Robb Flynn on Trevor Strnad: “We couldn’t have asked for a better ambassador for metal”

Machine Head’s Robb Flynn and The Black Dahlia Murder’s Trevor Strnad
(Image credit: Press)

Trevor Strnad was a funny, witty, smart, sweet guy. He was such a massive presence, an incredible frontman, a metal maniac. Everybody I know who met him loved the dude.

The very first time I ever met him was back in mid-2000’s. Machine Head was touring the US and we had a day off. Cannibal Corpse were playing a show that night, so we went to see them. The Black Dahlia Murder was on the bill, and we caught the end of their set – they sounded great, and we ended up hanging out. Municipal Waste was playing a show the same night in a small club down the street. We were like, “Let’s go fucking rage at Municipal Waste!” So we all went down there, and Trevor came with us.

He and I just hit it off. He had this ridiculously hot girl with him, but he ended up staying out with me all night. We got shit-faced - absolutely annihilated. He actually threw up on the bar at one point when we were doing shots, then kept on drinking!  This was the first time I hung out with the guy, and it was like I’d known him for 10 years. I was absolutely raging with him, laughing my ass off. He was the sort of person who could hang out with anybody and you’d be best friends right away.

We mostly talked about music and about metal. We talked about how our tours were going, and how great Municipal Waste were. I ended up picking his brain: “You heard any good bands that you’re loving right now?”

I’ll never forget it, cos he told about this band Scarlet, and I’ve never forgotten it. The opening song on their record was called “Obsolete", man, I must have listened to that song 500 times at least. I was listening to it when we were working on The Blackening, and that one song had such an influence on that record - the way I started the record, the way I played some of the songs. And that was all down to Trevor, because he turned me onto this band.

He was more knowledgeable about metal than most people I know. He was constantly going down YouTube rabbit holes, just listening to demo bands. He was so into it. I don’t know if we could have asked for a better ambassador for metal than him. But he was also a huge fan of Motown and R&B. We had a conversation about it – if he wasn’t listening to metal, he’d put on some Motown.

Machine Head toured with The Black Dahlia Murder back in 2012, and that’s when I realised how good he really was as a singer and as a performer and as a lyricist. Lyrics are the one thing I gravitate to, and he had some genius lyrics – and some fucked up ones too. There’s one song, Christ Deformed which is about priests in the Catholic church molesting and raping kids. It’s so fucking savage, and that’s not an easy subject to write about.

The last time I saw him was when they played in the Bay Area in 2021. We hung out before and after the show, we didn’t get shitfaced that night - their next show was in Los Angeles, so he didn’t want to be a mess. 

I’d had him on my podcast a few weeks before that, and we talked about that. We’d spoken [on the podcast] for two-and-a-half hours – it was the kind of conversation you’d never have with somebody on tour or backstage. He’d been in a pretty dark place – he’d done an interview two or three months before, and it was brutally honest – he went really in-depth into how he’d been depressed and how hard the pandemic had been. We ended up talking about that interview on the podcast, and he told me how he’d been doing Ketamine therapy for depression. He seemed to be in a better place than he had when he’d done the interview a couple of months earlier. The feedback I got from that podcast was: “That guy is the nicest, sweetest dude.” And I told that to him afterwards, and he was stoked by it.

The last time I spoke to him was after his mom passed away, which was a couple of months after my mom passed away. I reached out to him and asked him if he was doing OK. He got back to me: “Thanks for reaching out man, I’m doing OK.” And that was it. That was the last time we spoke.

He’s going to be missed by everybody who knew him: his bandmates, his friends, his family. To me, he was an icon of the scene. He was just a great dude.