I first saw these guys open for Rock ‘N’ Roll titans Guitar Wolf in the fall of 2012. I had never heard of them prior, but after listening to some of their songs, I was looking forward to seeing them just as much as the headliners, and they did not disappoint. Three young guys from New Zealand that play punk rock music that sounds considerably better the higher the volume gets. Its fast, extremely catchy and they seem to be having the time of their lives doing it, which in turn makes anyone listening to it have a blast as well. What more can anyone ask of a stellar punk band? It’s a little Ramones, a little Angry Samoans, a little Buzzcocks, and a whole lot of fun!
Interview by Jay Castro
Who’s answering the questions here?
Who is in the band and what instruments do you play?
Olly plays drums and sings, Colin plays bass and sings a little bit and I play guitar and sing.
What parts of New Zealand are you all from?
We originally hail from Rangiora which is a small town in North Canterbury on the East Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. We all live in Christchurch which is about half an hour away from Rangiora and is a big small town.
How did the band come together?
We all met on the first day of school at Rangiora High and we were in the same class. We started playing music a few years after that as a means of getting out of class and escaping small town tedium.
What music did you have in mind when starting out the band?
When we first started jamming in Olly's garage we thought we were playing sixties influenced pop music, The Kinks and The Beatles were some of our earliest influences but it turned out that the music we were playing was pretty rough sounding (due to our overwhelming lack of musical prowess), we got into punk and other weirder sounding bands pretty quickly and went from there.
What non-musical influences inspire you?
Lots of things really, people we know, relationships, getting older, crummy jobs. All the classics...
I know very little concerning New Zealand’s current cultural affairs I’m afraid. I know Flight of the Concords, and The Cramps concert video Rockin’ and Reelin’ in Auckland New Zealand. Is there a lot going on there musically you wish more people knew about?
We actually know two guys who were at that Cramps show! They said it was amazing. FOTC and Lord Of The Rings were the two things that were probably brought up the most about New Zealand while we were in the states and we were kind of expecting that but interestingly a lot of people would come up and ask us about Flying Nun bands, so that was pretty cool. When we played in Portland the singer of Mean Jeans hugged me when I told him I knew Alec Bathgate, because he was such a big Tall Dwarfs fan haha. There are a lot of sweet bands around at the moment that everyone should check out, some Christchurch bands off the top of my head would be: Salad Boys, Teen Fortress, Zen Mantra, X-Ray Charles, Ipswich. Up north there's Street Chant, The Situations, Rackets, Shaft, Beach Pigs, No Aloha, God Bows To Math...I know I'm forgetting a bunch, sorry guys...
I saw The Transistors when you opened up for the infamous Guitar Wolf last year. How did you guys land that prime position?
We were really lucky to be asked by The Wolf. We had already supported them on their NZ tour in December 2011 and Seiji liked us and was nice enough to offer us the spot on the US tour. He said we should go to Japan but that we "must harden liver first".
Was this your first time in the U.S.? If so, what did you think? Where was your favorite place you played?
I had been briefly when I was a kid but it was Olly and Col's first trip over. We loved it and had the best time. It was just the three of us with all our gear in a hired car and nothing but the incessant chatter of our faithful GPS guide, Tom, to steer us in the right direction. We played 27 shows in about 30 days and travelled 12,000 miles across 33 states. There were hardly any bad shows that I can remember but some highlights for me were Minneapolis, New York, Memphis and Philly. One of the best shows was definitely the Portland show and I'm not just saying that. We had a wicked time in Portland and we stayed with our friend Ruban and his awesome family, so that was really cool.
How do American audiences compare to the fans back in New Zealand?
On the whole the audiences were pretty responsive which was awesome, plus we sold a heap of 7"’s. It was cool playing in a place where nobody had ever heard of us or knew what to expect. Having said that, a guy in Bellingham asked why we didn't play Caving In, which is a song from our first record! That was crazy.
I recently read that out of all different art forms, music has the power to alter a person’s disposition the fastest. Do you agree with this? Do you have any favorite music that you can put on that will always lift you up from a slump?
Yeah I'd definitely agree with that. Often with certain songs or albums that I put on, I'll be instantly taken back to the time that I first heard them or a period of my life when I listened to them a lot. There are definitely certain records and bands that always make me feel good when I put them on, Wild Honey by The Beach Boys, the first Modern Lovers album, Let It Be by The Replacements are a few that come to mind. I always find the first two Big Star records really inviting, like a warm blanket. The third album not so much haha, I like that for very different reasons, if I'm in a slump and I put that album on I feel myself slumping down further.
Do you think Rock ‘N’ Roll can still be a vital and influential force for kids in this disposable age we live in now?
I think so for sure, I think loud raucous music will always have its place. If you look at any era of music there has always been a huge amount of disposable crap out there but bands have always been there doing their thing as well. I guess nowadays there's just an even bigger amount of disposable crap around.
It sounds very cynical but I feel like the overwhelming majority of kids these days are probably spending all their time on the internet liking their friend's "selfy" photos on Facebook rather than doing anything worthwhile but I'd like to think there are still heaps out there who are using the internet to discover exciting bands and just generally expand their minds. There's a vast wealth of information at everyone's disposal and this is how things will be from now on so I suppose it just comes down to how you choose to use it all.
50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water free, now people pay for water and get their music free. How do you think this affects the music industry?
Like I said, there are definite pros and cons with the internet as a means of getting your music out there and it really depends on what you see as being important. The internet has completely changed the way the music industry works now and it'll probably slowly start to kill off the major labels and their whole model for doing things because like anything in evolution, if you don't adapt you die out and so far they seem to have just fought it as much as possible, it must have hurt them already. Smaller labels seem to have a much more sustainable approach and I think bands now more than ever can be their own gods and do everything for themselves. The perceived downside of everything being available online is that nobody's paying for music when they can just get it for free. As a band, we've never really made any money anyway so that doesn't bother me. If someone on the other side of the world can find out about our band and hear and download our music for free then I think that's awesome, I don't think being able to get music for free is necessarily devaluing it. I like how sites like Bandcamp allow you people to 'pay what you want'.
Where can people hear the almighty Transistors or purchase your music or merch?
All our music is available for download at our Bandcamp which is transistors.bandcamp.com
If you're a purist and you want Vinyl or CD’s off us you're best to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can send stuff out.
There are also a bunch of videos and live clips of us on YouTube, some good, some not so good - so beware!
What’s next for the band?Our second record Is This Anything? is finally due for release soon on Arch Hill Records here in NZ and we're getting underway with demos for our next album too. Hopefully we'll be able to make it back to the states in the near future!