The Demented Drama Behind a Chart-Topping Band Going Full Proud Boy 1

Nu-metal band Trapt kicked off the year with a MAGA-themed Twitter meltdown, and celebrated the coronavirus summer with a maskless concert at one of the biggest superspreader events ever.

Now their frontman is closing out 2020 the only logical way: by proclaiming membership in the far-right Proud Boys.

On Trapt’s best-known song, the 2002 single “Headstrong,” frontman Chris Taylor Brown cautions listeners to “back off, I’ll take you on/Headstrong to take on anyone.” The track topped some rock charts in 2003.

These days, “anyone,” apparently includes anti-fascists, Black Lives Matter, George Soros, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and myriad Twitter critics. Trapt now find themselves among a small but determined crowd of minor-league celebrities serving as keyboard warriors for President Donald Trump, fighting his most fringe fights in the final days of a troubled re-election campaign.

True to form, the band announced this week that it would play a concert for police and members of the far-right paramilitary group the Proud Boys, of which Brown is a member.

Brown, who runs Trapt’s Twitter account, did not return a request for comment on Friday. But he’s been on a Twitter spree following the cancellation of a Trapt gig at the Dallas, Texas, music venue Trees, which apparently sent him even further off the deep end.

Trees “caved to threats to employees by a few of the under 100 social justice warriors who bitched about trapt in Dallas & who are also absolute sheep brainwashed by mainstream media. What a shame. Next Dallas show for Dallas Proud Boys & LE! POYB! See you SJWs there,” Brown fumed in a Thursday tweet.

Trees did not return a request for comment on the circumstances of the cancellation. But Brown’s tweet—complete with a Proud Boys slogan and a dig at lefty “social justice warriors”—suggested the band would host a show just for Proud Boys and cops.

The Proud Boys, a violent far-right group that found itself in the national spotlight following a shoutout from Trump during the first presidential debate last month, have participated in a number of brutal brawls and one deadly rally over the past several years. Although multiple police officers have stepped down or been fired for their ties to the group, law enforcement nonetheless has a documented history of links to and overlapping fanbases with the Proud Boys, as suggested by Trapt’s promise of a concert for members of both groups.

The tweet wasn’t the first time Brown had indicated affiliation with the Proud Boys, either. As journalist Kim Kelly previously noted, the group’s Cincinnati group claimed Brown was a member after he tweeted approvingly about them earlier in October. Reached for comment, the Cincinnati Proud Boys told The Daily Beast that Brown was, in fact, a member.

Brown seemed to double-down on his membership on Friday in an attack on the music publication Consequence Of Sound, which has documented his slide down the rabbit hole.

“You have a problem with me being a Proud Boy @consequence?” Brown, 39, tweeted from the band’s account. “You must hate the USA, just like the fascists in Antifa bankrolled by Wall Street, every major corporations and media outlet. Sheep like you. The entire entertainment media complex is pushing BLM ideology. THAT is FASCISM.”

Consequence of Sound wasn’t the only target of Trapt’s ire. Brown repeatedly accused the thrash metal band Power Trip of secretly conspiring to get Trapt’s Dallas gig cancelled.

In an interview, Power Trip’s drummer, Chris Ulsh, said Brown was off his rocker.

“The only band member that used Twitter was our late singer, Riley, who would bait this guy on social media,” Ulsh told The Daily Beast. “And honestly I can’t blame him, the guy’s loose grip on reality coupled with how much his band sucks seems like it made for a pretty fun rouse (someone sent me a screenshot where he referenced ‘fascist antifa’…).”

Unlike Brown, Gale had been a vocal Bernie Sanders supporter. (“If someone is wearing a Power Trip shirt, you can probably assume that that person isn’t like some weird, racist, meathead piece of shit — hopefully,” he said in a 2018 interview.) He’d also needled at Trapt on Twitter, posting analysis that suggested many of the band’s followers were fake. But Gale’s otherwise-offline members had no part in cancelling Trapt’s gig, Ulsh said.

“The idea that our band somehow, without the use of any social media whatsoever, rallied fans to get his band’s show cancelled would be quite the feat, but unfortunately we can’t take credit,” Ulsh said. “I think [Brown] just can’t comprehend that someone else out there wouldn’t want to give him a platform for his shitty rhetoric. Since the end of August, we have been mourning the loss of our brother Riley, so obviously this isn’t something we would focus time and energy on. But we do think it’s really funny!”

Power Trip wasn’t the first target of a Trapt tantrum this year.

Trapt’s Twitter account has been running off the rails since at least this spring, when Brown repeatedly defended attendees of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and went full-MAGA in the comments of a prominent Black pastor, accusing him of “making a career” of “victim mentality” after he tweeted negatively about Trump.

Sale records from multiple sources indicated that Trapt’s latest record, released this summer, only sold 600 copies in its first week. In a Trumpian turn, Brown refuted those numbers on Twitter, claiming that the band had actually sold almost 4,000 albums in that time and that the record was “probably one of the top 5 albums that will ever exist for all of time.”

But Trapt’s apparently lackluster listenership might have saved lives this summer. The band played a set at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, which was later linked to a massive COVID-19 outbreak—one (disputed) estimate suggested it infected 250,000 people. Fortunately for Trapt and its fans, the band’s set reportedly attracted far sparser crowds than other bands like Smash Mouth and Buckcherry, which also played the event. (On Twitter, Brown has repeatedly downplayed COVID-19, dismissing NIH director Dr. Anthony Fauci as a “quack.”)

The band’s online antics prompted at least one parody Trapt account, which poked fun at the nu-metal group with tweets like “there’s no way any of you fucking posers could learn headstrong on guitar. we can’t even play it. i haven’t played a real guitar onstage since george w Bush was preaident [sic].”

Brown, in turn, threatened to expose and sue the owner of the parody account, but backed off when it changed its handle to “TRAAPTOFFICIAL” with two As.

Trapt’s legal spats extend to their own collaborators. This summer, an artist who designed cover art for two of the band’s albums accused Brown of refusing to pay him the $4,000 he was owed for his art. The fed-up artist announced that he was filing a small claims suit against the band.

The daytime show “Judge Judy” reportedly got wind of the small claims suit and invited both parties to battle it out on air.

Brown, in turn, claimed the artwork was unusable and that the artist was “air[ing] dirty laundry” by asking for payment.

“We tried to make something that could be released,” Brown tweeted. “It’s not usable in its current form. This guy should not want the damn thing released. It’s just not good. I can’t believe that he thinks it’s wise 2 air dirty laundry like this but whatever he has to do. It’s not what I asked 4.”