Arts and Culture

Lords of the Trident are making metal profitable

The band makes technically proficient loud music

The self-made legend of Madison’s Lords of the Trident — “the most metal band on Earth” — is fantastical, starting with the alleged birth of lead singer Fang VonWrathenstein from a volcano “at the beginning of time.” The tale on the band’s website is melodramatic to the sword hilt, complete with the ominous stage names of all five members, including those of several drummers, bassists and guitarists long departed.

The band’s current lineup is VonWrathenstein (Ty Christian on lead vocals), Asian Metal (Aki Shimada on lead guitar), Baron Taurean Helleshaar (Brian Koenig, lead guitar), Pontifex Mortis (Brent Clark, lead bass) and Master Hercule “Herc” Schlagzeuger (Brett Walter, lead drums). Yes, everyone plays lead.

“We’re all just immortal warriors over the span of history, basically,” Christian says, summarizing the band’s backstory. And the subgenre of metal music they play is the more traditional/power metal favored in Europe. When asked to describe that sound, Christian says, “Basically, if you could fight a dragon to the music, it’s probably power metal.”

Those who view all the black leather and forged steel as pretense and shtick are welcome in the fandom of LotT.

“We like to have fun with the stereotypes of metal and use them in our stage show,” Christian says of his band’s medieval costumes and the frequency with which they set props ablaze. “If you can’t laugh at the stuff in metal, then I don’t know what you can laugh at.”

Christian says the band is dead serious about making technically proficient loud and fast metal music and putting on entertaining live shows. “That involves being a little over the top,” he says. “People either get it and love what we’re doing or they don’t understand what we’re doing and they love it.”

Since forming in 2006, the band has independently released eight albums, three of which were made possible by Kickstarter crowdfunding campaigns. The German record company Killer Metal Records is licensed to distribute the band’s records in Europe, and Wrathchild Records, also based in Germany, hosted the band’s first overseas tour (with stops in Belgium, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany) this past September and October.

The band was able to self-fund the European tour from the nearly $1,500 a month it receives from some 180 subscribers to its crowdfunding Patreon account. That income also paid for the new “Tridentmobile” — a 2005 Toyota Sequoia that replaced the band’s less reliable “church van” — that the band takes on extended weekend regional tours. 

The band’s Patreon income has also made possible three annual Mad With Power Fests, one-night lineups of metal bands from all over the U.S. and dozens of free-to-play arcade games and pinball machines. The third-annual Mad With Power Fest took place in August at the High Noon Saloon.

“Patreon is our No. 1 thing right now,” Christian says. “We try to drive everyone toward the Patreon with everything we do because that’s our lifeblood at the moment,” Christian says.

In return, the band gives its Patreon members access to livestreams of performances and vlogs, mixed and mastered bootlegs of their live shows, an annual private concert and special-edition T-shirts, most of which the band prints itself. Christian says he’s always looking for ways to increase the offerings.

“It’s a positive feedback loop of crushing guilt. Every month I get a giant sum of money in the PayPal account and I’m like, yay! And then five seconds later I’m like, oh god. What have I done for them?” he says. “We do all this stuff which creates more backers which creates more money and more guilt.”

Click here to read more about Madison's music scene.


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