Staffer Lily Shallow had the opportunity to catch up with Transviolet at Firefly Music Festival this June. After their awesome, crowd-engaging, energetic-AF performance, the band talked music, mad marketing rumors, and more. Want the inside scoop? MEB’s got you covered, Transviolet fans.
MEB: Hey guys thanks for meeting with me and talking with Mind Equals Blown today! Awesome set. First things first, how did you guys come together? You say your New York founded, L.A. based, but where does it all really mesh together?
Sarah McTaggart (Vocalist): Yeah, the guys met in high school. They’re all from Rochester, New York. I was living in the Caymen Islands when I put a profile up on a musician networking site saying I was living in San Diego. Mike [Panek, Bassist] actually was living in San Diego, and when he was looking for musicians in his area, I popped up. He reached out to me, and I later confessed that I lied about being in San Diego but I really liked his track and I wanted to work with him. So we sent tracks back and forth for awhile. Then we brought Jon [Garcia, Drummer] on to play some drums because we love Jon and he’s amazing. And then we hit up Judah [McCarthy, Guitarist] and we were like, “Judah, we need someone to play guitars and you are so good at playing guitar…
Judah McCarthy: …I’m not. Let the record show I am not good at playing guitar. Strike that from the record.
Sarah: (Laughs) And yeah, now we’re all just a happy family.
So it’s like Catfish gone right!
Jon: Oh yeah, Catfish was amazing!
Sarah, Judah, and Mike: Umm…no, Catfish and the Bottlemen were amazing, but we’re not talking about them.
I’m saying she catfished you guys, like the MTV show.
Jon: Oh yeah! Let the record show I had Catfish on the brain.
I was gonna ask about an East Coast West Coast rivalry, but I guess it doesn’t matter…
Sarah: We’re not really loyal to one coast; we moved a lot growing up. We’re kind of nomads. I don’t think where we grew up is an intrinsic part of our identity.
Judah: But I mean, that being said, we played our first show as Transviolet in Rochester, New York last night, our hometown.
Right, how was that?
Judah: There’s something to be said about playing at home. I was backstage and I was saying this is probably the most nervous I’ll ever be before going on stage. You know, these are my friends and family. And you still have a home, you know what I mean?
Mike: I will say, though, having two different coasts growing up, you do really have different influences. Because you do have, like, hometown bands. I find that people who grew up on the East Coast have different influences than West Coast. I feel like you go to who is close to you.
Judah: Music hits at different times in different parts of the world.
Oh yeah that’s so true, let me tell you. When we get stuff in the South, East Coast, and West Coast are long gone, done running with it. So your EP came out in September. How has that been? I was talking to Brandon [band tour manager] and he and I were talking about how most bands put their music out, start pretty low-key, and work their way up with their music. But you guys put your stuff out and just jumped in with this tour and obviously are playing at Firefly and other summer festivals. You guys have that ‘everybody’s gonna hear about us now’ mentality. How has that worked for you guys?
Sarah: It’s been a really surreal experience. You put out a song and Harry Styles and Katy Perry tweet it. It’s insane. We’ve had a really good time touring, seeing different places. It’s amazing. It’s so cool to put something out that’s such a big part of your soul and to have people react to it that way.
Mike: And you meet so many beautiful people, like, in all those areas that you would never meet otherwise.
Sarah: There’s something really special about being on a stage in a city you’ve never been to and having people sing lyrics that you wrote in your head. That’s human connection. That’s why you make music. You say, “Here I am, this is what I’m thinking, do you feel this way too?”
Okay wow so I had a question, but that totally took me away.
No no no, you’re fine. So this is something I read online, and I just want to get your take on it. So when you released your first single, there were cassette tapes going around to random teenagers’ mailboxes…
Judah: We don’t know what you’re talking about, strike that from the record.
Just kidding. Who knows really how it all happened.
Sarah: We don’t know how mail works even…
Judah: In the beginning, we kind of hid our identity because we just wanted to release a song and see how it would do on its own with no other influence. So we got together with our manager and we thought nobody has physical music anymore, so what if we just sent a bunch of kids hard copies, cassette tapes? Because they have to put a little work into listening to it. You have to find out how to even play a cassette. And it’s something to hold onto. But I think when you put work into something, you appreciate it so much more. And I think it worked really well. People were hitting us up for months, saying, “What is this? It’s freaking me out!” We had mothers tweeting at us, messaging us on Facebook. We had people telling us that we were breaking the law, which is absolutely not true. And then we’d have mothers saying “What is this? My daughter is so scared, but the music’s good though…,” like okay thank you. But we never responded to anyone’s questions. We just recently started talking about it. We actually just signed some of the cassettes. People brought them to our shows. Actually, this didn’t get a lot of attention, but when we released “Bloodstream”, we sent out an envelope to those kids with a notecard that said “Hey, do you wanna rule the world?” with a phone number. And they would call that number, and it would play the song over and over again.
That’s so cool. Wow. Ahead of everyone by the way. Like that’s marketing/branding yourself on a whole new level.
Judah: I feel like if I got that from a band, I would feel so special.
Oh yeah, if I got that, I would be loyal forever. Forever and ever and ever.
Judah: Well that’s what we’re going for. Loyalty.
Band: For loyalty! Loyalty. And business for all.
So “New Bohemia”, I kind of talked about this when I was planning my festival coverage. I said this song should be the song of the summer. I really think it’s so fun. But how was putting that together? You know, I’ve seen a lot of people compare it to David Bowie, Halsey, even Katy Perry. But what would you say your sound is? Everybody likes to compare everyone to somebody else, but what would you say your music is, as its own?
Sarah: I’ve heard it described as dark pop, and that’s something we’ve liked and held onto. But that song came about when we were all hungover, or at least I was very hungover and really frustrated with the writing process. I kind of stumbled into the studio and had given up before we even started. I had resigned, thinking nothing would come of the day, and then this song came out. It was cool. I like that we have a song that might inspire people to think that the world doesn’t have to be how it is, that you can change it if you want.
Cool, so cool. So plans for the future. I know you guys are going to be touring a little bit of the East Coast, then going to Chicago (my city, so enjoy), then the UK? Any breaks after that to mellow out?
Judah: No, no breaks in the immediate future. We are going to tour until we die. And who knows when that could be, I mean at this rate we’re getting on up there (laughs).
Judah: But we’ve got plans to release an album soon, it’s pretty much wrapped up in a can, just waiting for the “okay”. We’ve got two songs that are about to hit the radio, one in the U.S., one in the UK. And depending on how that goes, we’ll decide when to release our album.
Sarah: And we’re playing the Reading Festival and the Leeds Festival at the end of this summer! All of our UK loves: we’ll be back.
Awesome, well we’re excited to see what you guys put out in the hopefully very near future. Thank you guys for sitting down with me for a bit, loved catching up, but I’ve got one more question: Can we take a selfie?
Michael Panek |bass| Jon Garcia |drums| Sarah McTaggart |vocals| Judah McCarthy |guitar|
Hear Transviolet’s new track “LA Love” on Spotify or SoundCloud, and check out their upcoming tour dates with LANY at http://transviolet.com.