By Jeff Walsh
Semi Precious Weapons stormed into our lives with their monster hit "Magnetic Baby" in 2008. It was an online sensation before it appeared on their "We Love You" album in September 2008 (I previously interviewed lead singer Justin Tranter in Oasis).
The band recently released "You Love You," its follow-up after signing to Interscope Records. The new effort repeats the killer tracks with amped-up reworked versions of "Semi Precious Weapons," "Magnetic Baby," and "Rock and Roll Never Looked So Beautiful." Despite the familiarity I had with these tracks from the earlier CD, these new versoins are the definitive versions to me now.
The band is currently opening up for Lady Gaga on her Monster Ball tour and even after playing these songs hundreds of times, they really captured all of their raw energy and dirty glamour.
The new songs bring a cohesive feel to the nine-song "debut," combining up-tempo numbers like "I Could Die," live staples like "Put A Diamond In It" and "Sticky with Champagne," and emotional ballads like "Leave Your Pretty To Me" and "Look At Me."
By Jeff Walsh
The last time Semi Precious Weapons were in town, I was waking up every morning at 4 a.m. to work on my novel, which precluded my from attending night events (like their sold out club show). Thankfully, that was not the case this week, when the band played the historic Fillmore in San Francisco as part of the Perez Hilton Presents tour.
They shared the bill with Natalie Portman's Shaved Head (party nerds), Julian Perretta (Mika meets Jamiroquai), and then, after Semi Precious Weapons, Ladyhawke had the unfortunate chore of trying to follow Justin and the boys. They were probably good, but it's an unenviable slot.
If you're a fan of Semi Precious Weapons (and really, by this point, you should be, what's the hold-up?), then seeing them live just adds to the fun you already get from them. Lead singer Justin Tranter struts around the stage like a glam peacock, wearing panty hose and spike-heeled boots, and constantly ratchets up the party. From my perch at about the second row, I could see Justin offstage before the band took the stage. Ironically (or on purpose?), Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," was playing (read my previous interview with Justin for their love of, and history with Gaga), and he was already amping himself up, singing along, and dancing around.
Semi Precious Weapons have provided the soundtrack to my life for more than a year now, when I first heard their single "Magnetic Baby" after Perez Hilton loved the track and posted it on his site.
Finally, the band is out touring the country on their debut album, "We Love You," which is an amazing collection of garage glam gems that show how much talent is behind the first impressions you might get based on seeing Justin Tranter, the band's lead singer. He tends to like his eyes lined, his hair platinum blonde, and his heels high.
Before the band's recent in-store gig at the Apple Store in San Francisco, Tranter and I headed over to a quiet tea place to do the interview. While Market Street lined with people in advance of the St. Patrick's Day parade, Tranter and I weaved through the crowd. You could see people checking him out in his ripped T-shirt, suit coat, heavy-eyelined eyes, black and grey striped panty hose, and high, high heels the whole way there.
But Tranter was just a delight to talk to, and a great performer a half hour after we spoke. I even got to sing one of the "I've been magnetic since I was a baby" lines when he held the mic in my face.
We chatted about the band, labels (both the record kind and the sexuality kind), the music scene, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Lady Gaga, jewelry, and a lot of other topics over a quiet lunch. Here's what we said: