Well-spent, Miss-spent Youth = TR8R
By Darryll McConnell

Normally I'd be looking over my shoulder, after asking some school kids to come into a corner with me for a 'chat', while I whip out my mobile phone. But knowing their guitars and stuff were just next door and they would be getting on stage quite soon, seemed to dissipate any panic I initially thought. I was sitting down to ask a new local band called TR8R, "Did you see any police? Ok - good... so... about this band then..."

TR8R, despite diminutive years, have fit in quite a lot over the last few months. (I saw them robbed of top spot in a talent contest by a 9 year old 'comedian', whose only joke was his tie). They formed as TR8R in May 2008, in the sleepy town of Chesham, but before that the boys in the band had honed their skills at pub gigs, admirably playing great covers from 'Rocks Rich Oeuvre', written by men around twice their age, (Conor, 14; drums, George, 15; bass, Mikey, 15; guitar - the mainstays and troubadours with musical equipment in their hands). THEN they managed to deal with the eternal problem of "What do we do with a problem like getting a (proper) singer?" After an audition, they found 18 year old Victoria Mackenzie; all clipped tones and a voice as clear as cut crystal. Then they really got to work. So I had to ask...

You've been playing pubs for a while - I saw you a few times; you seem to have had different singers. When did it all come together as the final line-up?
Mikey grins as he leans back in the chair. "We were a bit of a shambles back then, to be honest!" George attempts to be a little more generous, saying, "Well, back then we weren't really 'together' - just playing for fun. It was a good foundation to learn, as we were doing a lot of covers. Once Vicky joined, we sort of got on with the job of being more professional and started writing our own material".

Victoria - how did you come to audition for the band?

"Well, I saw the audition poster and thought I'd give it a go. After some practice, and becoming friends with the guys I thought 'Yeah, I want to be a part of this', and that if I wasn't, I'd miss it".

Was there a moment when you all thought "Yes - this is it: we're really a 'proper' band"?

George is quick to answer. "There were a few moments, where we all found ourselves looking at each other during songs and thinking 'This is happening'". (Mikey leans back and laughs), "Initially the song writing process was a bit overwhelming for people with minds as tiny as ours, but then we started to think 'Great - we don't mind doing this for another year!'". Victoria is resolute; "There was definitely a moment in rehearsal when we felt we'd come together as a band".

All bands hate saying they sound like anyone else. If I was to ask 'If you were another band in the world?' who would you be?

They all laugh and answer simultaneously: "Paramore!" Conor leans forward and stresses "Though we don't sound anything like them". George elaborates: "All bands start as sums of their influences, and then with time they start to make their own sound". Victoria is wearily a little more dismissive of the Paramore reference; "They would all say that - as they're boys, and I'm a female singer".

You've covered Hotel California recently. Why?

"Because it's sexy!" Conor says defiantly. Victoria is equally enthused; as though I've said something preposterous: "I loved it! It's brilliant! The main reason for doing it was just to do something different for a cover. Somebody once said that Hotel California is a 'guilty pleasure'".

Odd choice for a young, punky/poppy band with more than enough of their own songs though...

"Its a good cover to do in pubs," George adds thoughtfully, "Itís a mixed crowd in a pub; a lot of people older than us in some audiences, so we played to those audiences. And everyone loves Hotel California". Mikey admits with pride: "We like doing odd choices for covers. Makes things a little different". (Indeed - at their Xmas gig they covered The Pogues "Fairytale of New York").

Whatís in the year ahead for you?

Conor leaps in with "Big bus... big chicks... big spliffs". Thatís disconcerting from someone almost a third of my age and half my height but: he's the drummer, that's what they do isn't it? George furrows his brow as he hears that, and wants to offer the more serious answer: "Definitely more gigs... and more songwriting. We've got enough for an album, but we need to keep on working". Victoria is comfortable to be a little more bold, "If all goes to plan, the band will be a success in the next year, and I will hold off going to university".

What do you find most annoying in the life of the band?

Conor's straight off the blocks again: "Mikey. No - it's actually George". The question was supposed to illicit an answer like 'waiting for sound checks', or 'waiting for ages between sound checks and actually playing'. "Shouting at them!" Stresses Victoria, laughing further; "Just to get things done sometimes. We'll be at a rehearsal, Mikey will start playing some riff, Conor knows it and starts and then George follows. I sometimes have to call them back to the job at hand".

Dare I ask who the most arrogant member is then?

The musicians are all quick, and happy to admit, almost in harmony; "Me!" Victoria is quite calm and collected as she simply says "Mikey", very 'matter-of-fact-ly'. But it's all in good humour. It's like talking to Buckinghamshire's own Beatles or Monkees in an interview.

...and after that - they went into the other room and played their songs; a wonderful mix of big choruses, big sound, (small drummer, but) big drums, and loads of flashing lights. I was relieved: it was the light show and not the police pulling up to take me away.

TR8R can be found playing quite often - they're due to hit Aylesbury soon. In the meantime, you can be pretty sure to see them on a Sunday night at the KMD Jam nights at Chesham Utd Football club.


Because they'd rather play songs than Playstation. TR8R can be found at www.tr8r.co.uk