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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Well the four of us have been lifelong music fans since our teens. We all have different stories but they all boil down to the classic one of how music was a way to survive difficult teenage years. Also we were all passionate listeners before we started to play anything, and so we treat the fact that we’re in a position to make our own music today as a privilege. That said, like many other musicians today, we have “real” jobs – there’s just no way music can feed your family these days if you’re starting out. If we weren’t making music? We’d be taking pills, I think.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Again that would be different for each of the four of us. But we do find inspiration for our music in people and things we love, and in people and things we hate. Rock in general is a story of passion and frustration in equal parts, so you’ve got to have both. We all have families, so your view of the world is a little different from what it might have been as a teenager, but reasons to be angry at the world still abound. Most of us are passionate about films as well, and two of us are also compulsive readers, so a lot of inspiration also comes from that; we like the idea of creating cinematic moments with our songs.
How long has your band been around?
In its current, definitive form, since the end of 2016. We did start with a different bass player the year before and he was very good, but things really fell into place when David joined. All four of us had been in semi-pro bands, making music “on the side” before – but we decided to make TRANK a much more professional project after only a few sessions together, because it was so obvious something we really liked was happening. A blend of alt rock and 90’s metal and post-punk electronics, which sort of just happened – and became the core of what we love to do.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
In France – we all come from different corners of it but we live close to Geneva, Switzerland. Not sure it has any influence on us to be honest – although we do like recording in Studio des Forces Motrices, where Young Gods and Treponem Pal (both pioneers of the Swiss and French industrial scene) made some of their best albums, and also at Ella Studios, where our good friend Serge runs a fantastic console and a couple of vintage tape machines. We like to blend analogue and digital in our sound, and both places are good for that.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
We have 1000 different versions of that story. Which one do you want ? But bottom line the truth is we wanted something simple and stark that could be pronounced easily around the world, because we hope to tour it one day… The starkness sort of echoes the almost industrial pulse in many of the songs on our first album, “The Ropes.”
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
We’ve loved them all, but certainly the most memorable one was opening for Deep Purple back in 2018. They had spotted a couple of our singles and their management offered us the opening slot for their gig in Rigan in front of 16,000 people… Deep Purple were a total class act and they put out a press release about US the day before the gig, urging their fans to show up early enough to catch us because “if we started Deep Purple today, we’d probably sound a lot like TRANK.” Beyind the fact it was a huge compliment, it did mean that the venue was packed full when we got on stage – and the reception was incredible. It nearly was our worst too, because the stage engineer had forgotten to power up the guitar amp, so the first few seconds were a little quiet… But then, a flick of a switch and everything was as loud as it should be.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
We’re a young band, so we haven’t played that much. We’ve loved all our gigs in Eastern Europe – audiences there are open minded and crazy in all the right ways. Riga, Vilnius, Bucarest, Kyiv, Moscow – those were amazing.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
The answer to that would be different for the four of us. We have very eclectic and diverse tastes. For yours truly, sharing a bill with Depeche Mode would be it. For the others it might be Muse, or Dream Theater, or Alter Bridge.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Don’t listen to our advice. We’ll give advice when we have a career and a body of work to look back on. Or maybe just this : whatever happens you should always remember you’re in it for the love of music. Anyone else loving what you do is a plus, but you have to enjoy it yourself.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Check that the amps are on before the gig starts. See above.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
You’re asking us to choose among our children. They all mean a lot.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I don’t know about a favorite to play, but the one we always start our gigs with would be “In Troubled Times.” It pretty much defines the core of the TRANK sound – a blend of massive mid tempo beats, alt rock riffing, post-punk atmospheres and sort of shamanic vocals. It has lots of enregy but also a bit of a ceremonial quality that’s great to set a mood.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
The music is developed as a four-piece from an idea brought by either Julien (guitars), David (bass) or myself (vocals and synths). Johann (drums and percussion) and I will then structure the songs and give them their basic shape, then bring them back into the practice room for the four of us to beat them into submission. Once the music’s done, Michel takes it away and writes the vocals and lyrics to it. And of course all that sounds pretty simple and well oiled, but each song actually takes us forever until we’re happy with it. There’s a lot of rounds of structuring and arranging and polishing. We’re VERY annoying people.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
The songs are, lyrically, observations about the world at large, with a micro or a macro lens depending on whether the music calls for something more intimate or more massive. So I wouldn’t say there are messages as such beyond “think for yourselves, feel for yourselves.” There’s an intensity, a cathartic but accessible quality to the music that we hope people get into. We want to create A sense of depth and connection. Somehow we want to make them jump around and think at the same time. It’s been a long time since any band has done that for us, so we thought we might as well do it ourselves. Hopefully that sounded arrogant enough - we’re French, you know. We have a reputation to keep up with.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Did I mention we were French ? We have disagreements ALL the time about EVERYTHING. But we love it as much as anything else and we make decisions with majority votes. Yesn I know, we’re a four piece, but there’s always a majority.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
Our first album, “The Ropes”, was released during lockdown so it wasn’t as visible as we wanted it to, despite the fact that we got literally dozens of rave reviews. But it got picked up by a serius distributor and it’s getting a proper re release this November as a Deluxe edition – the 12 original album songs, plus 12 remixes we really love, some by us and our team, some by other artists and engineers we love and respect. We ‘re hoping to get traction with bookers and promoters based on that and return to the stage as soon as we can. There’ll be a new video as well, for “Shining” – the opening tracks, which we always thought should be a single but we recorded it last so a video was out of the question at the time. It’s the catchiest tune on the record and we hope people enjoy playing it as luch as we enjoyed making it. Beyond that, we feel we have a few albums in us that we can be proud of – so it’s about making them and touring them. The stage is what we live for.
Michel – for TRANK