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Trans Am Interview by Clarence Baxter

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Greetings, Comrades. By now you know I preach sonic revolution, freedom from the tyranny of soulless sounds, and liberation musicology. You also know that to spread the word, my partners and I strap on massive boomboxes, such as the Panasonic RX-7700, and free minds through dB levels previously only experienced at commercial airports and heavy machinery plants.

But what you might not know is that even revolutionaries like me and my comrades can get down, and I don’t mean in a funky way.


Mister Vic

In fact just last week, one of our new recruits, a Russian by the name of “Mister Vic” came to me practically in tears. It seems the poor young man had busted the amp of his ’84 Toshiba WX-1, a solid if uninspiring classic blaster. But the worst part was that he hadn’t bought any new tapes in months to play on it. He was stuck, depressed, and half-deaf– a potentially dangerous combination. Luckily a new tape had arrived in my box just the day before which was potentially chock-full of revolution-starting tunes: Liberation by Trans Am. From the first blasts of caustic sonic freedom which tore through our safehouse, I knew that the tape was just right to bring the passion back to my comrade. Indeed, within minutes Mister Vic’s eyes were alive with the fire of overthrow, and I had done my job.


Nathan Means of Trans Am

But it wasn’t really complete. I wanted to chat with the captains of sonic dissocance themselves about the new album and a host of other topics. Putting aside the work I was doing on a custom late 80’s GE blaster, I dialed up Nathan Means and this is how it went…

Clarence Baxter for USOUNDS: Welcome, brother. Good to talk to you about the new record. Change is a constant for Trans Am, what are the new elements in the new album?

Nathan Means of Trans Am: First of all, Liberation – that’s our album – starts with a scratching sound that suggests searching a sofa for the fucking remote or maybe some hair clips, then there’s nothing – just silence for, like 15 minutes, then comes the loud guitar, cell phones, spaghetti strainers, hellicopters, our president and other talking heads, and this dull thudding from the uneven industriousness brought on by beer drunk a six pack at a time, pot, coffee, red bull, nord keyboards, fights in the glow of ProTools, and rides home in a city hopped up on hate, fear, despair, traffic, and cops.

USOUNDS That sounds like what I hear in my head after a day of blastin’ the streets. Your music can bring our a special sense of dread, but there is also promise of some kind of future. Do you spend much time thinking about the future and how it might be? Where do you see the human race in 100 years?

Trans Am Well obviously our music tilts in a distopic direction. I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t feel so good about our chances.

USOUNDS Do you think there is a great threat from Facsim abroad, or at home?

Trans Am Abroad! I’m pretty worried about Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention North Korea and Iran. Why aren’t we doing anything?

USOUNDS I’ve been trying to get into Iraq and North Korea for a while, give them a taste of hip-hop or maybe some hi-dB Dub would do the trick, mellow out some soldiers in Iraq with some spaced-out rasta vibes. Do you like that kind of music?

Trans Am Sure, but I don’t like the people who like that kind of music so I have to listen alone.

USOUNDS I rarely listen to music alone because to be honest I can’t hear music if it’s too quiet. Tell me, Nathan, where do you find your most ardent fans?

Trans Am Detroit, Belgium, Russia.

USOUNDS Hmm, those places all have something in common but I’m not sure what it is exactly. Where are the best TransAm dancers? Where do people really throw down and get funky?

Trans Am Anyone who is smiling and dancing is cool with me even if they aren’t good dancers. There’s always the lone raver to be excited about and breakdancing is good when you mean it – it’s clearly the coolest thing to come out of america in the past thirty years. Memphis throws down, Miami is good, big cities are usually uptight. Seb has his own dance called “the Dictator” which you should call out for next time.

USOUNDS Why do children love to dance?

Trans Am The question is why do we not like to dance? Maybe you could start with a good listen to The Wall.

USOUNDS I personally love to dance and have the fresh moves to back it up. Your town, D.C. has some good dancers, does it not? I’ve spent a lot of time there but nhaven’t been back in 6 years– how has the city changed?

Trans Am First of all, I’m sorry to hear that. Yes the city has changed a lot. It’s more expensive now and you can buy Belgian beer at multiple bars.

USOUNDS Sounds like a real improvement, now you’ve got Mr. Bush’s Circus of Fear and belgian beer to wash it down with. Nice stuff. Well at least there’s always sports. I know you’re into sports, but isn’t that hard in D.C.? Why do the teams keep getting worse?

Trans Am Well, it depends on the team. The Redskins stuck with one guy, Norv Turner too long, and then can’t stick with anyone long enough to get that team together. Now they’ve got Gibbs back which may or may not work, but at least he can’t be fired as there would be rioting and massive ticket cancellations. The Wiz have made some really bad moves over the past 15 years. There organization is fucked. They flirted with MJ for a while, then dumped him. Fortunately all the negative publicity over that seems to have lulled them out of their stupor. Unfortunately, this season their two leading scorers have played together maybe a week and Stackhouse has been out all season until recently. They will make a run in the second half and since the East sucks, they could still make the playoffs. Either way, they are a good young team no matter what the win-loss. DC United, as I understand, was too dominate and kept getting players traded to make league play more exciting. They also lost their coach to the national team. Now they suck. Seb will have to answer for the Caps.

USOUNDS Your music has always spoken to me in an almost omniscient way. What I mean to say is that your meaning comes through, the soul of the band definitely, but not necessarily your day-to-day personality. Is this intentional or is it just the way it is?

Trans Am Good question. I have no idea. What is a soul? I do believe Trans Am is both bigger and smaller than the sum of it’s parts.

USOUNDS Do you have any heroes? Are they still alive?

Trans Am Not exactly.

USOUNDS Well let’s get exact– about 5 years ago, I tried to foment revolution in Singapore by playing your music ( click here to read). Do you think music has a place in revolution, or can even act as a catalyst?

Trans Am I absolutely do – but it probably won’t happen immediately on the dance floor, you might have to wait a few months to see if it worked.

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