Trank Interview 22/01/2021
MM: Can you tell us about your Band and who’s your biggest influences?
That appears to be a simple question – but the music of TRANK actually brings together pretty diverse influences, simply because the four of us have very different tastes from one another. We’re all very eclectic too, so there are a lot of bands and artists we all love, but we have different “centers of gravity” that make for a pretty unique combination.
We’ve sort of boiled it down to defining TRANK as the bastard child of Alter Bridge and Depeche Mode, with Muse and Porcupine Tree as midwives. It’s melodic, epic, high-emotion alternative rock – with flamboyance and energy inspired metal (in fact, the people who love metal call us a metal band; those who don’t – don’t), a sense of darkness and atmosphere inspired by the whole electronic post-punk wave, and the sort of attention to production detail and layering you find in more progressive bands – so that even though the songs can hopefully grab you from the first listen, you’ll find new surprises here and there every time you come back.
MM: Where do you draw your inspirations and ideas from?
Musically – in the differences between us, which somehow instinctively gel into a cohesive whole whenever we’re together. Lyrically – in the huge gap between how life is and how it should be.
MM: What would you say is your Band's favorite song?
You’d get a very different answer to that one depending on which band member you’d ask. For David (bass), it would probably be something by Chris Cornell, whether with Soundgarden or not. For Julien (guitars), something from the first 3 or 4 Muse albums. For Johann it’s harder to guess because he’s got the most eclectic taste profile in the band, alongside myself. I know one of the bands that clinched it for him as a teenager and still inspires him today would be Toto – so maybe Africa? For me, it’s “Never Met Me Down Again” by Depeche Mode. It has all those contrasts in it which define the band – and in fact, inspire a lot of the s-things that we strive for in our own music: it’s powerful and driven, but emotional; it’s dark, but it’s flamboyant; it’s instantly accessible, but also just the right level of weird and experimental in its own way. It’s widescreen yet very intimate. So powerful, so gut-wrenching, so iconic. Plus, it samples Led Zeppelin (the drum track was constructed from a loop of the “When the levee breaks” intro). What’s not to like?
MM: Plans tour and festival wise for 2022?
We wish. Let’s see how the year turns out.
MM: What can we expect from TRANK live?
Do you mean when you DO get to see us? Moments of pretty intense, positive connection. We’ve opened for all those huge acts when we were honing our sound – because we were crazy enough to approach them with the first three singles from our first album, saying “we’d sound great in arenas like the ones you guys played.” We ended up opening for Deep Purple, Anthrax, Disturbed, Papa Roach – and every time the reception was unbelievable; “headliner level” as the guys from the venues we played put it. The songs may have that level of intensity, but it’s not intensity that pushes you away – it brings you in for a bit of catharsis. Mostly I think we love playing live and people can sense it – and that makes it contagious. Also, we insist on crafting sets, no matter how long, that will take them on a self-contained trip, with enough light and shade you never get bored. So many bands just play pedal to the metal for however long the set or the album lasts. So many albums or concerts feel like the same song, played 10 or 15 times. A trip is only a good one if every stop in it is worth it.
MM: What do you like best and worst about touring?
Right now, we’re so frustrated about not playing live – the worst is the fact it isn’t happening. The best is the connection with the audience. We have that song – “Bend or Break”. Like many of our songs it’s written on a very personal level: about someone asking their lover to push them beyond their limits – but the person asking has been through so much, their limits are nowhere in sight. And so the chorus goes “You will not bend, you will not break – and you love to see me try, but I don’t know what it takes.” We played that in Eastern Europe, in places like Latvia or Ukraine, where people have been - and are still going – through so much: they started screaming the chorus along with us because they took it on another level, they took it as a story about themselves. I ended up laughing and crying at the same time while we were playing it. That connection was so beautiful.
MM: Which three Bands would be your ultimate touring buddies?
I’ll give you four, one for each of us. Depeche Mode, Alter Bridge, Muse, Porcupine Tree should they reform. But I’ll also say, the guys we opened for were incredible. Deep Purple and Papa Roach especially were princes.
MM: What's the most memorable concert you've been to (other than your own) and why?
I saw Regina Spektor open for Ben Harper; hated the Ben Harper gig, but she was unforgettable: the day before the concert, one of her touring band members and closest friends died, so she took the stage crying and explained, and played this magnificently intense set that felt like a tribute to the guy. Then midway through what should have been the one before the last song, she broke down and left, the band finished the song without her, and she – and they – got one of the most incredible final rounds of applause I’ve ever heard. It was in equal parts beautiful and sort of traumatic. I mean her music is so emotional in normal circumstances already – but to be a witness to that moment felt incredibly moving.
MM: What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment so far with TRANK?
We’re very, very proud of our first album, “THE ROPES”. It’s just come out in that deluxe “Monolith” edition because the first self-funded release got fantastic reviews and got us picked up by a distributor who wanted to launch it more professionally. We’ve worked VERY hard with VERY talented people (Yvan our co-producer and rec engineer; Brian Robbins for the mix in NYC, who’s done Asking Alexandria and Bring me the Horizon; Andy Van Dette for the mastering, also in NYC) to really make it a statement of what TRANK is about, musically and lyrically – and even visually. And the fact that it’s getting so much attention is incredibly rewarding to us.
MM: Which are your Two favourite Albums of all time?
I’m going to sound like a broken record (an expression that says a lot about my age) – but not two of us would give you the same answer to that one. What we would all agree on is that boiling it down to TWO is IMPOSSIBLE, mate. For today, I’ll go with Nine Inch Nails and “The Downward Spiral,” and (deliberately trying to avoid quoting Depeche Mode one more time, otherwise it’d be “Violator…”) I’d say the Beatles, “Abbey Road.”
MM: Can you remember the first time you ever played live and how it felt to have people watching you?
Yes, and yes. Because it feels like that every time.
MM: Growing up which Bands posters did you have on your bedroom wall?
Dita von Teese and Monica Bellucci. Oops, sorry. Not a band, and not as a teenager. For me, Depeche Mode and Queen. And Propaganda.
MM - Who do you think influenced the world of Metal / Rock more than any other person?
I don’t think anyone can claim to have single-handedly influenced everyone that way. If I did have to choose, though – probably Jimmy Page. Even before Zeppelin, the guy had basically played on EVERY great record of the 60’s blues boom.
MM - What's the most important thing to the band right now?
Getting back to a FUCKING STAGE. And while we wait for that to happen, composing the second album. There’s no shortage of ideas with us.
MM - If you could do a cover of any song which one would it be and why?
We’ve covered a few. The one that I think moves us the most is “Hey You,” from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” We did that during the first lockdown because we were so frustrated with not being with each other making music, and there’s no better song about the need to connect or communicate. I fucking hate Roger Waters but I’m a huge Floyd fan and so are David and Johann. We only ever posted the cover on our Facebook page but everyone tells us about it. We’ll probably end up sticking it on YouTube one of these days. It’s such a daunting exercise, covering one of your favorite songs – you need to treat it with love, but no respect; otherwise you end up doing a pastiche or a carbon copy, and that’s never going to feel good. What’s interesting is to take the idea of the song and then give a different spin to how you bring it to life. We gave “Hey You” a filmic spin – with a slightly claustrophobic, minimally high-tech feel in the beginning, and then it builds up gradually to this hugely climatic last verse with a very dramatic, movie-soundtrack like the finale. We like to think of each song as a film for your ears – and that one song gave us the perfect script.