Live Wires

It’s shaping up to be an exciting year for Christchurch three-piece The Transistors. On Monday they will take the stage to play one of the noisiest sets of the day at Auckland’s Laneway Festival – then in March they’re heading to the USA to tour with Japanese punk band Guitar Wolf.

(EMJ) Are you all still living in Christchurch?
(James Harding) Yep, we’re sticking it out down here, haha.

What’s the state of the music scene down in Christchurch, given that the earthquakes destroyed venues like Goodbye Blue Monday and The Dux and caused loads of people to leave town?
It’s definitely a bit thin at the moment. Things are picking up, but it’s slow. The Darkroom is having gigs every week and the New Dux is underway, which is great. I don’t think that many bands have bailed – things are slowly picking up, I think.

Are there many opportunities for bands in Christchurch or do you think it’s better to head north?
We’re still here, so I guess I can’t really say. For us personally it would be helpful to be in Auckland, as it’s where we record and play a lot of shows, but we also have lives down here. I get the feeling that certain bands move to Auckland because they think it’ll instantly get them more exposure or something, but I’m not sure if it makes a difference.

You’ve released an album and an EP. Tell me about your growth as a band – how have you evolved?
We’re writing better songs these days. People have been saying that the new songs are pretty catchy, which is nice to hear.

How close are you all outside of the band? Are you all best friends or do you more come together to make music?
We formed the band a few years after we became friends, so in a way we’re friends first and a band second, but since we practice twice a week, play shows and record together that’s when we do most of our hanging out.

Do you feel like there’s much of a sense of community in New Zealand for punk music such as yours? Or do you feel like you’re going about it largely by yourselves?
I think there’s definitely a sense of community in New Zealand music, I’m not so sure about punk music specifically.

Your style sounds very much rooted in the original street punk sound. What motivates you to make this kind of music/write these kind of songs?
We listen to punk music but we listen to heaps and heaps of other stuff and I think the other stuff has just as big an influence on us. Olly loves Minor Threat but one of his favourite artists is Bruce Springsteen, so I’d say we’re influenced by good bands and good songs more than any one genre. We’re just trying to make fun, energetic music and write awesome songs. That’s our motivation.

“We’ve actually just been asked to do a tour in the states with Guitar Wolf”

You’re releasing your new album Is This Anything? shortly. What can fans expect from the new record and how is it different from Shortwave and Flux Pentaphile?
I suppose it’s a pretty natural progression from what we’ve done in the past. I think the songs are better and possibly a bit faster.

How much does the music you make as a band reflect the music you listen to in your everyday lives?
I guess it doesn’t, really. We mostly listen to musicals – Hair, Oklahoma, stuff like that.

Live, you’ve played some pretty exciting shows. Tell me about touring with JEFF the Brotherhood and what you learnt from them in regards to DIY touring?
That was a really fun tour, one of our favourites. Jake and Jamin are awesome, really down-to-earth guys and their shows were fucking insane. To be honest, in terms of approach it wasn’t that different to any of the other tours we’ve been on. The only time we’re ever put up in hotels is when we play ‘industry’ shows; otherwise we stay with friends and generally keep it pretty bare bones.

Do you have any ambitious plans for 2012? Will you be heading abroad or staying in New Zealand?
We’ve actually just been asked to do a tour in the states with Guitar Wolf, which is going to be insane, we’re really excited about it. That’s at the end of March. Beyond that, who knows.

You’re playing the Laneway Festival next week and you’re possibly the noisiest band on the line-up. What are you looking forward to most about Laneway and who are you most excited to see play?
It’ll be cool to play to people who won’t have heard of us. I’m looking forward to seeing Opossom and Sherpa. I’ll check out Girls and Yuck and The Horrors, I don’t really know much about a lot of the bands but I listened to Washed Out and thought they had the most apt band name ever.

The Transistors play Laneway this Monday at 1.45pm on the Park Lane Stage

Posted by Nick Fulton under Christchurch, New Zealand
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