For those who didn’t know them, TRANK is a French rock band that mixes powerful alternative rock and new wave / cold wave inspirations. The band is now here to talk about their recently released music video and single, “Undress to Kill”. Check out what they had to say below!
Hello, Trank! Thanks for your time! For those who don’t know you yet, would you mind introducing your band to our readers?
We’ve been together since around 2016. 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. We’re all from France (sorry…), but we were all raised on all manners of rock and pop from the UK and the US mostly (with a little German thrown in for good measure). And you can indeed hear that in the music we make.
We’ve all got massively eclectic tastes, but there’s a common sonic ground we seem to naturally gravitate towards. Somewhere between Alter Bridge and Depeche Mode, Muse and Soundgarden, Royal Blood and the Cure. It’s alternative rock with elements of metal AND post punk in its DNA. We love contrasts, so we try to keep it both driven and dark-ish, intense and accessible. Kinda like we are 🙂
Same goes with the lyrics – there’s usually both passion and cynicism or at least some form of a twist to them. A lot of bands – including some of the bands we love – have a sort of monolithic approach to their identity: they’re very strictly defined and anchored in one genre. We love it when there’s a crack in the monolith: music should be like life is, deceivingly simple, with layers and nuances even in the most intense moments. Just because you have personality as a band doesn’t mean you should be too simplistic.
How would you describe the alternative rock scene where you are based?
Hmm. Good question. It does feel like rock in general is the “alternative” right now in France, where 9 acts out of 10 seem to play dance-pop or hip hop. Or whatever “The Voice” has just brought up to the top of the charts. And France is traditionally more of a pop or singer-songwriter country than “rock”. But in the last few years, there’s been quite a few French bands making it onto the international rock stage and we have a lot of respect for them. Gojira comes to mind, No One Is Innocent or Mass Hysteria before them, and more recently Shaka Ponk.
Around Geneva (we all live on the French side of the Swiss border), there’s quite a lot of good up-and-coming bands as well. Some guitar-based pop acts like Jetlakes, some folk rock in the line of Mumford & Sons (like our good friends of Bears’ Towers, who are so good at the sort of “light-in-the-dark” thing we love best). Some really interesting hip hop played with rock instruments (like Donkey Shot or No Roots). And also some really good extreme metal like Down to the Bunker.
Somehow, it feels like we’re in a niche of our own – we’re nowhere near “extreme”, but we’re much harder than most of the “non extreme” guys around. That doesn’t really worry us though – we want to make music we’d buy if we weren’t making it, rather than trying to sound like X or different from Y.
How do you manage your time between your personal life and the band? Isn’t it hard?
Yes, it bloody well is, but it’s also fun and a privilege to have the opportunity to do it. And it’s really worth it, which is why we do it and would never think of complaining. If you’re complaining about how hard it is to make music, try another job. Sure, it’s not like the old days when you could hope to start making money reasonably soon into a music career. And since there’s only so many hours in a day, of course reconciling TRANK with the day job – and a family life – is always going to be difficult.
And of course, we make it worse, because we’re incredibly demanding with ourselves and everyone we work with. Again, we want to make music that we’d feel like buying if we weren’t making it, and that means a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears in the practice room, then in the studio. And even in front of the camera, to get to the sound and the image we want.
But then again, that approach has served us well so far. We only recorded three singles (each with its video) in 2018 but that was enough to get us the attention of both Deep Purple and Anthrax. And we ended up opening for both of them in huge arenas (and both bands and their crowds loved us, so we must have done something right – OR they were very drunk). One of the choices we make to manage our time is to only ever play a limited number of dates every year – but we make sure each one counts.
You recently released a music video for your single “Undress to Kill”. Can you tell us more about this song?
How long have you got? 🙂
“Undress to Kill” is written in the first person from an imaginary character’s view. A guy whose obsession with “performance” in first-time sex with a new partner is so out of control, he basically forgets to even enjoy the moment, let alone connecting with the other person. Instead of the moment of sharing it should be, the whole thing becomes a totally self-centred, me-myself-and-my-ego affair. That’s where the idea of playing to our own reflections in a room full of mirrors came to us – and to our director, Alban Verneret. As well as the idea of “projecting” someone’s ego on a dummy, like the other person is a blank sheet.
And of course, the character in the song pushes his own ego-fuelled obsession with “performance” to the point of ice-cold rage. “You think you’ve seen it all? Nah, let me show you.” And so, musically, we wanted it to feel frantic and relentless, with the sort of dark-and-fiery blend we like best. The beat could be straight out of a post punk thing like “Annalisa” by P.I.L. (our singer is a John Lydon fan), the bass and synths give it that sense of seedy, unstoppable menace. But the guitars and vocals set the whole thing on fire.
In many ways it’s signature TRANK – although it’s a little faster than the sort of heavy mid-tempo thing we often go to. We often joke about how every time we go over 80 beats per minute we’re “speeding” – and “Undress” is 136, so we should probably have died playing it…
What inspired you to write it?
We could tell you, but we would have to kill you before you publish.
Would you mind sharing the rest of your plans for 2019?
We’re working on the next live dates – but most importantly we’re working on our first album proper. We made a 6-track E.P. back in 2016 and it got us management attention and a foot in the door. Then, another 3 singles recorded in one session, of which “Undress” was the last. Now we’ve got another 7 songs at various stages of completion and we want to put those, plus revised versions of some of the older songs, together on one album we can all be proud of. Hopefully that’ll see the light of day somewhere around the end of 2019, and we’ll take it from there.
The last words are for you. If you have a message to convey, here’s your chance!
Shit music and AutoTune are bad for your health. Oh, and if you like “Undress to Kill”, while you wait for the first TRANK album, check out the 2 videos that came before it (“In Troubled Times” then “Bend or Break”). If you watch them back to back, they tell a story of sorts. Don’t we think we’re soooo clever – that’s French arrogance for you 🙂