They Can't Play for Shit, But They're Fucking Gorgeous

    In eyeliner, stilettos, pantyhose and a pungent cloud of hairspray, Semi Precious Weapons frontman Justin Tranter is about to turn Kuncocshun — Sixth College’s annual music fest — into a glam-rock apocalypse.

    The New York-based rockers are BFFs with Lady Gaga, and opened for her last tour — so yes, they’re a little insane. Who would have thought our very own Warren Field might one day ring in a charming number about getting blue-balled by the savior? “She only wants to fuck Jesus!” Tranter will cry in a fabulous rage, no doubt making Jesus Guy break into a fit of blasphemous seizures back on Library Walk.

    At least there’ll be some segway band: the much tamer Automatic Loveletter — four-chord rockers with a grrrl on the mic, like Paramore gone acoustic — and Violet Sun, who do zoned-out vocals over angst-rock instrumentation.

    Once the Weapons takes the stage, Tranter will be wailing through ’70s-punk nostrils as the rest of the band jams heavy and fast — a battle in screams between frontman and guitar.

    The Guardian: So you guys were in New York last night?

    Tratner: Yes, we played the Bowery Ballroom — which is a legendary venue in New York — last night. It was amazing; it was our first time ever playing there, and we sold it out, which was pretty fucking exciting.

    G: So the Monster Ball is doing good things.

    JT: Yes. The Monster Ball is really helping us out. We did the Monster Ball four nights at Radio City with Gaga in January, so we were able to come back on our two weeks off — between the Japan tour and the Europe tour with Gaga — to come back to America and headline some shows on our own, and we have sold them all out so far. It’s pretty exciting.

    G: No rest for the wicked.

    JT: Yeah, no rest ever; fuck that. We don’t want to rest. We want to become the most loved and hated band in the entire world before 2010 is over. Can’t really rest to accomplish that.

    G: At some point, I saw on one of the band biographies — did Lady Gaga open for you guys at one point?

    JT: Yes. …We met her through a friend of a friend, [heard] that she was a big fan of ours and we went and checked her out on good old MySpace in 2006. She was fucking amazing, and obviously we’re a rock band with our shows — really fun and really over the top — and having boring hipster bands that stare at their feet open for us didn’t really work out too well. So having this crazy girl singing pop songs, lighting shit on fire [and] holding a disco ball was definitely a much better option. And it was amazing … Here we are in 2010 playing arenas, so can’t complain.

    G: I believe I saw that all of you went to music school together — or almost all of you?

    JT: Yes, that’s our dirty little secret: that we’re actually all classically trained and educated musicians. So we met in school at Boston; we all went to Berklee College of Music in Boston. We met the first week, but we didn’t really start the band until we were done with college. We all studied every kind of music you can. Our drummer has a degree in classical composition, and I have a degree in songwriting — whatever the fuck that means. Once we finished school and had studied all this intense intellectual music, we decided that we wanted to get back to the music that inspired us as teenagers, which was filthy rock ‘n’ roll. So here we are.

    G: When you guys went back to filthy glamour rock ‘n’ roll, were you already on the way to being the stage personalities that you are, that the whole band is right now — or did that come right after music school?

    JT: My stage personality is my real-life personality; it’s just who I am. It’s been on and off since I was 15. I’ve been drinking ridiculous and looking ridiculous and all those good things, but when we all moved to New York, we were all really shocked by how boring New York was. We thought it was going to be like all of the Warhol documentaries … that I would watch as a teenager. Then I got there, and there’s a bunch of girls more concerned with drinking Cosmos than listening to rock ‘n’ roll. The boredom of New York inspired us to be even more ridiculous … kind of piss everyone off in a good way.

    G: Have you guys played universities before, or is this the first one?

    JT: This is the first one. We played at Purdue [University] with Gaga, but it was an open-to-the-public show. So this is the first time we’re doing an official college show — which we’re actually really, really excited about, because the Purdue shows that we did with Gaga were the most insane shows of the entire American tour. So I can’t wait; those kids were just fucking nuts. We actually went back there and played there twice, which was really fucking fun. And then [for] our show at Chicago on Friday, actually a lot of kids from Purdue drove six hours to come see us in Chicago. I think music and rock ‘n’ roll is such an important thing for people from the ages of 15 to 25 that to get the chance to play at a college is pretty awesome.

    G: I did see something about a guy on your Twitter feed taking the Greyhound like eight hours and then being homeless for three days?

    JT: Yes! I did see that too. It’s pretty fucking amazing. He’s a good, awesome fan of ours that has brought a lot of people to our music.

    G: I’m actually really interested to see how the crowd goes for the performance on Friday.

    JT: I can’t wait. All good things should be loved or hated. I think people are really surprised; our fanbase is a really mixed crowd. People come to the show and don’t really know who we are. People who don’t think they’re going to like us will really, really love us. A lot of dudes, — if you will, “bros” — end up loving our show after a couple songs because the guitar solos are so great, and girls take off their clothes and show me their tits. There’s fun there for everybody.

    G: [Is there] anything else that you’ve got to say that you want the students of UCSD to hear?

    JT: Well, one: We’ve actually had a great time in San Diego many times, so we’re really, really excited to be back. And two: I think everyone’s gonna love the show. I’ll pour champagne in your mouth, there are guitar solos, there are six-inch heels and our goal at every show we do is to get everyone in the room laid by the time they leave.

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