Trailer Trash Traceys
Cast your mind back to 2009 and you may remember a bunch of Londoners setting Myspace alight with a wonderfully woozy number named " Candy Girl". That band was Trailer Trash Tracys, and their hotly-anticipated debut is finally here.
To mark the arrival of Ester, we caught up with band members Jimmy and Susanne. To hear the inspirations behind the album, the truth about The Vaccines’ tour habits and (what must be) the most implausible explanation for their name to date, read on!
Can you tell us a bit about how the band formed please?
Susanne: “Me and Jimmy first met in a band formed by a friend of mine, when Jimmy replied to an advert in the NME for a band looking for a bass player. We started to write songs on the side with the intention of maybe contributing to that band, but that band dissolved fairly quickly so we decided to continue doing our own music under the name Trailer Trash Tracys. We put our first song up on Myspace and it got some unexpected attention. London promoter Tiger Reid wanted us to play a show but we didn’t have a band, so she got her friends onboard and the rest is history.”
You've a pretty provocative band name! What was the inspiration behind it?
Jimmy: “Well. You know, Trailer Trash Tracys has a tri-functional meaning: the three Ts represent the three crosses of Calvary, the three Ras represent the trinity of the sun god Ra and the “iler sh cys” is Latin for “good spirits win”. Also, we didn’t want “The” at the start of the name; that’s like the biggest no-no in the “How to name a band” handbook. I think it’s very easy to hate our name but I think it’s so cool. I read a feature in a magazine that said they liked our music but mentioned how the name was “terrible”. In the same issue, a band called Big Deal was featured. On the cover was a band called First Aid Kit, whilst on the back pages, New Look. So I tell you this, I’m brave enough to be the first one to say those band names are worse than ours.”
So, congratulations on Ester! We love the fact it’s simultaneously hugely melodic and sonically experimental. Is that something that comes naturally, or do you work at it? And how important is melody to you?
Susanne: “Melodies are more natural than the sonic experimentation. But the sonic experimentation is more fun. I think the idea of a “hook” and a “melodic phrase” is something we are conscious of, for sure. To marry a “pop” song with experimentation was the general aesthetic to work with.”
What was your artistic goal for this record? And do you feel you’ve achieved it?
Jimmy: “To interest ourselves, really. It helps to listen to as much music as possible. To not be afraid to try any ideas from any defined genres; [to] push, pull, and tug. Not to follow what’s “now”, but to follow what excites. Translating soul is fundamental.”
How long did the album take to write and record?
Susanne: “Unfortunately, half the band had full-time jobs at the time of recording, so it was difficult to get the album quickly finished. The other half of the band were on the dole, but had to learn how to record and mix. The time taken off was a time to build a “studio” and learn our way around the equipment. With all this set up, the second album should be a doddle!”
Jimmy: “I think we just didn’t know when to let it go too… And it becomes less enjoyable the longer you start playing about with what were decent mixes in the first place!”
If you had to single out one stand-out track on the album, which would it be and why?
Jimmy: ‘Engelhardt’s Arizona’. Beyond any guitarist’s skill in the UK, hands down.
Susanne: Don’t have one. I love them all the same, like they were my children.
Can you tell us a little about the writing process in the band, please: is it a democratic set-up or does one person take the lead?
Jimmy: “For this first album, the writing team is Susanne and me, but Dayo and Adam do contribute on the rhythm and sound recording and engineering processes. The live interpretation of the album is democratic. Melody comes first, that are inspired by lyrics, then the lyrics get edited to fit the melody. Sometimes a rhythm comes first. Then we try and “hide” the pop sensibilities with interesting textures, musically.
Where do you get your lyrical inspiration from?
Susanne: “There is a book shop in London called “Watkins” in Soho that stocks esoteric stuff that blows my mind. A lot of it is new age wives’ tales, but some of it is enriching and inspiring.”
Ester’s elicited flattering comparisons to the work of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Cocteau Twins and The xx. Do you think they’re fair reference points? And what were your key musical influences when writing the album?
The fact we can echo those “influences” in one album shows the depth the album has in terms of sound: The xx and The Jesus and Mary Chain stand on opposite sides of the musical spectrum. We like all those bands. But listen closely and George Clinton, Van Halen, Liquid Liquid, Blondie and DAF are just as valid influences on the album.
What was the last record that impressed you and why?
Patten's GLAQJO XAACSSO. He really is in his own world and it’s an exciting debut that twists and turns; a complete roller coaster. He has mashed and squashed and boxed the music, and moulded the tracks into a sculptured piece.
And whose record are you most looking forward to hearing in 2012?
Jimmy: “The xx’s new album will be interesting! Animal Collective, Echo Lake and anything else released on our old label No Pain In Pop. Upset the Rhythm has some bands like Peepholes and Gentle Friendly that we like, so it’ll be interesting to see what they put out. 100% Beefcock and the Titbursters should have something out soon too I hear. They’re THE GREATEST live band in London.”
How are you finding it being part of the extended Domino family? And who’s your favourite act on the label and why?
Susanne: “Domino is a great label as they support their artists’ integrity and decisions, which is quite rare. Our favourite act has to be John Cale.”
You toured with The Vaccines last year: how was the experience? Any salacious gossip you can share about their backstage antics?!
Susanne: “It varied from city to city. Generally it was fine but there were a lot of confused and crunched faces from The Vaccines’ fans while we were playing. The Vaccines themselves were super-friendly, professional, ambitious and fun. Gossip? Hmmm… The singer couldn’t do much because of his throat and the rest barely took notice of the groupies that surrounded them.”
What’s the plan for 2012, then?
Susanne: “Tour the album. Avoid the Olympics. Watch out for planet Nibiru. Play a few festivals (we’ve already been booked for some). Hopefully go to Japan. Redefine pop music for generations to come.”
And finally, if you had to lay out the band’s manifesto in no more than one sentence, what would it be?
“No compromise to any external forces.”