INTERVIEW

Chichester trio Traams soon realised that their hometown just won’t do

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The quaint cathedral city of Chichester may not be best known for its abundance of musical talent, but sometimes perceptions can be misplaced; occasionally out of these largely culturally starved bases grows something that offers a firm reminder that sometimes the most interesting bands spring up from the most unlikeliest of places.

“There are loads of bands, just not a very supportive council. There’s nowhere to play in town, so no one gets the opportunity. Nothing goes on late, there’s no clubs or touring bands,” says Traams reliable rhythm keeper Adam Stock of his hometown, sat in the beer garden of Brighton’s The Albert, famed for the Banksy artwork on its outer wall.

The middle ground of Portsmouth and Brighton is largely an area that is neglected when it comes to live music, and it’s in reaction to this that the band’s singer and guitarist Stu Hopkins set up his own night in central Chichester, where the three members of Traams not only first met but decided to make music together.

Despite its shortcomings, Chichester is a place that has played an active role in both the band’s formation and progression – that the place has no recognised music scene may have been a benefit to the trio. It saw them head to Brighton, a city that has become a well known and fertile breeding ground for a very DIY-minded collection of bands that includes Cold Pumas, Sealings and Keel Her.

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Soon after their formation in 2011, they headed to London to record with Rory Attwell; in 2012 another recording session followed. The plan of what to do with these recordings afterwards was something that Hopkins informs me was largely unplanned at the time. “It was a bit haphazard,” he says. “We weren’t really sure. At first we just wanted to get some recordings done and sort some gigs.”

Brighton’s musical community took to Traams where their hometown had neglected them; a relationship that’s been strengthened by the band’s signing to local label Fat Cat, who’ll release debut album ‘Grin’ next month. It’s a partnership that came about by chance.

“We were at a birthday party for our friend and while we were there we got chatting to this guy outside,” says Hopkins. “We were chatting for ages and it turned out that we knew a lot of the same people. The guy, Matt from a band called Milk and Biscuits, emailed us a little bit later, out of the blue, and said: ‘My mate’s having a birthday party, can you come and play?’ We were like, ‘Someone’s birthday party? Isn’t this going to be a little bit misjudged? Are you sure he’s going to want us?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, it’s a surprise party, he saw you and liked you, come play his birthday.’ So we thought we’ll do it, maybe a bit naively.”

Traams’ innocence in agreeing to the show proved to be invaluable. The secret party, being held at the local Anarchist club The Cowley, was for an A&R representative of the locally based Fat Cat label.

“It was lucky that we didn’t turn it down,” says the singer. If it didn’t directly lead to an agreement, it did at least help to accelerate proceedings – Traams’ own Alan-Mcgee-missing-his-train-home-and-catching-Oasis-at-King-Tuts, only with melodic post hardcore that segues into krauty punk, and less proto dad rock.

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The initial recordings that were done with Attwell became ‘Grin’’s core material with “extra bits and bobs” (newer material) later recorded by Hookworms’ leader and Leeds producer Matthew Johnson. In many ways, as a guitar band with an Attwell/Johnson production combo, it’s all you need to know about Traams – distorted DIY for the people; ‘big sounding’ but economical; notably not of the bedroom, nor flabby and overblown.

“We just had too much music,” says bassist Leigh Padley, explaining how “bits and bobs” became bits and bobs and a whole other EP worth of material, some of which was released as ‘Ladders’ in June 2013. “We still have five or six more songs, recorded and ready to go.”

“I feel quite fortunate that we have been able to write so much,” says Hopkins. “We don’t muck around too long; we generally try to write quick and get a demo down. Cut the fat and if it’s not working then we’ll scrap it.

“When we first got together we originally spoke about making music that had a propulsion,” he continues. “We wanted to make people dance and to have fun. We didn’t want to be like Wolf Eyes and just make brutal noise, even though we do like noise.

“We were a little bit punkier and faster, but ‘Swimming Pool’ [a waspy, mid-tempo track of single-mindedly linear guitars’n’drums and desperate vocals], which is the first track on the album, was recorded with Rory and I think that was the point where things started to change; it was relatively late and was one that just made it onto the first set of sessions – it was the bridge between that and the later stuff, where we started mucking about more with structures and other things. It just worked out that some were slower, I don’t think it was intentional or maybe Rory was just like, “play it fucking faster!’.”

Perhaps more so than their peers, and like label mates Mazes, in that regard, Traams feel like a DIY band that aren’t closed to ideas beyond the stubborn and limited worlds of garage and punk. ‘Grin’ has some of that plug-in-and-play vibrancy about it, but also groove, melody and more besides. It’s Chichester’s loss.

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