Joey Fingers (vocals)
Andy Carrell (Bass)
Zack Baldauf (Guitar, Backing Vocals)
Kirk Fredrickson (Drums)
Take one listen to Transmatic’s self-titled debut on Immortal/Virgin Records, and it’s clear that the steady buzz on this rock band is about to get loud. These four talented musicians possess powerful lyrical insight and sharpened musical chops, but most importantly, once they have their hooks in, they refuse to let go.
First and foremost, Transmatic showcases frontman Joey Fingers’ perceptive take on the fragility of human relationships. He loads his songs with multiple meanings, keeping the personal details veiled under layers of sharp metaphors. Although the Indianapolis foursome prefers to let listeners take their own meanings from these songs, guitarist Zack Baldauf will say this about his band: “We’re emotional rock ‘n’ roll with attitude. That’s one word I can describe the band with -- attitude -- a sarcastic, cynical attitude,” he adds with a laugh. Even as the lyrics take on the world with a healthy grain of salt, Baldauf, bassist Andy Carrell and drummer Kirk Fredrickson never allow the music to get dragged down by the darker side of cynicism. They compliment Finger’s acute storytelling with soaring songs that build on one catchy riff after another.
Transmatic was produced by Neal Avron (Everclear, SR-71, New Found Glory), in a process that deeply affected the band members. “The recording had a big impact on me,” says Fingers. “Seeing it start from this ether-like thing where there was no record, to the final product, I guess it’s like giving birth. Creatively, I think that’s the metaphor.”
Fingers also says the studio where they worked was watched over by the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. “We recorded at Sunset Sound and I definitely felt like our studio was haunted,” he admits. “We had some of the most bizarre instrument problems that seemed to make no sense -- like everything would be tuned, we would record, and suddenly, on the recording, two instruments would be out of tune with each other even though we’d referenced them earlier and they were fine. I started asking specifically about the room we were in, and heard that Led Zeppelin had been in there Janis Joplin had been in there, so I felt like maybe some of the sprits or some of that mojo was still hanging out in the building.”
Now that the band is out of the studio, Fingers says he is thrilled with the final product. “I’m so excited,” he says. “Neal did a fabulous job producing, mixing, and engineering Transmatic, so it’s really his baby too.”
With the completion of their first full length under way, Transmatic has already been a dream come true for these four diverse rockers -- whose influences run from jazz to indie rock to metal to AC/DC. Now they can really take their love for music to the masses. “The whole band met each other through Andy,” says Fingers, “and in the beginning, Andy and I decided that we were going to write songs that we thought were accessible to a lot of people. We wanted to communicate with as many people as possible with this band.”
That original pact was made back in 1999, when Fingers, Baldauf, Carrell and Fredrickson started jamming together at the Baldauf family pig farm outside Indianapolis. A year later, Transmatic posted an MP3 of their song “Blind Spot” on the music website Loudenergy.com. Nestled between thousands of hopeful bands, the highly energetic number struck a chord with John Maurer, bass player for Social Distortion and Loudenergy.com executive. As a man with excellent taste in rock ‘n’ roll, Maurer knew Transmatic was a cut above the Internet chaff. He helped set the band up with producer Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins, Liz Phair) and together they recorded a five song, self-titled EP for the site’s record label, Loud Energy Recordings.
Transmatic knew they had something white hot on their hands, and they started shopping themselves out to bigger labels. Immortal Records beat out the competition and signed the band. The attention for the new act continued to grow as Transmatic played with American Hi-Fi at SXSW and Maverick recording artist Tantric on a small US tour. Now with the release of their self-titled debut, the word on Transmatic has really only just begun to spread. “This whole thing has been like, I don’t want to say a dream, but it’s been surreal,” says Fingers. “We’re out in the middle of nowhere and the quintessential hope of the Midwest musician is to get that record deal in California or New York. It must have been fate.”
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