IN THEIR three years as a band, Triathalon has grown from Savannah’s surf-pop teen dream to one of the most fascinating, genre-bending bands the Southeast circuit has encountered.
Currently on tour in anticipation of their second LP, Nothing Bothers Me, Adam Intrator, Hunter Jayne, Chad Chilton, and touring band members Ryan Gilliam (Fare the Gap) and Lucas Carpenter are heading back down South for a release party at Hang Fire with Crazy Bag Lady, Jeff Zagers, and Culture Vulture.
Nothing Bothers Me was recorded by longtime Triathalon friend Lucas Carpenter. Over the course of the summer, the record was tracked individually, starting with drums, in various Savannah houses.
Former bassist Alex Previty, who recorded the band’s debut LP Lo-Tide, recommended Carpenter for the job.
“It came together very naturally,” says drummer Chilton. “He’s a good friend, easy to hang out with and work with if we wanted to change anything.”
“The funniest part is that there was no bass,” Intrator explains. “There were bass parts Alex wrote when he was still here; others were written without Alex. He recorded everything in San Francisco and sent it back to us.”
The real pleasant surprise on Nothing Bothers Me comes in the form of Hunter Jayne’s keyboard additions.
“I think, for all of us, our taste has changed since we were making the first record,” Jayne observes. “So the whole idea of this record was to make it just as much a keyboard record as a guitar record. We’ve been trying to put it in for a while now—now we’re on the same page, as a band, to make those new sounds.”
“We all want it to be weird, and it’s never really clicked as much as it has with the keys,” says Intrator. “The keyboard adds this extra sketchiness that you can’t get out of another instrument.”
The concept of “sketchiness” is crucial in Triathalon, and listening back through their discography, you can hear tunes giving into that slowly over time, with Nothing Bothers Me as the pinnacle. Tones swell, guitar splashes waver askew and float unsettled, notes hit that aren’t quite right.
“‘Chill Out’ is a good example of what we’re trying to do on the record,” offers Jayne.
Leading with a droning bass and just-off-enough guitars, it’s a wonder David Lynch doesn’t snap “Chill Out” up to soundtrack that mythical Twin Peaks reboot. The mix of unsettling, almost other-dimensional sounds against the groove of the song’s progression and Intrator’s wistful croons of “I’ve been dreaming of you” is completely captivating.
“It’s a pop song, but it’s kind of sketchy and deconstructed from standard pop structure,” Jayne elaborates. “We had no idea what it’s like adding different sounds, trying to branch out and explore dimensions of music and use those, while at the same time trying to mess with them and still have pop sensibilities.”
“The three of us, we’ve been playing since 2012,” he says. “It’s evolved over time; the Relationchips stuff is straightforward, driving, surf-pop stuff, kind of garagey. I think we got more patient and desired different things out of the music we were making; it was very gradual.”
“We’ve been trying to make a record like this for a really long time,” says Intrator. “And now we’re really excited to dive into stuff we’ve been getting into and older influences, too. We want to keep going even stronger.”
While early Triathalon had distinctive Motown influences, the band has eased into more soulful, ‘90s R&B-inflected stylings over the years as their personal music tastes have shifted.
Exploring solo projects has enriched their playing as a band, as well; Jayne splits his time between Triathalon and his garage duo Wet Socks, and Intrator’s been gigging as Hawaiin Boi, a soulful solo project involving a loop pedal, guitar, and reverb-heavy mic.
“[Hawaiin Boi] influenced what we ended up doing together in coming up with new ideas for Triathalon,” says Jayne.
“That was a way to get ideas,” Intrator says of the project. “A loop pedal is a great way to get ideas out and try new stuff.”
The solo pursuit’s produced some material for future Triathalon releases as well—but for now, the band is excited to release Nothing Bothers Me, plan their spring tour, and get back to Savannah.
“We’re just excited about it,” says Intrator of the album release party. “It’s cool to come home and play. Jeff Zagers will be playing, who played on our album, Crazy Bag Lady’s going to rip it up, Culture Vulture, everyone loves that band—it’ll be a good show.”