Stuff We Sell

On Repeat Tapes OR4 Trooper Selected Works: 2000​-​2001

The Trooper story starts in noise and ends in chaos, which, in hindsight, feels mind-burningly tidy, knowing that the band’s relatively brief existence roughly bridged the unholy chasm between George W. Bush’s election and 9/11. Was Trooper channeling the era? Not explicitly. But when you choose to form a punk band here in Washington D.C. — a city where the psychic gnarliness thickens the air we breathe — you don’t always have a choice in the matter.

First, the noise. Having just survived the end of their high school band, Epson Energy, Paul Jickling and Daniel Martin-McCormick wanted to start something new with Jacob Long, a scene heavy they’d seen perform countless times in No-Gos and the (last) Seconds (of). The three shared a devout interest in the rude squeeze of Flipper and Karp, the molten drone of Black Sabbath and Black Flag, the elite feedback of Nation of Ulysses and Unwound. They were also interested in the drumming of their friend Sean McGuinness (then: Bazhena/Navies; now: Pissed Jeans), but he kept flaking on practice, so Long called on Mike Kanin, an ex-co-No-Go who seemed especially angry with his drums at that point in life. Together, the foursome’s intensity felt visceral and instantaneous, as if this new band was discovering new ways to sunburn your brain.

Then, the chaos. At their third show, Jickling broke the high-E string on his guitar and never replaced it, establishing a tacit philosophy for the group: Go as hard as possible and lean into the outcomes. From that point forward, Trooper’s music seemed to be simultaneously thickening and loosening, through a tour out to Chicago, through recording sessions in D.C. and Cleveland, until the band itself eventually fell apart (Jickling away to college; Kanin, Long and Martin-McCormick off to form Black Eyes).

By their last show, opening for the Dismemberment Plan at Fort Reno, Trooper had become an almost totally improvisational affair, delivering a set so savage, it inspired a proto-Yelper to post his grievances on the nearest punk rock message board. Never has some spectator’s digital whining doubled as a eulogy so perfect: “They sounded like they were just making it all up.”

--Chris Richards, September, 2023 

Trooper is Paul Jickling, Mike Kanin, Jacob Long, and Daniel Martin-McCormick. All tracks recorded by Hugh McElroy except "Hand in Hand" and "We Succeed When Your Ears Bleed" recorded by Mike Shumaker at Invisible City in Cleveland, Ohio. Art/Design by Greg Piwonka.