It’s been a short two years since the inception of Rat Trap, and the release of their 2012 sophomore album, Blueprints of a Paper City. But in that time, the group’s been through a lot of changes. Initially, Grant Simmons started the band as a two-piece garage rock cover band, which turned into a five-piece indie-folk band (including a violin). By the time they jumped in the study to record Blueprints of a Paper City, Simmons had traded his acoustic guitar for an electric, and started listening to a whole lot of post-rock bands like Sigur Rós and Explosions in the Sky.
“I made a conscious decision to try and do something a little different than the first album, try and incorporate more distortion and reverb, and make it a little weirder,” says Simmons. “The songs I wrote aren’t post-rock, but they definitely have post-rock elements. You get stuff like more violin, totally reverbed guitars. We’ll get some weird textures on the guitars.”
The first album, The Western Boundary, which was released in 2011, sounds like a forgotten Lou Reed folk album. The songs have a gentle, eccentric swagger, and Simmons sings in a voice that’s equally conversational and offbeat. Blueprints of a Paper City has a similar oddball ease about it, but is done over layers of sounds. It combines the sing-songy minimalism of Beat Happening with the complex sonic soundscapes of Mogwai.
The violinist remains an integral part of the equation. When Simmons first met him, he just wanted him to play over a couple of songs on their first album, but then he liked it so much he wanted it on every song. Aside from just the gorgeous sweeping melody the violin adds, it also influences the band to create a sound that is more mellow and restrained.
“We’ll go, ‘we want violin in this song, and so we have to restructure it.’ It makes us tone back a little bit, which always makes us sound better, I think,” Simmons says.
INFO: 9 p.m., Sunday, May 11, Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz; $8, 429-6994.