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Wisconsin metal band leaves its trace

Michaela Paukner, Editor-in-Chief
December 12, 2012
Filed under Entertainment

Although it’s called No Trace, this Wisconsin hard rock/metal band is doing everything possible to make its mark in the metal music scene. Green Bay shows are expected for late December and January.

No Trace formed in 2007, with current members Dustin Studelska, guitar, and Zach Ostrowski, rhythm guitar, and former members Brad Wigh, Jeremy Moroder and Alex Studelska. The band originally covered classic rock and alternative songs.

The band underwent its first lineup change within the year, with the departure of drummer Wigh. No Trace added current drummer Noah Dalibor, but soon after lost another founding member, vocalist Moroder, in December 2007.

Ostrowski said the band played more classic rock songs during its time as a four-piece band. He noted No Trace won an Ozaukee County, Wis., Battle of the Bands show with just four members, which gave the remaining members more faith in the band.

No Trace continued playing together as a four-piece band for about a year, until, what some may call fate, brought No Trace and Jocelyn Abfall, current lead vocalist, together.

“Noah was googly-eying Jocelyn at school, and he started talking to her about music and the band,” Ostrowski said. “Eventually she tried out for lead vocals, and we were like, ‘Yeah, you got it if you want it.’”

Abfall said she always wanted to be in a band but didn’t imagine she would end up in a metal one — or even as a singer.

“I used to be terrible at singing,” Abfall said. “When I was 13, my brother heard me sing on the lawn mower and told me it sounded like I had a cat caught in the blades. I didn’t have much confidence before joining No Trace.”

A female lead brought a few changes for the band. Ostrowski said they had to pick songs they thought would sound better with a woman’s voice. Studelska and Ostrowski also had to adjust tuning to better suit Abfall’s voice. In turn, Abfall sped up the band’s transition to metal music by introducing the members to heavy metal band Bullet For My Valentine.

Bullet For My Valentine cover songs were the gateway to screaming in No Trace’s music. Ostrowski learned how to scream because  Abfall wasn’t able to both scream and sing all parts of the songs.

“I watched videos on YouTube and found tips online how to do it,” Ostrowski said. “One of the first things you do is find a tone or pitch and start screaming it louder and louder. So one day to practice, I was doing that for like an hour and a half at my house. When I went downstairs, my roommate and his two friends were there. They looked at me like I was nuts. They thought I was summoning Satan.”

In 2009, as the band members approached the end of their freshman year of college, they began listening to even heavier music. Ostrowski remembered a specific YouTube video that made a lasting impact on the band’s musical tastes.

“Dustin sent me a music video of ‘Through Struggle’ by As I Lay Dying and said ‘Dude, this is the definition of head banging,’” Ostrowski said. “Just the energy and being able to play fast and technical like that was a lot of the influence.”

As I Lay Dying led them to listen to Shadows Fall and Metallica, which Ostrowski said are No Trace’s biggest influences. The band members agree No Trace will stay in the metal genre into the future.

“Such heavy music terrified me at first, but then I began to fall in love with the sound and how complicated and beautiful it was,” Abfall said. “Now I’m completely devoted to this genre and have no desire to sing anything else.”

The band continued to focus on its new metal identity but soon faced another change. Abby Rankin, No Trace’s bassist since 2010, left the band in June 2012 because of traveling distance and future career goals outside of the music world.

Nate Grulke, long-time friend and No Trace road crew member replaced Rankin.

Right now, No Trace consistently plays five original songs, with additional originals the band has quit playing or hasn’t fine-tuned yet, Ostrowski said. He said writing the music is a collaborative effort among himself, Studelska and Dalibor, but Studelska writes most of the lyrics. Studelska said he gets inspiration for his lyrics from his beliefs, struggles and successes.

“I try to write music that’s original and reflects how I think the lyrics would sound to others,” Studelska said. “I want my music to say something to everybody who listens and not just be an outlet for me. Right now, I am totally inspired by the idea of empathy and how there is a distinct lack of it in our world today.”

Studelska said people enjoy No Trace’s original songs as much as the songs it covers, and he’s been told the band is constantly improving. Ostrowski said he’s heard similar positive feedback.

“A lot of people seem to like us,” Ostrowski said. “Half of it is probably because we have an attractive, female lead singer, but people have been very receptive to what we’re trying to do. We’re giving it all we’ve got at every show.”

No matter what the future holds for No Trace, its members said they love what they’re doing right now and hope they can share the feeling with their fans.

“We are all great friends and just have fun when we play,” Studelska said, “but we also want to positively influence those who listen to us. Inspiring people to do something positive or become confident in themselves would be my ultimate goal.”