Mystery Girl Presents - Trans Am Press
Trans Am Press Release
Mystery Girl Presents, 95bfm and
Cheese on Toast are very pleased to announce the return to
Auckland and Wellington of the incredible ‘almost
Perhaps to say ‘almost local’ is stretching it a little, but we say that because one third of the band (Nathan Means) spent several years living in Auckland. We also say it because their most recent album, Sex Change (which has been hailed as one of their best), was partially recorded here – with the help of friends such as Chris Knox and Roy Martyn. Over the years Trans Am have played some very memorable live shows around the country, so in the usual one-eyed parochial manner, we like to adopt anyone doing something really good as our own – even if Nathan does now live in Portland, Oregon!
Since the completion of Sex Change in Auckland, New York and San Francisco, and the positive response to the album, things have really gotten going again for Trans Am. The band has been reinvigorated by appearances at a number of festivals including All Tomorrow’s Parties, their US label Thrill Jockey’s 15th anniversary shows in London and Chicago, and most surprisingly, the selection by none other than a very choosey TOOL for an extensive North American tour. This tour exposed Trans Am to a whole new audience, most of whom got their first chance to dig the unique sound of a band considered by many as “post-post-post-rock” pioneers.
Perhaps the band’s geographical liberation was the inspiration for the creation of Sex Change, their most international and exhilarating album to date. Whatever the reason may be, Sex Change is a welcome and forceful return by a band that has been a consistent innovator and touring machine for over a decade.
Continuing on this roll Trans Am are now heading down our way, on to Australia, back to the US then on an extended tour through Europe
Auckland– Friday 1st February 2008– The Kings
Tickets on sale now from Real Groovy and Fast & Loose
…and presented in Wellington by Palomino and The
Wellington - Saturday 2nd Feb San Fran Bathhouse
Presales at Slow Boat Records
Biography from the Thrill Jockey Website
After Trans Am’s last album, Liberation – a bleak portrayal of life in a security-obsessed imperial capital – the band exploded and abandoned Washington, D.C. for three different continents.
The following period of programmed isolation found Nathan Means in Auckland, Phil Manley in San Francisco and Sebastian Thomson splitting time between London and New York. Internal contact was primarily electronic but for a handful of live shows.
With two years’ of separation fueling them, the band began in June 2006 on a program of sporadic rendezvous, reconvening briefly on several continents to work on what would become the most joyous and upbeat rock album of Trans Am’s chronicle.
In June of 2006, Trans Am reunited at MAINZ, a recording school in Auckland, New Zealand, with a few songs and almost no musical equipment. Recording moved forward with a wide range of borrowed instruments, keyboards and other gear, including a 1960’s Mellotron and remarkable vintage amps loaned by iconic New Zealand musician Chris Knox (Tall Dwarfs).
The MAINZ session was recorded by a Roy Martyn at the school and a student receiving credit towards graduation. The arrangement was threatened when school administration discovered photos of the band drinking beer in the on-campus studio. Future drinking occurred off campus.
The Other Hemisphere
Two months later, recording continued in Brooklyn, New York at the Okropolis: headquarters of New York band Oneida. Determined to make a break with the past, Trans Am again arrived again with almost none of their signature gear: none of the vocoders, keyboards, drums, drum machines and amps that they used on previous albums.
Two weeks later the album was mixed at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco. Compared with previous records such as TA and Liberation, which took months to complete, Sex Change was conceived, written, recorded and mixed in only three weeks.
Although Sex Change marks a break from their past, Trans Am have always embraced unnatural and perverse recording techniques and concepts.
In such a crush of time, Trans Am had to rely on traditional time and possibility expanding substances: coffee, yerba mate, et cetera, as well as a codified series of recording techniques called “Obscene Strategies”.
Brian Eno is well known for his “Oblique Strategies” in which studio engineers - faced with an apparent roadblock - draw a card from a deck. The card might suggest, “Take something perfect and make it more human”, with the intention of animating the track through an infusion of randomness.
Over many years, Trans Am developed their own Obscene Strategies to provide a less humanist and more time-sensitive set of guidelines for loosening creative blockages. Sample suggestions include:
#11 Take a nap
#16 Make it sound like Jackson Browne
#18 Rip off black musicians
#19 Invite all your friends over
#20 Check your email
#23 Leave the studio unlocked overnight
#31 Hose down the control room
#43 Pillow fight!
Biography From the Trans Am website
Trans Am began as a side project. The members, who met while playing in the legendary harDCore/ska collective Bomblast, discovered they had a similar taste for music. They began jamming together.
One very hot summer in the mid-1990's the band found themselves in Chapel Hill playing music with Casio keyboards, loud guitars, drums and no vocals. They played oddly structured original songs and covers of David Bowie and Stravinsky. It seemed to work.
Somewhat mistakenly, Trans Am was heard by a Chicago-based vibraphone player named John McEntire. The band agreed to record some songs with McEntire which, when combined with a bunch of home recordings and other sound experiments, made up the band's first release on Thrill Jockey Records.
Then the band went through a series of reactionary moves - they began recording themselves so as not be associated as strongly with McEntire's sound, they used vocals to not be associated with the instrumental post rock they had pioneered, they used vocoders to not be associated with humans, they began burning things on stage, released a seven inch not on Thrill Jockey, got folky, then ugly, then poppy, then psychedelic, then political, then exploded and stopped being a band at all.
Look for Trans Am's new album, "Sex Change", in stores February 20, 2008 on both CDs and a limited pressing of 1000 LPs.