What was the inspiration behind calling your band ‘Trans Am’?
I had nothing to do with it. Apparently, one of those jokers suggested Camaro and the other dude declared that “Trans Am’s were cooler than Camaros”. Which is, I think, proven. Also, Trans Am has all sorts of other possibilities as a name. In Europe we are known as Trans AM (as in morning, I think) and I once talked to a gay comedian who liked the fact that we had “Trans” in our name. He said he would add it too his act. ??? He wasn’t very funny, actually.
Can you tell us a little bit about the core members of the band? Who they are, what instruments they play and a their relative backgrounds?
Yes. There is Phil, there is Seb, there is Natron. We all play everything – keys, drums, guitar, bass, vocals – but not always well. Frequently it is better for our writing process if someone doesn’t play very well. Live we have more fixed instruments. Since performing is the only way we make money any more, I won’t talk more about that – you’ll have to come see us.
I don’t know what “relative backgrounds” means but we’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve actually only developed our own identities in the past few years.
What gear does your band use?
Whatever is around – we used to have a studio with lots of stuff around, but now we are more of a band on the run so we just grab what we can find. Mostly the stuff is old. New stuff is too expensive and has too many rave presets.
What would you say have been major influences in determining the style of your band, and where do you draw inspiration from for your sound and lyrics?
Basically we are a post-punk band except we started about 20 years too late to really matter in a “history of music” kind of way.
Although Trans Am’s music has often been labelled as being Prog Kraut Stadium Rock, how would you describe your music to someone who has never heard of you and why do you think you remain a criminally ignored underground band that isn’t headlining stadiums?
I don’t think criminals ignore us. Actually, one of our favorite people to see on tour in the US is a kid whose brother called him from jail and told him to come check us out when we played this barn in Lafayette, Louisiana with Pansonic. Also, PKSR is pretty good. There was a poster in Croatia that called us Heavy American Electro Rock which also worked as well as any other genre.
What is the largest audience you’ve ever played to, and what would you say is the best and worst part of touring? Have there ever been any memorable events that you feel particularly proud of being associated with, and do you make a comfortable living from touring?
Whoa, Buddy. That should probably be two or three questions:
a) No idea, but on our recent tour supporting Tool, we played a few 16,000 seat venues. We’ve played some decent festivals but are you really playing to people there or just a bunch of muddy, deaf, drugged out zombies? (Nothing against drugs or zombies.)
b) Best=playing; worst=the other 23 hours in a day.
c) Yeah, heaps. We played a pretty cool little festival down in New Zealand this February called camp a low hum. Very small, but fun and with no attitude or bullshit. We make a little money but not enough to rest on our laurels.
Can you describe your daily routine as a band? What do you get up to whilst being in the studio and what steps do you take to ensure that your time on the road is as active and eventful as possible?
I don’t know. We will do anything in the studio but we usually just want smooth sailing on tour; that question gives me a lot to think about.
Can you describe Trans Am’s song-writing process? How do you come up with the various instrument parts and lyrics and collect these to form a seamless whole?
We play the songs a lot. If there isn’t enough then we add more. We have an aesthetic called Obscene Strategies. More about that later.
Who do you think is your target audience and what kind of people do you think enjoy listening to your music?
Our target audience is people who, when they hear our music, either want to dance, yell, laugh or buy merchandise. We’d prefer someone who is obsessive about all four. Unfortunately we mostly seem to attract stoners.
What bands are you listening to at the moment and who would you say are your all time favourite bands? Similarly, what is your stance on Prog Kraut Stadium Rock and which bands would you recommend our readers check out that belong to that particular genre?
I’m not listening to any music right now – trying to concentrate. Chrome is good. (Not Chromeo.)
What is your experience with record labels and what tips you give to someone who is thinking about creating their own record label in future?
Have another think about it: Are you crazy? If so, go for it!
What is your opinion on music compilations and what advice would you offer to those who are compiling their very own music compilation for commercial release?
Is this advice for you or someone you know? Maybe some more specifics would be helpful…I don’t have a position on compilations per se. Some are good. Most suck.
Considering that my favourite album by you is Red Line, which album would you recommend to our readers as being essential listening and something that you are extremely proud of?
That is correct.
Your album “TA” represented a major shift in direction for your band as more emphasis was placed on electronics and synthesisers. Tell us, what caused this progression?
Just trying to have some fun and break into the charts.
You’ve collaborated with The Fucking Champs on a number of occasions in the past to produce some wonderful EPs. Tell us, why do you insist on collaborating with that particular band and what is it like to work with The ‘Champs in terms of music dynamics and song-writing structure?
I guess we don’t mind playing over top of each other. We all have really loud amps, which helps.
Which other bands have you collaborated with in the past, and who are you looking forward to working with in future?
Well, we’ve got some friends who are very talented musicians, which is a quality we can use for upcoming releases.
What motivated you to start Trans Am, and what has kept you going over the many years and changes? What has Trans Am meant to you over the years?
We wanted to play music, make money, get free beer and avoid getting real jobs. Guess what, it worked! (for a while)
How would you sum up your career? Are there any achievements that you consider yourself to be particularly proud of and what would you like to achieve in future?
Not ready for that.
How would you define “respect” and how would one go about earning this?
How would you describe “cool” as a concept, and how would you determine as to whether someone is “cool” or not?
That’s also tough. People have spent so much money and time massaging our concept of “cool” that there has been a clear backlash underway for a while. I guess cool is maybe someone who deals well with resisting lazy attitudes towards how we present ourselves and experience the universe.
What book are you reading at present and which three books would you recommend our readers check out so as to increase their vocabulary and understanding of the world?
I’m reading some really bad lifestyle magazines at present. I wouldn’t recommend them.
How do you think the scene reacted when Trans Am first formed, and how do you think the scene has adapted in order to accommodate a band such as yourselves?
Well, we have some fans. There are a lot more guitar bands with synths and I think there is more openness to experimental or at least genre-less music. I don’t know if that had much to do with us though.
What is your experience of the DIY scene and the way in which technology is changing the world? What tips would you give on going it alone and how do you think the internet has aided you in terms of distribution, promotion and artistic expression?
It’s tough to start off alone but if you are established at all and well –organized you could definitely give it a go via the internet.
What is your experience of traditional paper-based media and does is bother you at all that you’re hardly (if ever) featured in popular music magazines like Kerrang and NME?
I like paper. I don’t really care about music magazines in particular.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about creating an alternative music magazine so as to rival the popularity of these magazines and challenge the status quo?
Good idea! I’ve never started a magazine though. Although I’m thinking about it.
Can you tell us five facts about your band that our readers may not know?
Seb is left-handed. Phil is not. Natron has pissed himself on stage over five times. The band got serious after narrowly losing a battle of the bands in Rockville next to Mr. Sausage and Ice Cream. Trans Am was once promoted by a Swiss Vietnamese guy named Sam Tran.
Finally, and I don’t normally ask this, but what’s your favourite colour and what do the colours Red and Black mean to you?
None. Man Machine.