Miss-spent Youth = TR8R
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
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
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
Because they'd rather play songs than
Playstation. TR8R can be found at www.tr8r.co.uk
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