Trana Finds Their Way in a Weird World
Their debut album is incredibly poignant, with angry, adrenaline-charged songs about love and loss, mostly, with the occasional spiritual reference, with powerful guitar leads punctuated by the occasional violin and cello and wild, Middle Eastern-sounding percussion.
While guitarist and songwriter Yakup Trana (www.trana.net) never comes out and says that he's a little homesick for his native land of Turkey, it doesn't take much interpretation of the songs on Trana's debut CD, "Weird World" (released on Lake Samm Records) to pick up on a sense of isolation and loneliness that's nearly palpable. In "Hello," vocalist and co-writer Stephen Schmidt sings, "Went walking by myself just the other day/to free myself before I drown," while later, in "Lost My Way," the narrator he claims he's "Still all alone, talking to myself, incoherent babble."
"I don't know if it's one concept, but I think when I'm looking at the album it's more a reflection of our daily lives and our daily emotions," explains Yakup of the album, shrugging off the idea that there is a specific theme tying it all together. "We're trying to make good art and get ourselves across through art."
MP3: "Weird World"
Another defining characteristic of Trana's debut is the hint of tribal rhythms and the occasional stringed instrument that permeates these otherwise hard rock songs, perhaps there as a subconscious remnant of Yakup's upbringing around Turkish music. "I never played any Turkish music while living in Turkey," says Yakup, who came to the United States to attend school 9 years ago. "I always played in rock bands back home. It didn't influence my music until after I came to the United States, actually. It was kind of interesting. All the stuff that I heard when I was a kid started processing after I disconnected myself from it. When it's part of your everyday life, you don't know, you 're not aware of your musical identity or the musical gathering in your brain. So I came here and I started hearing, just naturally hearing, Turkish music, and every once in a while—not necessarily intentional—it would just come out. It just comes out in my playing. So I guess it's mostly just the environment. I didn't have to do anything to have the sound," he adds, laughing.
Yakup first ventured into the world of performing music when he was a teenager in Turkey. He and his friends made a bet with each other that whoever managed to learn to play their instrument within a year would have to put on a concert. Yakup, who had picked the guitar as his instrument, ended up winning the bet, and put on his first public performance when the year was up. He later immigrated to the United States to attend school as a music major, and started getting work around the Washington State area as a professional guitarist, sitting in with everything from jazz to flamenco bands and contributing to several other artists' records along the way. He spent his "spare" time working on his own music, mostly in solitude, until the time seemed right to get his music out into the world.
"I had a dream," says Yakup of the humble beginnings of his band, Trana. "No, I actually pretty much had a plan in my head, and I was looking for a singer before anything, because I have a huge network here, so I wasn't worried about the instruments. Anyway, I went out and looked for a singer, pretty much, and then I met Stephen [Schmidt], and I told him about my thoughts and my projects, and we started working together. I told him that I would get a drummer and a bass player, because I already knew who I was going to use for these positions, but I didn't want to bring them into the picture until we were done with the songs we were working on up until we were almost done. To make a long story short, for quite some time, Stephen and I were writing, arranging the music, finishing the songs, and then I put the whole band together, and we moved forward with it. It was a well-planned project," he finishes, effectively summing up and simplifying what sounds like an arduous process.
The result is the band Trana, made up of Stephen Schmidt on vocals and guitar, Yakup Trana on lead guitar, Sergio Cuevas on percussion, and Tom Barrett on bass. Their debut album is incredibly poignant, with angry, adrenaline-charged songs about love and loss, mostly, with the occasional spiritual reference, with powerful guitar leads punctuated by the occasional violin and cello and wild, Middle Eastern-sounding percussion. While the album can definitely be comfortably filed in with many other Washington-area, post-grunge rock bands, the arrangements are all so tight and full of surprises that Trana more than proves that it's still possible to create good music within the confines of the genre.
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