The Transplants’ Rob Aston On New Album: ‘We Make Punk Rock, It’s Our Forte’
Despite the ease with which they appear to create the music that thousands of fans go crazy for, punk-rock supergroup the Transplants didn’t just whip out their new album In A War Zone over a few days in the studio. Coordinating the schedules of Travis Barker, Tim Armstrong and “Skinhead Rob” Aston is a bit akin to air traffic control.
“The process of recording this album, it fell over a three-year span. We definitely weren’t recording every single day,” explained Aston to Radio.com. “Sometimes we’d just be working one day a week or one day a month or one day every couple months, because people were out of town. We just worked when we could. We did almost the whole album over at Travis’ studio. We’d just get in there and write stuff from scratch every day, and it was nice because we all worked together on this album, beginning to end, every song.”
The Transplants were formed in 1999 when Aston, a roadie for Rancid, was asked to contribute lyrics to a series of synthetic beats laid down by Armstrong, the Bay-area band’s frontman. As the all-star group took shape, Barker was asked sign on as drummer. Since then, the band reformed and took breaks several times as a result of having to navigate the hiatuses of Blink-182 and Rancid.
“We’ve always had really good chemistry together, especially when it comes to creating music,” said Aston. “We’re all kinda on the same page. Sometimes it’s kinda like a dysfunctional marriage but a marriage nonetheless.”
In the band’s early days, many of the Transplants’ songs were simple odes to partying and having a good time. But as Aston confessed, the band has matured lyrically.
“I’ll be the first person to admit I’ve written some pretty f***ing stupid songs that are kind of pointless. They were good soundtracks to get drunk to, but there’s more important things to me in my life than just partying. I like to write about things that matter, that can impact someone’s life in a good way.”
Although the band has toyed with drum machines and the like, Aston explained that the band enjoys when they stick closest to what they love–punk rock played with real instruments.
“I like the harder songs [such as] ‘In A War Zone,’ ‘Silence,’ ‘Completely Detach,’ ‘Exit the Wasteland’–just punk songs. When we work together as a band, we’ve all made different types of music across the board, be it hip-hop or drum and bass. But when we make punk rock, it’s our forte. It’s what we all grew up on, that’s where we all come from. Those are the best songs to play live. When we were making this album we didn’t want to make a bunch of song that we couldn’t pull off live. We didn’t want to have a DJ or use ProTools, we just wanted it to be the band. We wanted the songs to translate live as well as they could without the help of a bunch of machines.”
Of the album’s 12 tracks, one in particular sounds a little different, the aptly titled “Something’s Different.” The song features rappers Bun B and Equipto and stands out as a hook-laden sing-along.
But unlike the way so many pop music collaborations are feel like they were formed by A&R executives, the Transplants special guests are purely organic, explained Aston.
“When we get guests for the album, nothing’s planned out in advance like ‘Oh, we have to get so-and-so for a song on this album.’ We make the music, then start writing to it. It we think someone would really add to a track, we reach out. Bun and Equipto are two of our favorite rappers. They’re so good that they can adapt to literally any style of music, any beat. We knew they’d do a great job, and sure enough they did. The song literally is ‘something different.’”
Available now, In A War Zone, is supported by an 18-stop North American tour concentrated (mostly) on the east and west coasts.
Transplants Tour Dates:
June 11 – Detroit @ The Fillmore
June 12 – Toronto @ Echo Beach (w/ SOIA, Adolescents, Madball, Crown Of Thorns)
June 15 – Montebello @ Rockfest (Rancid plays the 14th)
June 16 & 17 – Boston @ House of Blues
June 19 – Silver Springs, MD @ The Fillmore
June 20 & 21 – NYC @ Terminal 5
June 22 – Philly @ Electric Factory
June 23 – Norfolk, VA @ NorVA
July 11 & 12 – Seattle @ SODO
July 13 & 14 – Vancouver @ Commodore
July 16 – Edmonton @ Shaw Conf Hall
July 17 – Calgary @ MacEwan Hall
July 19 & 20 – SLC @ The Depot
July 21 – Las Vegas @ House of Blues
July 23 – Tucson @ Rialto Theatre
July 24 – Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee
July 26 – Hollywood @ The Palladium
Aug 2 & 3 – San Francisco @ The Warfield