Having released a successful debut album back in 2010, a collection that showcased the band as one of the most adventurous and exciting glam rock outfits to emerge in recent years and touring the globe with none other than Lady Gaga on the pop superstars Monster Ball Tour as the hand-picked lead support act throughout 2011, Semi Precious Weapons are back with the follow up album, Aviation.
Comprising of 12 brand new tracks, Aviation is a record that has been 4 years in the making and introduces us to the bands much more tame but equally as impressive skills at producing radio-friendly and memorable hits.
Ahead of the release of Aviation, we spoke with lead singer Justin Tranter about the new record, their good friend Lady Gaga and what took the band 4 years to deliver a follow up to their debut. Here is what they had to tell us…
Brendon Veevers: Hi guys, how are you all doing and where in the word does our interview find you?
Justin Tranter: We just left a well known chain of liquor store, and are heading home to work on some music.
BV: You’re new album, Aviation is released this month. Firstly, can you tell us a little about the new album in terms of the sound, style and general themes within the track-listing?
JT: Our new album sounds like our last four years. We toured the entire planet, loved people, got dropped by two major labels, wrote hundreds of songs as a defense mechanism, fought to release new music, couldn’t do it, drank, had hope, and now we are on the other side. The theme and direction of the album is UP, which is our current direction.
JT: We are celebrating the release by writing songs for the next album. Also we are partying and playing at the Sayer’s Club in Hollywood for our cali family and homies.
BV: What key differences would you say there are between Aviation and your debut album?
JT: The first album is raw, loose, and punk like how we felt when starting the band in NYC. Aviation is a bit more refined, emotional, and futuristic.
BV: We notice a dramatic change in look these days – crisp, almost matching black suits appear to have trumped the 6-inch heels. Please don’t tell us the heels have been hung up for good?
JT: Our fashion went from city dump to Donald Trump. Seriously though, the new music and the aesthetic evolved naturally and in tandem.
BV: The lead single from the new record is Aviation High. Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind the single?
JT: Aviation High is about the feeling of being so into someone or something that you feel high. It can be a love song, a drug song, or both.
BV: Would you say the style of Aviation High is indicative to the rest of the new record?
JT: Absolutely. It is the first song on the album, and is meant to guide you through the upward adventure.
BV: What inspired you all the most during the writing and recording of Aviation?
JT: Touring the world playing music every night for 3 years certainly inspired us. When we landed in Los Angeles afterward, the thought of not being able to play music every night inspired us to write these songs so we can go on a 269 year tour of the cosmos.
BV: You left your former home at Interscope Records and soon after you left Epic Records for your new home at RedZone Entertainment. Why so many label changes and how are you finding your new RedZone surroundings?
JT: The short answer is that no label truly understood or believed in us until we met Tricky Stewart and he signed us to RedZone.
BV: What else have you all been up to in the time between records?
JT: We have made some awesome music outside of SPW. We produced a future trap record for the Rich White Ladies. I have been writing songs for some talented folks. Dan, Cole, and Stevy made a surf album. We threw a ton of house parties which featured the giant trampoline in our front yard.
BV: With 4 years passing since the release of your debut album, can you tell us why there has been such a lengthy period of time between your debut and Aviation? Was there anything in particular that held the record back from being released?
JT: All I will say is that we did everything we could to release new music, but the obstacles were too large. We couldn’t have put this album out one second sooner than we did, but I feel it all happened for a reason.
BV: Is there any worry that fans may have moved on or do you feel the following that you gained with your debut has stuck around?
JT: For a couple months that fear consumed us, but we had to move on. We had faith that if we made cool music, all the kids, dudes, chicks, babes, homies, queens, moms, studs, sluts, bros, and hoes of past would all remember us. We send an unbelievably sincere thank you to the fans that stood by us for so long. They are a force of nature.
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BV: You have been championed by Lady Gaga over the years and you supported her on her Monster Ball tour throughout 2011. Is she someone that you bounce ideas from or who gives advice on when it comes to putting out new music? Has she given the new record her stamp of approval?
JT: Gaga has always supported us, but day to day we don’t exchange creative ideas. Whenever we are together, we talk about the big picture and interests us. We just hung out in Austin and she said she heard Aviation High on the radio and blasted it. I took that as a stamp.
BV: With so many genres running through your music, we would love to know who the bands main influences were growing up. Who inspired Semi Precious Weapons?
JT: The band began as a result of boredom and necessary rebellion. I grew up listening to all things rock & roll because my dad is an aficionado. Country, pop girls, angry folk, and show-tunes were my late night secrets. Dan and Cole are equal parts Headbanger’s Ball and YO! MTV RAPS. Stevy was into acid jazz when he was like 8 years old. He missed his senior prom because he was playing with Boyz II Men at the Grammy’s. It’s annoying.
BV: You performed at this year’s SXSW Festival. How did the show go and what was the crowd’s reaction to the new material?
JT: We played the entire show wasted, and I vaguely remember people loving it !
BV: With SXSW being hailed as a huge success for the band and being a highlight at many UK festivals around the release of your debut, are there plans to perform at any of this years international festivals that you can tell us about?
JT: Nothing concrete to announce at this time. I can’t think of a witty way to say I don’t know.
BV: Are there plans to take Aviation out on the road and if so, where are you planning on playing?
JT: Yes. Everywhere. Soon. Promise. Thank You.
::: RenownedForSound.com’s Editor and Founder –
Interviewing and reviewing the best in new music and globally recognized artists is his passion.
Over the years he has been lucky enough to review thousands of music releases and concerts and interview artists ranging from top selling superstars like 27-time Grammy Award winner Alison Krauss, Boyz II Men, Roxette, Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Loeb and iconic Eagles front man/songwriter, Glenn Frey through to more recent successes including Newton Faulkner, Janelle Monae and Caro Emerald.
Brendon manages and coordinates the amazing team of writers on RenownedForSound.com who are based in the UK, the U.S and Australia.