Interview With Trank
By Keith Clement
Greetings from Metalheads Forever, I’m Keith the Editor In Chief of the magazine, How you guys doing?
Ferench. You ? (Naah – we’re good, thank you. Working hard on completing the first album. Blame the bad joke on the caffeine.)
Please tell us about Trank, how it was formed?
By accident J.
We all had experiences in amateur, pro or semi pro bands but we had made other life choices than to start a band professionally in our twenties. We were all businessmen in some way, shape or form before we started to play together. Then came a time (midlife crisis, anyone ?) when each of us on our respective sides felt the need to become much more serious and put our experience at work in the context of a “real” band – because the desire hadn’t faded, the years of dabbling into music had ended up honing our skills, and we were still hungry and angry enough that giving a shape to all that made sense. In fact, hungrier and angrier than ever J.
I had been friends with Johann, our drummer, for almost 10 years – from working in the same huge multinational corporation. Then in 2015 I met Julien because I was in a cover band that didn’t seem willing or able to go to the next level and I just browed through the ads. There was this guy, stuck in a dead end, playing the most incredibly flamboyant, melodic guitar I’d heard this side of Matt Bellamy, and not even aware of the quality of what he was composing. After a few months I called Johann and said “look, finally, there’s a project we can work on together. We went through a couple of bass players before David fell from the sky – and when he joined, something clicked, and we upgraded from being a bunch of mates playing music every week – to a band, with a personality, a unity and a sound. There’s that gang feel now when we’re together – once you’ve found that, you really can’t live without it.
You have planned to release your debut “The Ropes” by end of 2019, where you guys are at it now, and tell us about the songwriting?
How long have you got ?
About the album – we’re done recording all the parts for the songs, and we’re just about to start mixing it… Which, considering the fact that there’s a lot of layers to the songs to achieve the sort of rich, epic feel we want, we KNOW is going to be a MASSIVE PAIN J. But we’re approaching it with the same sort of energy and enthusiasm as we do the songwriting and arrangement, and we’re really impatient to hear our vision for the songs come to life, so we’re looking forward to all the pain. Does that make us a big bunch of masochists ?
About songwriting – it’s a pretty organic and iterative process which involves the four of us, which is why we sign them with our four names, even though the core idea always comes from one of us.
Usually Julien (guitars) will come up with an already structured guitar demo, which will typically have a main riff and a couple of variations in it, and a fairly clear direction in terms of the guitar sound; or David (bass) will come up with either a bass or guitar riff with a few variations, for us to start experimenting with. I’ll take that and chop it up in the computer until we have a structure that makes sense – then we’ll put that in the practice room and flesh it up, until we have a drums / bass / guitar backbone and interplay that works. After that, everyone records their parts at home – we usually start from Johann’s drums because they really guide the dynamics of the entire thing, then bass and guitars; and I’ll create a computer demo with those tracks, then add the synths and electronics – I usually have an idea of what the machines can do to help lift the song up to the next level from the very beginning, but I wait until the foundation is there before I build them in. Once we have fully fledged instrumental demo, we’ll put it in the practice room again to iron out the kinks, eventually re-record the demo parts, and only once the instrumental is beaten into submission – I’ll put a lyric and a vocal on top of it. Through all that, we’re very mindful of serving the original, core musical idea of the song – and that applies to the lyrics, too. I have a little black notebook where I keep storing ideas and phrases for lyrics – once a demo is good enough I’ll browse through that until I find the phrase that magically fits the idea and visual atmosphere of the song, and I’ll build the lyric and vocal around that, so the whole song remains a self-contained, cohesive trip. And then occasionally, I’ll come up with the song idea myself – lyric, vocal, chord progression and main melody or riff : I’ll create a basic demo of it, then put it in the practice room and the rest of the process is the same. As for the inspiration behind the lyrics, well. That would take another interview. But in short, they’re observations about the world and the complexities of life – often seen from the point of view of less-than-recommendable characters, to give it more of the intensity we’re looking for.
How long you have been on the stage performing, what are some of the best things that happened over the years?
Not that long as TRANK – literally a little a couple of years, but we all had pretty extensive stage experience from the semi pro bands we were in before… And then we’ve had accelerated training in the last few months because we’ve been chosen as an opening act by a few giants – for arena gigs. In the summer of 2018 we played a small private warm up gig to about 100 people, which was great – then the next week-end we opened for Deep Purple in Riga for a packed full arena with 16,000 people in it… Deep Purple were a class act, too – they actually put out a press release the day before to encourage people to show up early enough to catch us ! It worked, too. Then it was Anthrax, Papa Roach, Disturbed… Names that meant a lot to us. Every time we went down a storm – the staff at the venue we played with Papa Roach came to us and said “you guys probably don’t realize, but you’re not getting “opening act” reception, you’re getting “headliner” reception. We’ve played Eastern Europe a lot and, man, these audiences have been fantastic for us. Don’t let anyone tell you that passion for rock or metal has died.
In this current situation there are lots of bands that are on the scene, how you are planning to make Trank a global name?
We don’t have a fucking clue. If you do, advice welcome. Long as you don’t charge. In the meantime, we’re doing the only couple of things that seem to make sense to us. We make the best music we can make, we present it the best we can be it in the studio, on stage or in our videos (the next one will be a step change because we’ve given our director, Alban, proper time and budget for a change), and we get help and advice from a management company who seem to know what they’re talking about, and who like and understand our music.
Tell us about your experience in signing with Alpha Omega Management, and how that has changed the face of Trank?
Well – Alex attended our gig at the Kyiv Atlas Festival this year : one of his bands was playing before us (they were really good, in case you’re wondering). We bumped into him backstage and started to chat, he loved the gig, told us he’d been following our development for a while, and the conversation snowballed into a decision to work together – and see how far we can take the project together. Alex and his team have a no-nonsense, music-first approach to the whole deal, an attention to giving the audience your best, which we totally relate to; so that was a fast discussion.
Any message you would like to send out through our magazine?
There’s much more good music out there than you’d know. But there’s never enough – so make the music you want to hear. With a little luck, other people will want to hear it too, and you respect those people and make a point of giving them the sort of moments they’ll never forget, they’ll give YOU that sort of moments too. (I know, that was cheesy, right ? And we mean it, too.)
MHF Magazine/Keith Clement