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Catch Up: The Transistors

Catch Up: The Transistors

Interviewed by
Natalie Finnigan
Monday 12th December, 2011 12:43PM

Christchurch trio The Transistors have a busy few months ahead of them.  On top of their enviable support slots such as Guitar Wolf and Dum Dum Girls only NZ show,  they play Laneway Festival at the end of January and they're about to release their second album Is This Anything?. We caught up with frontman James Harding for a quick chat upon the release of the first single from the album 'This Is Not An Exit' which you can listen to above...

So, you are about to release your second album right?

Yep it's finally coming out early next year, it's called Is This Anything?

Describe the recording process for me – was it a new experience?

Well in the past our recording sessions have been this ridiculous scenario where it's almost been an afterthought, like "you guys have two days off between shows, let's record an album" sort of thing.

We smashed out the tracks for the first record (Short Wave) in a weekend at Bob's studio and the EP was literally recorded in 20 minutes before we had to race to a show.

When it came time to record this album we thought we'd give ourselves the luxury of time! Bob flew down from Auckland for a week and we set up in a tiny cottage that Olly was living in out on his parents' farm in North Canterbury.

We set up all our equipment in the living room and Bob miked everything up and ran it all into his laptop on the kitchen table. We played around with guitar sounds and we taped three bass drums together in a line to make a drum tunnel like Nirvana used when they recorded Nevermind, just because we could!

We tracked the whole album in the evenings after work and one Saturday I think, then it was done and we made some trips up to Bob's studio to do the vocals and a couple of overdubs. There are literally three guitar overdubs and other than that it's all live.

How is it different to your last record?

I think the songwriting on this album is a bit more focused and a lot more confident.

Songwriting is still a weird mystery to us, we obviously don't have jazz school backgrounds or anything like that so melodies and stuff always just come out of nowhere and we have to do our best to rope them in and turn them into songs.

We'd been playing a tonne of shows leading up to recording so we knew the songs inside out, save for four or five that we'd never played live but had jammed heaps. We've been playing together for so long now that we're getting better at reading each other and knowing how to compliment each other's playing.

You’re opening for Guitar Wolf on their upcoming national tour, do you have any idea what to expect?

Can’t wait! We’ve never seen them live but we’ve listened to them a bit. John Baker asked us if we'd like we do it because he thought we’d be a good fit and of course we were keen. Everyone I talk to who’s seen them says they’re an insane live band. I've heard talk of human pyramids at their shows and apparently the singer sleeps with his shades on so I guess we can expect pretty much anything...

What's it been like playing in Christchurch post earthquake? Have you had venues available to you?

Well after the quakes Goodbye Blue Monday, El Santo, The Dux, Al's Bar and the Wunderbar are all gone. For those who don't know Christchurch that's basically a list of every venue in town so it was pretty grim for a while there.

Some dudes got proactive and started running gigs out of their flat and calling themselves House of Kahn, unfortunately their landlord got wind of it and put a stop to that but it was good while it lasted.

T'Nealle and Jasper have done great things with their venue/bar the Darkroom, which is an awesome wee space that now has Galaxy Records in the same building.

Other than that there's The Brewery in Woolston and The Dux is going to be reopening soon in a new space. People are making do and things can only get better from here!

What are your plans as a band? Where to next?

Our main goal at this point is getting the new album out. We've got a bunch of choice shows over the next couple of months and then we'll probably do a tour when we release the new record.


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