussaint the Liberator, and one featuring Tim Gearan. Guitarist Johnny Trama, who assembled these musical assassins, informed me that they have full length albums with both Gearan and Toussaint set to come out in the new year under A Band of Killers. In addition to his duties with A Band of Killers, Trama is a guitar slinger for a number of Boston bands as well as our hometown heroes, The Silks. If this makes the interwebs in time, you can catch Trama rocking with The Silks on New Year’s Eve at Union Station Brewery. A Band of Killers also are coming to Providence, at Askew on January 6th. Poised for a big year on the horizon, I spoke with Trama to find out more about A Band of Killers.

Marc Clarkin: You’ve been rocking with many bands including The Silks for years. Has putting your own group together been something you always wanted to do?


Johnny Trama: Let’s just say the concept of A Band of Killers has been around for a long time.  I’m always writing music and trying to collaborate with other singer-songwriters. I’ve been fortunate to play in so many different diverse bands, but because of that, it’s left me with the urge to write things that are truly the music I dig. The seed to A Band of Killers probably started a long time ago. I first collaborated with Toussaint the Liberator, a New England World Artist of the Year winner, before the pandemic. We put together a really amazing song called “Dreamin’ and Schemin’,” for which we did release as a single under our own names. With the soon to be A Band of Killers (Darby Wolf on keys, Tom Arey on drums and Marc Hickox on bass) playing on it, we recorded in western mass with Alan Evans who put out on his label, Vintage League. 

At the same time, I also was collaborating with a singer-songwriter named Tim Gearan and we put out a single called “Bring it Down.” Then the bomb dropped… the pandemic! The fortunate thing about it, as dark as those days were, I was super productive in writing and inspired by collaborating with these two brilliant artists. Before we knew it, we had written two full albums. I’ve been playing with the musicians in the band for a decade – we just never called it anything. So let’s just say the chemistry was already flowing and before we knew it, A Band of Killers were born!

MC: You touched on many genres in your playing. Who are the three most inspirational artists to you and why?

JT: So yeah, I’m kind of all over the map as far as being influenced as a guitarist, artist, and as a songwriter. I’m heavily influenced by classic soul music. There’s such a vast catalog of songs/bands/singers/vibes but if I had to choose one, I’d have to say William Bell. Another huge influence is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It’s everything from the songs Tom writes, to the chemistry of the band, them translating that and then turning it into something completely unique, and of course, Mike Campbell’s an incredible guitarist! I’m sure everyone mentions these guys all the time, but the Rolling Stones, especially the Mick Taylor period. It’s just something about how they combine amazing songwriting, personality, and a completely unique vibe when they come together as a band – lightning in a bottle rock ‘n’ roll at its best.

MC: You put four singles out online (which everyone can check out on your favorite streaming platform) this year, know you have been working on more tunes with Graham Mellor, what ya got cookin’ for 2023?

JT: So first off, working with Graham has been a blessing. He’s the first guy I’ve worked with that truly gets sonically everything we’re going for without even talking about it – a very talented cat! 2023 is gonna be exciting for A Band of Killers! We will be releasing two full length albums.

One featuring Toussaint the Liberator and one with Tim Gearan. Also a little special treat on the Tim Gearan record was recording a track with Susan Tedeschi. They should be out sometime in March/April.  We’re doing a small run of shows right off the bat in the new year with a lot more to come. We’re also back into the studio to start recording yet another album, so let’s just say 2023 is gonna be a busy year!

MC: I believe this is the first Band of Killers show in RI. What should everyone expect on January 6th down at Askew?

JT: Actually, this is a reschedule. We were supposed to have a show right after the pandemic, but it just didn’t pan out.  I believe everything happens for a reason. We’re much more in tune right now as a band and got a lotta new tunes we’re gonna be trying out on ya. Get ready for a rock & roll circus experience! Also, we’re excited to have our good friend Cody Nilsen warm up the night for us!

A Band of Killers featuring Tim Gearon, and Johnny Trauma joining forces with Cody Nilsen to rock Askew in Providence on January 6th.  
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