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Rock The Walls: Interview with Tim and PJ of Transit

Rock The Walls host Patrick Walford had the opportunity to talk with one of the best up and coming acts in pop punk/emo punk, Transit. I spoke with bassist PJ Jefferson and vocalist Tim Landers about their new record Listen & Forgive, the pop punk scene, and much more.

“Pop punk resurgance” is a topic that is constantly coming up with all the great records released this year. You guys have been doing this long before this year. To see the scene up on pedestal like this and gaining popularity as you’re putting out your third album, what’s it like for you to see?

PJ: I think it’s cool. There’s a lot of honesty in pop punk and punk music in general. To see it getting popular again is cool. The kids that come out to the shows are really passionate about this type of music and grew up with it just like we did. It’s cool to build it back up with everyone.

I don’t think it really went anywhere. There was a period of time where there was just a lot of crappy bands who were calling themselves pop punk. Those bands had no heart, message, or substance to them. I feel like those bands have been weeded out. I’m really excited to see all these young bands come out today and really push off on the right foot. It’s apart of our lives. We’ve been listening to this music for ten years. It’s cool to see people into it again.

Who were the first bands for you guys that made you get into pop punk and want to play in a band?

Tim: It’s different for everyone in the band. For me, a local band called Moment. They have a full length called Songs For The Self Destructive. I never got to see them growing up, but their CD hit me hard, pretty much got me in going to shows. It’s been the soundtrack to what I’m doing for a longtime. Saves The Day Through Being Cool and Stay What You Are also had a huge effect on me. Lifetime, Hot Water Music, American Football, so many more.

A lot of really good bands out right now are influenced by the same bands. It’s funny when you relate musically and influence wise to people across the country, in other countries, and continents. It really is a community. The best part about this community whether you call it pop punk or hardcore, it’s really accepting. When I was growing up certain scenes would make it into a club. “You don’t listen to this band? Get out of here.” “You dress this way? You’re a loser.” Things like that. I feel with this scene it’s accepting and open. It’s about the music and the message. People are there at shows to have a good time and to relate. It’s great to see.

From that standpoint, what do you hope listeners get from your music?

Tim: It’s genuine and it’s from the heart. The songs are based off of real events and people. Everyone has something to say. Everyone should have something to say. This is just what I have to say. We put a lot of time into the music and songs. More time than people might think. We’re just going to keep growing. We have certain formulas that we are using and we are always trying to update them and make them better with every release. All we can do is put our best foot forward. It’s always gonna be different or we’ll never put out a new album.

It’s really about this is what I went through, this is what I learned. Maybe you can take something away for me and I can take something away for you.

How do you feel the sound has changed from Keep This To Yourself and your past couple of splits to Listen & Forgive?

PJ: It just feels right. It’s exactly what we want to be doing. We’ve changed tunings and the sound we had before, but we’re still keeping it Transit. When we listen to it, we feel that people are gonna hear it and know it’s a new Transit record. When you go from our last full length Keep This To Yourself, the acoustic EP, and Promise Nothing 7”, you can hear us come into this own we are at with this new release. I’m sure any releases before the next full length will be the same. If you go back and listen to all of them, you can follow and see the band have more chemistry with each other.

You can also hear what we were listening to with each release.When we first started, we were listening to a lot of hardcore and fast stuff. In the past four or five years, we’ve listened to some spacier kind of stuff as well.

You recorded your third full-length in the same studio you practice at with Torre’s [Cioffi, guitarist] older brother Gary Cioffi. How did that familiarity not only with the studio but with Gary help shape this record?

PJ: First off, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences we’ve had in the studio.

We had some problems with the original gameplan and were crunched for time so we went with him. He was there from the very beginning. We were writing songs in the studio, he helped putting it together, and then we did pre-production there as well. When we weren’t able to record with the original gameplan, that’s what happened. It was really cool because we got to record close to where we live. We went to the studio every day and got it done.

Tim: The cool part is Gary came to a bunch of our shows and was taking mental notes of everything going on. What he really wanted from us on this record was to capture a live feel. So we ended up recording a lot of instruments at the same time all at once then going over and fixing all the little mistakes with putting the vocals on after. I think it really captures the sound we wanted. The whole album really has a life of its own.

PJ: We then sent the tracks to Steve Haigler who mixed and mastered all the tracks. The combination of the equipment we were using to whatever Steve used and did to what we gave him was straight up magic. I couldn’t be any happier with the way it sounds.

I think you guys also showed that you don’t need to go to a big name producer to get a big sound.

PJ: It’s also really cool because the record is 100% us. Just us and Gary working on it. He’s like the sixth  member of our band.

