released June 29th, 2010
from the album - Semi Precious Weapons
Semi Precious Weapons is the creation of Chicago born gay/ambisexual singer/songwriter Justin Tranter, a charismatic frontperson with a long history of outrageous performances. Tranter fell under the spell of Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid when he was a boy, and after seeing Courtney Love and Hole perform, his course was firmly set. He wanted to be a rock star. Realizing he wanted to write songs, as well as sing them, he begged his parents to get him a piano and taught himself to play. He went to a music and arts high school where he studied classical and pop piano, before moving on to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Being a practical man, he studied the business side of the music business, as well as songwriting when he was at Berklee. While getting his degree he founded Musicians With a Mission, a scholarship fund for GLBT youth education. He also put out his first solo album, Scratched, a piano based album that turned the conventions of pop songwriting inside out with its dramatic flair.
After graduation he moved to New York and put together his first band. They were going to be the house band for an off Broadway play called Rockstars NYC, but the show only ran for three weeks. Still, Tranter's over the top performances started a buzz. His second album, Tear Me Together was meant to push emotional buttons with depictions of the extremes of love and hate, life and death. The album cover art featured Tranter's "dead" body being dragged out of a bathroom and people either loved it or hated it. But Tranter knew the value of a good visual, and the record's notoriety help increase his underground profile.
Tranter finally decided he wanted a full-tilt rock band. Bassist Cole Whittle, his college roommate knew drummer Dan Crean,and the producer of Tear Me Together introduced them to guitarist Aaron Lee Tasjan. The minute they played together something clicked and they all had the same ideas about rock's power to outrage people. The band's sound borrows from glam, garage, punk, and new wave funk, but it's distilled into their own high-octane Molotov cocktail. After their first gigs in 2004 they landed a high profile manager, former Marc Bolan/T. Rex publicist B.P. Fallon. He brought Tony Visconti, legendary for his work with David Bowie, to a gig and he offered to help produce an album for the band. We Love You was originally released on their own label, Precious Records, and was produced by the band with the aid of Mario McNulty (T. Rex, Laurie Anderson) and Visconti. The album was financed by Tranter's booming jewelry business. (Urban Outfitters and Hot Topic have moved over 100,000 necklaces designed by Tranter featuring the band's guns and heart logo. He also designs high-end gold and diamond skulls for Barney's.) The first video, for "Magnetic Baby," showed Tranter making out with girls, which upset some of his longtime gay fans, proving his point that rock can still outrage people if it's done right. We Love You brought offers from many major labels, but the band ignored them in favor of Razor and Tie, who will allow them to continue to chart their own decadent path. The album was released nationally in September of 2008.
A club sensation in their native N.Y.C., Semi Precious Weapons have steadily raised glitter-laden eyebrows since the band's garage rock-y 2008 independent debut, We Love You. They even nabbed a coveted opening spot on controversial pop diva Lady Gaga's 2010 Monster Ball tour. In truth, the pairing made sense, as Gaga actually opened for the band in 2006 before she was famous. Cut to 2010, and Semi Precious Weapons deliver their sophomore effort and major-label debut You Love You. Once again featuring the vocals of six-foot-tall, ambisexual frontman Justin Tranter, You Love You plays as an amped-up version of We Love You. In fact, the band included re-recorded versions of their anthems "Semi-Precious Weapons" and "Magnetic Baby," originally released on We Love You. The move makes sense in introducing the band to a wider audience and the slightly bigger/polished-fuzz of You Love You's production does nothing to detract from the original versions. Admittedly, a few tracks such as the plodding "Statues of Ourselves" and the slack "Rock and Roll Never Looked so Beautiful" often seem like a lot of flash and personality minus a great pop hook. Ultimately though, tracks like the Led Zeppelin-meets-T. Rex nugget "Put a Diamond in It" and the bratty AC/DC-inspired "I Could Die" are truly ass-kicking rockers that balance Tranter's snotty, glittery camp with the band's legit, hard rock ballsiness. And while snot'n'roll is pretty much Semi Precious Weapons bread and butter, Tranter's epic latter album ballad "Leave Your Pretty to Me" is a bittersweet love letter to all the fan girls he's never been able to love before, but for whom the album's idol worship-invoking album title truly takes on a reflexive and yearning irony. He sings, "Girl, go ahead and drink, cuz I can only be so many things. But when you leave, please leave your pretty to me." If You Love You is any indication, Semi Precious Weapons have plenty of pretty, dirty rock & roll to go around.
1 Semi Precious Weapons Crean, Pyne, Tasjan, Tranter ... 3:06
2 Put a Diamond in It Tranter 3:09
3 Magnetic Baby Crean, Pyne, Tranter, Whittle 2:44
4 Statues of Ourselves Tranter 4:33
5 Sticky with Champagne Crean, Pyne, Tranter, Whittle 3:17
6 I Could Die Crean, Pyne, Tranter, Whittle 2:36
7 Leave Your Pretty to Me Tranter 4:24
8 Rock N' Roll Never Looked so Beautiful Tasjan, Tranter 5:46
9 Look at Me Crean, Pyne, Tranter, Whittle 3:37