Semi Precious Weapons

Semi Precious Weapons is the band Lady Gaga handpicked to open many of her concerts on the Monster Ball tour. They also show up in her video for "Telephone," where they meet their doom. They've described their music as "filthy glamour," and got the famous glam rock producer Tony Visconti (T Rex, David Bowie) to produce their first album, We Love You.

We had a talk with lead singer Justin Tranter and drummer Dan Crean backstage at The Viper Room in West Hollywood, right after a rare acoustic performance by the band.
Dan MacIntosh (Songfacts): I was reading about how you describe your music as "filthy glamour and dirty showbiz philosophy." Maybe you can explain what that means a little bit further.

Justin Tranter: The dirty showbiz is important because we believe that music is best live, and that's the showbiz. Show business should be a part of what you do. And so for us, we wrote songs to perform live. To us, the live show is the most important thing in the world.

Songfacts: When you write songs, do you think about how you're going to perform them?

Justin: Exactly. Yeah.

Songfacts: So you write visually, almost like cinematic, would you say?

Justin: That's a very poetic, dramatic term.

Songfacts: If it's true.

Dan Crean: I think we all have images in our mind when we're writing songs on maybe what we'll do and what we'll feel on stage in front of people, or what the people will feel.

Justin: And the songs that we feel work best live always end up being our favorite songs. When a song feels good live, that's when it really feels good.

Songfacts: Do you think in terms of music videos when you write songs?

Justin: Not really, no - everything's about the live show.

Songfacts: Is it difficult to play in a more stripped down, less stagey kind of setting like the Viper Room?

Dan: No, we don't need to be loud to play our songs.

Songfacts: Well, I want to ask you about a couple of songs. The first one is "Magnetic Baby." So I want to find out what it means to be magnetic. You write the lyrics, right?

Justin: I did, yes. The idea of the song is that - sort of being a baby, since birth, being a sort of larger-than-life person that has its extreme positives and its extreme negatives. So the song is about feeling good about yourself and being awesome and fuck everybody. But sort of the secret of the song is the third verse, which is the dark side of having that big personality, how there are people who hate you for it. So it's about embracing the good and the bad at having a magnetic personality.

Songfacts: And how much of you is in this song?

Justin: All of that. All the songs are all me, yes.

Songfacts: So are you in a sense singing to yourself to some extent?

Justin: Or about myself. (laughing)

Songfacts: All right. And then there's another song, it's a ballad, called "Look At Me," where there's a line, "Subtlety is not my strength." Is that true?

Justin: (laughing)

Songfacts: Would you vouch for that?

Dan: Yeah, absolutely, 100 percent.

Songfacts: Totally not your strength?

Justin: Never has been, never will be.

Dan: Amazing lyric.

Songfacts: And is it something you're working on or is it something you just sort of accept?

Justin: I accept it. Working on your flaws only gets you in more trouble.

Songfacts: Well, you were talking on stage about a new album, so I want you to tell me about maybe what your favorite song is off the new album and what it means to you.

Justin: The song we played today is a song called "Free Booze." Which, I don't know if it's my favorite or not, but it was one of those really amazing magical moments where the whole song just fell out. And we obviously went back and worked on details, but 95% of the song fell out in 30 minutes.

Songfacts: That's a blessing, right? Because it doesn't always happen that way.

Justin: It doesn't, no. So that song has a really special place for me, at least, because I just think it's exactly what, for me, personally, that I wanted for the new album. One of those classic simple songs that just feels magical.

Dan: And when we wrote that song was kind of like this moment where it pushed us into our new sound and really everything we wanted the album to be.

Songfacts: Your new sound? How would you describe your new sound?

Justin: In the past, everything was as intense and raw and abrasive as we could be. And for the new album we're trying to be a lot more detailed and a lot more focused on the songwriting and really craft the songs, and we want to really bring rock and roll back to the radio. So we're trying to figure out how to reinvent ourselves and reinvent what people think rock and roll is, to bring rock and roll back to the mainstream.

Dan: To not be retro.

Songfacts: Do you have a title for the new album?

Justin: We do, but we haven't told anybody yet.
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