Tim: There are some pop punk influenced songs but it’s really all over the place. We have a piano driven song, an acoustic song, it’s not really all pop punk. We   have some really hard hitting punk songs as well. It’s really just like a mixtape. It’s like when you go and you make a mix CD for a friend. That’s how we look at our full lengths. We really want to give someone something to keep and make their own.

The song All Your Heart on Listen & Forgive features Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. How’d it come about to have him on this track?

PJ: He hit us up. What happened was he tweeted once that he needed suggestions for bands he should take out on tour with the solo project he is doing right now. A couple of kids told him to take us out. He ended up contacting us, and told us he really liked us but it didn’t fit what he was doing right now so we couldn’t tour with him. He said he was really interested in working with us or helping us out. It was his idea. He told us if we ever needed any guest vocals on a song or anything like that he’d be down. We told him we were a month away from recording and he was stoked for it. We sent him the track and told him what we wanted with it and he killed it.

Tim: He did a great job. He put everything he had into it in his own studio. His band has been a big influence of ours growing up. It was really cool to have someone you look up to put down a part of their own on something you created and worked on.

With something like that happening and with all the critical acclaim the available has recieved thus far, for yourselves, how surreal is it for you at this point? Has seeing some of your hard work coming back so positive and touring with influences like Saves The Day and Bayside set in yet?  

PJ: It’s sick. We grew up listening to all these bands – Fall Out Boy, Bayside, Saves The Day, Senses Fail. We get these offers to do these tours and it’s completely like, “What, are you kidding me?” Four years ago we were saying, “Someday I hope we get to do stuff like this (their upcoming tour).” It’s just more reason to love what we do. Getting to see bands we grew up and love every night for a month straight.

Do you feel that the Patrick Stump guest spot and Saves The Day/Bayside tour offer have been the first “big/surreal” moments for the band?

Tim: That was definitely a huge one. We got offered Less Than Jake and that was awesome. Senses Fail was huge. Patrick Stump hitting us up was awesome. Hearing from people we knew of but never knew personally, getting to know them is really cool.

The first time we started talking to the dudes from Rise sort of felt like that too. You can go back to when we first started talking to Jeff from Run For Cover or even before that The Barretts who helped us out when we were nothing and put out our first full length. Even that at first was like, “Holy shit, someone wants to help us out this much.” From there it just picked up. When we first got to work with Jesse Cannon was cool because we know the records he had worked on. It’s all real eye opening to see and really humbling. You never want to take any of it for granted and want to appreciate it.

With the tour kicking off today, what are the feelings going into it? Any nerves at all because of the influence?

PJ: We are so stoked. Ever since we got the offer about six months ago I’ve been waiting for October. It is such a treat to be doing it and touring with those bands. 100% privilege.

Seeing what’s going on within the scene, where do you feel it’s going to get to? Do you think with the rise in popularity that we’ll start to see bands like yourselves, Title Fight, and Man Overboard doing Warped Tour?

PJ: We’ll see. It’s all about timing. We’d love to go out on Warped and do the whole thing, especially if we got a sick spot and some of our friends were also on the tour. We could get a offer that we feel is more appealing during that time and we’d take that. It’s all about timing and what’s best for us.

With that in mind, do you feel the whole idea of Warped Tour, with barricades and big stages and big open spaces, makes some bands in the scene hesitant to move towards the Warped Crowd and pushing to get on the tour in fear of the possible 25-50 kid draws on a smaller stage while they could be doing a small venue tour of a couple hundred kids because it’s a type of different crowd and pop punk fans might not wanna pay 40-50 bucks to see one or two of their favourite bands at Warped Tour?

PJ: Yeah. A lot of bands don’t like playing small basements or halls. We love that. It’s the same stuff we were doing when we were 14 years old. Playing clubs and bigger venues and fests like Warped Tour also does have its advantages. Sound’s always better. At the end of the day we are just trying to play music as best as we can. Being in a place that’s gonna make us sound good is awesome.

Playing big stages also suck because you lose the intimacy but more people being able to see you is huge. It’s really cool. We’ve had the chance to play some bigger shows with bands like Four Year Strong where we were playing for a couple thousand kids. It’s awesome and It gives you so much exposure.

Tim: It’s not really the venue or the amount of kids. It’s how much fun everyone are willing to have. You could play a show with ten kids or hundreds of kids singing along. It’s the attitude the crowd has. Shows for me are about having fun, having something to say, and expressing yourself. It’s in the music and in the minds of people involved. It’s not really about the venue size or anything like that.

Thanks for the interview, guys. Lastly, something I do with bands I interview is get them to choose a song from their catalogue and a song by any other band.

Artist Choice: Owen – I Believe
Tim: This is everything I wanna hear in music right now

Transit – Over Your Head
Tim: It’s a older song. It was originally written when we wrote Keep This To Yourself. It’s a really personal song for me.


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