Tipped to be one of the hottest bands of the year, things are certainly coming up roses for Bristol band TRANSITION. Lins Honeyman caught up with the group.
It has been a momentous and, well, transitional year for Bristol rock band Transition. Having
toured successfully in the UK and Sweden in the summer and in Taiwan
more recently, the band have released their stunning album 'Openhanded
And Undetected'. Blending their own unique style with the influence of
the likes of U2, Radiohead and Jeff Buckley, it is no surprise that
they were voted amongst the Top Ten Bands in the UK on Channel 4's
Slash Music Showcase and have featured alongside Moby before 100,000
people at the Formoz festival. In addition, they have recently secured
a distribution deal that will see distribution of 'Openhanded And
Undetected' in the Far East, having already made quite an impact
Made up of two sets of brothers (Jesse and Josh Edbrooke together with Steve and Niall Dunne), Transition formed eight years ago and have developed their trademark driving rhythm and quality melodic and lyrical content ever since. Down the years Transition have made a series of recordings: 'Can't Keep Away' (2000), 'Little Known Classics' (2002), "New Space" (2004); 'Tectonic Friction' (2004). The band's stage show has also matured over the years, giving them the hold on the festival and tour rollercoaster that they are currently on and making their live appearances something to behold.
Fresh from their headlining appearance at the renowned Bristol Academy (the first Bristol band since Portishead and Massive Attack to do so), the band took time out to answers some questions on music and life in general.
It sounds as though the Academy gig went well.
Josh: "We've shaken up the system as we are not signed to a big record
company but have just got on and made a big fan base here in Bristol
and put on a great show on the night. So many fans just loved the idea
of risking it all to play a massive gig and break out of the small
toilet circuit mindset."
What other memorable experiences have you had recently as a band?
Jesse: "Spring Scream festival in Taiwan would be one."
Steve: "We played a venue called Riverside in Taipei on our second 2005 tour there. The response was amazing. The night was sold out and there were crowds of people trying to get in. The atmosphere was electric and from the first chord to the last everyone sang every word. It was amazing to feel so welcome on the other side of the world from our home. During 'Turn Me Around', the crowd even sang three part harmonies with us which was incredible bearing in mind the fact that for many it is their second language."
Taiwan isn't exactly next to Bristol so how did these overseas tours come about?
Josh: "Because Bristol is such an international city, there was
something about the spirit of Taiwan that we really connected with. It
made us want to go and play there and they appreciated it. So after
three years of hard work and networking, we received the highly sought
after invitations to go and play at two of their major rock festivals
which are probably about the size of Glastonbury."
And it didn't just stop at the festival appearances, did it?
Jesse: "There was lots of interest with record labels out there and we
talked with a number of them and in the end we decided that Taiwanese
label WWR really epitomised what we were all about. They are the
largest independent record company in Taiwan and really have a great
stable of artists."
Not many bands have two sets of siblings working together. Does this make things easier or more complicated?
Josh: "For us we've found it to be a strength because although we're
very different characters, we've managed to accept this fact and
harness it to combine four unique points of view."
Niall: "Sometimes it means that, when we argue, it kicks off in a big way but my brother Steve is one of my best mates so it makes for an exciting life!"
Does that mean there can be a few musical differences from time to time?
Jesse: "It's one of the main sources of disagreements between us
because of our diverse range of influences. During the recording of
the 'Openhanded And Undetected', it meant we all really had to put
aside our own musical preferences and do what was best for the album
which definitely provided the best results. Most of the time we work
well together, but when it kicks off, it really kicks off!"
How did 'Openhanded And Undetected' come about?
Jesse: "'Openhanded' was a big venture that we undertook in February
of last year. We started by giving ourselves the room to dream how we
would make an album if we had lots of money and could go anywhere we
wanted! It's a scary thought but we then went ahead and booked one of
the top studios in the country and chipped in as much money as we
could. We had nowhere near enough, but booked it anyway and in the two
weeks prior to the recording we had been given enough. That was really
humbling. We faced many challenges recording the album and one of the
biggest was time pressure. In the end, we managed to record and mix
the album in eight days. This may sound like a lot of time but it is
actually a very tall order. We also felt the pressure to deliver
something that was worth the time and money, something that people
would want to buy."
Any personal favourites from the album?
Steve: "I don't know if I have a favourite track but there are different areas of the album that I appreciate. For example, the piano on 'Turn Me Around' that I recorded with was one that Stevie Wonder used."
So who writes the songs - is it a team effort or do you go for the singular approach?
Jesse: "We are all involved in the creative process but it often
involves one of us bringing an idea for us all to work on. This can
sometimes be difficult as a song idea can feel like a part of you.
However, you have to be open enough to let go of it and realise that
it is not about the finished product sounding like it does in your
head. It's bound to turn out different because we're all bringing our
own parts to the creation."
What is the main message you aim to get across in your songs?
Jesse: "I never like to close down the meaning of a song too much by
saying what it is definitively about but I love to talk about hope,
the future, things that move me. For example in 'More Than Your Mind',
the song talks about being broken and having to move forwards, 'shape
the pieces into something new.'"
Josh: "Also, in 'One Step Away', for me the call is to 'turn around and face something better.' We feel like we've found something great in expressing our identity and forging a path that is off the beaten track and we want to share that life and vitality. We haven't got all the answers, but we're having a lot of fun!"
Given your hectic schedule of touring, recording and promoting, how do you keep your walk with God fresh?
Steve: "Well, we are really connected into our local church and we
pray together and also love to worship. Our lives are a lot bigger
than the band so this helps us to keep everything in focus."
Jesse: "I love making music and enjoying the gift that we've been given. I want to make a difference in the world we live in and bring hope to people. There is certainly more to life than just going to work and earning money to live. We want our lives and concerts to reflect and express that. We were always told to focus on either the Christian scene or the secular scene. However, we've believed in just playing to people who love our music. I think that there has never been a better time to make music. It has become part of people's lives more and more with the advent of ipods and the internet. More and more Christians are expressing themselves in the mainstream and I believe this can only be a positive thing."
There is certainly a feeling that people can really make a difference and bring hope to the world through some of the choices they make nowadays.
Jesse: "We really support the justice movements that have taken place
recently. We supported Jubilee 2000, the drive to drop the unpayable
debts in the world's poorest countries, and we now fully support Make
Poverty History. Niall and I lived in Zambia for a few months and have
seen the difference that fairly traded goods make. Our response has
been to make sure that all our Transition jewellery which is handmade in
Zambia is fairly traded. Same with our T-shirts which are made in
Turkey. When people at our gigs realise this, they often take much
more of an interest in the merchandise."
What's the plan for the immediate future?
Jesse: "We are really excited about the future and know that we're going to have to risk it all again! We're going to be touring and taking our music to many new places this year. We're also planning to write a new album in 2006 and have an acoustic project that we need to mix and release. Another project is to start a record company and we have already signed some awesome international acts."