top of page

The Brooklyn-based Band Trespasser

Written and Interviewed by Veronica Anaya

Photography by Mark Bluemle

The Brooklyn-based band Trespasser consists of members Clay Rodgers (guitar, vocals), Matt Grimaldi (guitar), Natalia Catalan (bass), Hudson Christie (piano), and Jack Warnock (drums). Trespasser is not a band that you can define by their sound but by their incredibly charming presence. They blend genres such as country, rock, folk, jazz, and more to curate the sound they have, pulling in influences from bands such as The Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers.

Surprisingly, they have an album out despite being a young band with another in the works. The dedication each of them has to music and the band is evident through the talent they each exhibit, especially during performances. Their performances alone could turn anyone into a lifelong fan. Each of their performances has a different energy due to the change of setlist but also through their improvisation of a stage act or presence.


We talked to Trespasser about the origins of their band, live performances, musical processes, and so much more!

Where does the name Trespasser come from?

It comes from one of our songs, “Trespasser, I Saw.” We spent a while trying to decide on a name and at the last second Hudson (the keyboardist) suggested it.

How did the band come together to create the band it is now?

Trespasser’s sound and dynamic is only possible because of the sheer amount of time we’ve put in. We’ve been together about three years now, and we’ve spent a lot of time honing our sound and making everything tight. Through that process, we’ve come together to be one solid unit.

Who are the bands and artists that influence your sound? Do different artists influence each song?

The Grateful Dead is the biggest influence, especially in how we jam and structure our shows. Other big influences include the Allman Brothers, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Mac Demarco and Vince Guaraldi. 

Being that there are many of you in this band with different roles, do you bring in each different influences?

Definitely. The band is a big musical soup of different influences. Clay is mostly a rock and country person, Hudson is mostly into hip-hop and RnB, Jack is big into jazz, Matt brings some punk flavor and Nat is into folk and club music. 

You play a lot with different genres, is there a different genre you would be interested in playing with?

Lately we’ve been trying to write and play in a poppier style, with proper hooks and choruses. Our earlier stuff is more psych rock and jazz. We’re just trying to sell out, really. 

Not all of you were in the band originally, how has the addition of new musicians changed the band? Or does it not?

When we first started, it was just Clay, Nat, Jack and Hudson. Matt joined a few months later, after jamming with us a couple times. Matt isn’t a music kid like the rest of us, but he brings a strong rock and punk flavor to the band, which sort of completes our sound in a way. The resultant mix of virtuosity and raw energy is what makes us who we are.

How has the transition from the Clay Rodgers Band to Trespasser affected the music?

At first, Clay would write a song, make a demo, and the rest of the band would more or less copy it note for note. Now, it’s a more inclusive process. When Clay brings a demo to the band, we deconstruct it and build it back up from the foundations, so that everyone’s part is catered to their playing style. It also allows us to be more creative and adaptive in our arrangements. 

What does your writing process look like? What does it look like to create and compose a Trespasser song?

Clay is the primary songwriter, although they get a lot of help from Matt. Most of the songs are based on real stories- Clay spends a lot of time seeking out and paying attention to strange or unique experiences from which to draw inspiration. Stuff like driving across the country alone, having a conversation in an airport bar or going up into the mountains in the middle of the night. 

What song are you lyrically proud of?

“Judge” is definitely one of the top contenders. There’s also two on the new album, “Bad Stories” and “Old Community” which might be the best so far.

I read that your band performs often and did more towards the beginning of your band's upbringing, how has live music positively affected your band? Has it ever affected it negatively?

We’ve always thought of ourselves and a live band first and foremost. When we were at school we got to play almost every weekend, which was great practice. Now it’s more like every two or three weeks. Probably the only way it has negatively affected us is that we don't tend to play well in the studio. We put a lot of emphasis on putting on an entertaining show for an audience, so it can be hard for us to replicate the magic of a show into a bunch of microphones.

Do you ever practice your stage presence/ banter or does it come naturally?

We do to an extent. When we first started, the shows were much more chaotic than they are now. We recognized pretty early that this chaos was part of why people found our shows so fun, but at the same time we needed to be able to reign it in. We try to create the image of a runaway train, but behind the scenes it’s a well oiled machine. 

You change your set often, why change it every time?

There are a couple interrelated reasons. First of all, it’s just more fun for us, but we also want people to go in not knowing what to expect, even if they’ve seen a hundred shows. That’s what keeps people engaged and excited about us. It’s also just sort of the way you do things in the musical tradition we see ourselves as a part of. The Grateful Dead (and the bands that followed in their footsteps) established a de facto canon to structure shows, which we follow. The first set is more restrained and pop-like, the second set (or the back half of the first set if it’s a shorter show) is where things get weird. Part of the fun of following a band like that is going over the setlists and seeing which songs were played when, almost like tracking a sports team and seeing which players scored. 

What is your favorite song to perform live?

Running/Stanger. It’s technically a combo of two songs, but they’re always together. We sort of have this thing going where it’s often the flagship of our set but we don’t have any plans to release a studio version. It’s a sort of if-you-know-you-know secret for our fans.

Favorite venue you have performed at? Least favorite?

Our favorite is definitely Highside Workshop- there’s always a bunch of cool people and good bands there. Our least favorite (or maybe our worst show) was this one we did last year at Yale for the radio station. It was in the basement of some house and the sound was awful, plus the Yale kids didn’t get us at all. 

Any good or bad stories from your live sets?

One time we played this little festival down in New Jersey, and while we were playing the generators ran out of gas, making the whole sound system go down. The host of the show had to run to the nearest gas station to fill it, all while we were still on stage. We never stopped, though, we just did a really long drum solo, danced around and got some crowd chants going. Afterwards, the sound guy came up to us and said “thank God it was you up there when it went down, any other band would’ve stopped and given up.” So even though it was a bit of a trainwreck, we wear the whole thing as a badge of pride. 

What is the future of Trespasser? Where else do you see it going, is it still in NYC? Are you touring? More albums or EP’s to be released?

We’re going as far as we can take it, we’re in this for the long haul. We’ve got a new album coming out in a few months that we’re very proud of, so stay tuned for that. We also have a live show recording that’ll be coming out January 9th. We’d love to tour but so far are still just playing around the Northeast. If anyone knows a good booking agent, let us know :)

Go check out Trespasser during their live show coming up on January 17th, where I will be. The venue is still yet to be announced, but check out their Instagram @trespasser_band for more information. Go listen to “Live at Highside Workshop, 9/30/23” on all platforms!

Written and Interviewed by Veronica Anaya

Photography by Mark Bluemle

bottom of page