Transistors: Serious fun and games

By Scott Kara

Transistors amp up their act and get ready to party, reports Scott Kara

Christchurch band the Transistors.
Christchurch band the Transistors.

James Harding, of Christchurch power pop punk trio the Transistors, is explaining why it's taken an age for them to get their second album out. It was recorded sporadically in Auckland with veteran producer and engineer Bob Frisbee over the course of many short, sharp sessions - a description that sums up their songs too - when the band ventured north to play shows.

"We were sort of disorganised, so it was just a long process," says Harding cheerily. "And then other stuff happened. Earthquakes happened."

He pauses, and then breaks into laughter. "I'm not sort of like blaming the earthquakes for taking three years to get our album out, but it's just been a process," he says with another hoot.

Their 2009 debut album, Shortwave, was a rough-and-ready album released on leery green vinyl, which the band described as "11 songs, 21 minutes, 12 inches, 45 rpm".

Is This Anything still has rough and ready moments, but it's more polished while still harnessing that all-important fun the Transistors' live shows are about.

This comes through on the rampant opener, Method Actor, which has hints of Husker Du's Ice Cold Ice, and the swerving and careering silliness of the Transistors' Knee Jerk Jerk.

"The natural progression is that we are just playing better. I think this album is a little bit more streamlined than stuff we've done in the past. So we're pretty amped about it, they're tighter, better songs.

"The first record was pretty funny, it sounded like a record played by three guys who didn't know what they were doing in the studio," jokes Harding, who's not keen on the term punk to describe their music saying they just write "loud energetic pop music".

He says the band, which includes bass player/singer Colin Roxburgh and drummer/singer Olly Crawford-Ellis - are more organised and focused these days, especially now that they have a record label (Arch Hill) and their album is out tomorrow. It coincides with a show at Auckland's Kings Arms, the first of a string of gigs throughout August.

However, although they sing about "not just being nice guys anymore and thinking about your merchandise" on Professional, off the album, Harding's quick to point out that the song is not about them, but a tongue-in-cheek poke at bands who place importance on the wrong things.

"The ones who are all focused on making sure they've got their merch table sorted, and outfits sorted, rather than focusing on writing good songs and actually having fun.

"That's the thing about us, we've always said the minute we stop having fun it's time to take a look at things. In a way we have got more serious, but the bottom line is that we want to be writing fun songs and playing fun shows because there's nothing worse than going to a show and seeing a band who doesn't want to be there. It's important to turn it into a party if you can."

Who: Transistors
What: Christchurch power-pop punk band
New album: Is This Anything, out Friday August 2
Live: The Kings Arms, Auckland, Friday August 2 Mighty Mighty, Wellington, Saturday, August 3

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- NZ Herald

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