Filed under: Emerging Artists, Interviews, XCLUS!VES | Tags: glam-rock, Interviews, Jay-Z, Lady GaGa, Semi Precious Weapons, Sex Pistols, Warhol
Each Monday, 20 Watts is poised to feature a new, exclusive artist interview! Here we present our WORDS OF THE WEEK!
PREVIEW: Semi Precious Weapons’ MySpace
LISTEN TO HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE INTERVIEW:
Led by filthy rock n’ roll purist Justin Tranter, Semi Precious Weapons, are the gritty opener act touring with Lady Gaga on her Monster Ball Tour, but don’t be fooled–these guys are quite the showmen themselves. They keep it simple: they want to party, and they want you to have fun, and they do it in high heels. They started out like your average rock band, but the road they took to get to where they are now is anything but average. Keep a look out for their debut LP You Love You at the end of March.
20 Watts: Describe your band’s overall attitude and style.
Justin Trantor: The overall attitude is to make balls-to-the-wall rock n’ roll that kicks ass, and is really fun. We want people to have fun, to party, we want people to get laid. I think that’s what the whole point of rock n’ roll should be, and another important part is danger, excitement, and kids’ parents should be mad at them for listening to us–all of those good things. Obviously we also get the glam label thrown at us, and I think that’s just because I wear high heels, but there’s definitely a lot of worse things to be called than glam.
20W: Some people say you’re like the glam version of The Sex Pistols. Ever heard that before?
JT: I think my favorite quote was that we’re like The Sex Pistols if they came out of the Warhol scene. I think that’s our favorite description of our band ever.
20W: Maybe it’s me, but I haven’t heard that many glam-inspired acts in a long time. Is this a re-awakening of glam-rock?
JT: We’re not trying to make it a glam-rock revival at all. I’ve always dressed crazy. I haven’t always looked like this. I haven’t always looked this fantastic. Fashion was always very important to me. I think that’s where the glam comes from. We’re not trying to make a glam-rock revival, we’re just trying to look fucking awesome, and have a blast. Rock n’ roll has looked so boring for the last 10 years, it has sounded so boring that people want something to call it, and glam is just the easiest thing to call it because we like to look cool.
20W: Your energy on stage is out of this world. Where do you get your inspiration?
JT: We all have a great time performing, and we feel there is no real reason to put on a live show if you aren’t going to enjoy it yourself. The audience isn’t going to have fucking fun, if you aren’t having fun. Some of my favorite performers are Courtney Love, Lil’ Kim, Jay-Z, AC/DC, Axel Rose. All of those people perform their asses off, and that’s what inspires me the most.
20W: How has the tour been so far? What’s been your favorite part?
JT: The tour has been fucking amazing. We’ve been a band traveling in a van for the past three years, selling our own merch, booking our own shows, and in the last couple months we signed a major label deal, we have an amazing manager, and then Lady Gaga asked us to come on tour with her. We went from playing for 200 people in a bar to playing for 12,000 people in a fucking arena in Montreal. It’s been really surreal. It’s hard to say what our favorite part has been–the whole thing has been our favorite part. Just the fact that Gaga wanted a rock band to play with her, being the biggest pop-star in the world, I think is really fucking cool. I feel like a lot of people in the world don’t even know what an amp is, let alone what a rock band is.
20W: Lady Gaga is the biggest pop star in the world right now. What is it like touring with her?
JT: We’ve known Gaga since 2006, and her first shows as Lady Gaga were opening for us. Touring with her is mind-blowing since we get to play Radio City Music Hall four nights in a row, but on the other hand it’s just playing more shows with Lady Gaga like it’s fucking 2006. It’s a really weird, amazing dichotomy of playing the biggest tour in the world and playing with our friend.
20W: It’s such a huge tour. It’s got to be a little hectic, right?
JT: It’s not stressful at all, compared to driving ourselves around in a van and playing bars is a lot more than doing this. Everything is so organized, there’s a stage manager, there’s a monitor guy, a front of house guy, and there’s all these different people to make it run more easily.
20W: Your image and sound is so unique. What’s the most common response when people see and hear you for the first time?
JT: I think the most common reaction is “what the fuck?” You either love us or hate us, they say what the fuck? because it’s something they’ve never seen before.
20W: Is it true you originally funded the band by selling jewelry?
JT: I first started selling jewelry to set up the first couple band shows, because we didn’t have a record, t-shirts, we didn’t have anything, but I always had worked at jewelry stores as a day job. People responded really fucking well at the shows, so then I started selling them at boutiques around New York City. We made our first record with jewelry money, and it also covered all the times we flew out to Los Angeles to play shows. Barney’s bought the line. We did a lot of things indie bands can’t do, because of jewelry.
20W: What do you want your debut LP to convey?
JT: It sounds like real rock n roll, you can hear the real fucking instruments. It’s as intense and as raw as our live show, but polished enough so we can play in between Lady Gaga and Jay-Z. It’s still filthy, it’s still edgy, and still says things you’re not supposed to say.
–Interview by Jett Wells