New York-based glam rockers Semi Precious Weapons have steadily made a name for themselves in the club scenes on both the East Coast and the West Coast, building their fan base one show at a time with their electric live performances. Jewelry designer turned outrageous frontman Justin Tranter captivates audiences with his provocative stage presence and titillating theatrics. Get to know one of the most exciting and glamorous performers on the scene today.
How did the band form?
We have all been friends for a long time. We met in music school in Boston, and then moved to NYC. NYC was a lot more boring than we thought it was gonna be, so we decided to start a filthy fucking party band to make the city what we wanted it to be.
How would you compare the L.A. music scene to the New York music scene?
We are friends with a lot more bands from L.A., actually — The Ringers, Nico Vega, Purple Melon and so on. And the Viper Room is like home to us. So I think I like the L.A. rock scene better, ’cause there is one. But there is nothing better than the NYC party scene, which is where SPW normally plays in New York. We have played many a 20 minute 2 a.m. set at parties like Trash, Rated X and Mother Fucker. I don’t really know if that answers the question, but that’s what I got. [laughter]
Your stage presence/theatrics make your shows extremely entertaining to watch. Who are your stage icons?
Well thank you so much darling! My favorite artists of all time are Marilyn Monroe, Sharon Stone, Jay-Z, Trina, Stevie Nicks and Mick [Jagger]. My parents also put on a mean show in our Astro Van while growing up.
What’s been your experience challenging gender stereotypes in a punk/garage band?
I’m kinda genderless in my brain. … Walking into a rock club in four inch heels and full makeup is amazing. It’s always awesome having security guards snicker at me before the show and then have them give me a high five after the show saying, "Holy fuck, you’re fucking bad ass!" And then when we leave every show with 20 girls….well you get the point.
SPW just landed an opening slot on the Lady GaGa tour. How do you think your brash sound will translate to an audience that is likely to be more pop oriented?
I think it will be awesome. GaGa is a visionary, and her fans are looking for something different, dangerous and new. If people leave the show humming "Poker Face" as well as "Put A Diamond In It" the world will be a better place.
How has your career as a jewelry designer [line Fetty] helped/influenced your career as a musician?
It helped me afford to take the band to London, Paris, and make a record with [legendary David Bowie producer] Tony Visconti. [laugher] But I truly love designing jewelry, even though it’s kinda my day job.
What are you listening to right now?
Miranda Lambert’s Revolution, Trina’s Diamond Princess, GaGa’s Bad Romance, and I always listen to AC/DC’s Back In Black at least once a week.
You’re currently in the studio recording a new record. What can we expect?
We are beyond excited about this new record. We are only a week into the process and it already sounds unreal. We are working with Jack Joseph Puig, who understands Semi Precious Weapons and the story we are trying to tell so fucking well. You can expect new songs, huge sounds, guitar tones from hell, champagne smothered magic, and also some really intimate moments.
Everyone has at least one story about a crazy night out on The Sunset Strip. Anything you’re legally allowed to share?
The last time we played the Viper Room we hosted an after party at The Mondrian’s SkyBar. We ended up in the pool with CariDee English [“America’s Next Top Model” season 7], and security threw us out of our own after party. It was magical.
— Brent X Mendoza