WEB EXCLUSIVE: THE TRANSPLANTS' ROB ASTON
interview by vinnie baggadonuts

THE TRANSPLANTS SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM IS THE PUNKEST RECORD TO COME OUT IN A LONG, LONG TIME. BUT IT'S NOT A PUNK ROCK RECORD. IT'S GOT EVERYTHING: HARDCORE, HIP-HOP, DANCEHALL, SOUL. THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT SO DAMN PUNK. IT TAKES THE SPIRIT OF DOING WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT AND NOT CARING WHAT PEOPLE THINK ABOUT IT, AND TURNS IT INTO MUSIC. AND THE AGGRESSIVE VOICE AT THE FRONT OF THIS MUSICAL FREEDOM IS ROB ASTON, THE LAST GUY ON EARTH I'D EVEN THINK ABOUT PISSING OFF. HE'S ALSO ONE OF THE NICEST GUYS I'VE EVER INTERVIEWED.

Vinnie: Youíre out in L.A., right?

Rob: Yeah.

V: So, were you hanging out at the peace protests this past weekend?

R: (laughing) No.

V: Youíre not concerned about that kind of stuff?

R: I am, but at the same time, whateverís gonna happen is gonna happen, you know? People are gonna fight and kill each other. Whatever. Fuck it. I got my gun. (laughing)

V: Well, we had no protests like that around here--

R: Whereíre you at?

V: Columbus, Ohio.

R: Okay. Itís cold as fuck out there, right?

V: Thereís a lot of snow around here, and people are freaking out. But itís only because they donít get snow around here that much. Itís like the cityís under lockdown.

R: Right.

V: Youíre probably jealous about that, huh?

R: (laughing) Nah. Itís nice as fuck out here.

V: So, I read an interview with you today, and they were talking about a rap record youíre putting out.

R: Yeah. Iím working on my solo record right now. I canít really talk too much about details or whoís really on it. Nothingís set in stone, but Iím looking forward to it. It should be cool.

V: Is that what you grew up listening to? Hip-hop, or a little bit of everything?

R: I grew up listening to hip-hop mostly. Punk rock and all that stuff, I didnít get into until high school. I grew up listening to oldies and hip-hop, and stuff like that.

V: Are there any MCs you look to when youíre writing your stuff?

R: What do you mean?

V: Like, as far as your writing goes. Are you into the fast rhyming style, like Big Daddy Kane? Or are you into more mellow stuffó

R: I love Big Daddy Kane! As far as old school stuff goes. I love him, Kool G. Rap, and The Beatnuts. As far as new stuff,.. Oh man! I love 50 Cent. Heís killiní it right now. 50 Cent, and the new GZA record, I like a lot. I love everything, though. I love super fast stuff, like Sugarfree. Heís out here in Pomona. I love everything.

V: I wanted to ask you, everything Iíve read or heard (about the Transplants), states that Tim played you the tapes, and asked you to write some lyrics for them--

R: Yeah.

V: I was wondering if you came up with how any of the music sounded, too.

R: Nah. Tim writes all the music. Heíll come up with something, and then ask my opinion of it. But I canít play an instrument to save my life. It kind of frustrates me, because I know how I want certain things to sound. But I canít physically do it. Iím always more than happy with the stuff Tim comes up with, you know? (music is playing in the background)

V: What are you listening to?

R: Itís the soundtrack to The Harder They Come. This is ďJohnny Too BadĒ.

V: Thatís what I thought. So, whatís the newest thing youíve been doing? I know The Transplants have a Foo Fighters tour.

R: Yeah. We got a bunch of dates with them coming up in April and through May. We start practicing next month for that. Right now, Timís in the studio with Rancid, Travis is in the studio with Blink, and Iím working on my solo record. Weíre all keeping busy.

V: How does The Transplants' material translate live?

R: To tell you the truth, weíve only done nine shows so far. And we did those before the record came out--

V: With the Distillers?

R: Yeah, and Pressure Point. We got to cheat a little bit. There wasnít all the sound effects and shit, like the pianos and organs and shit. But this time weíre gonna try and get it to sound as close to the record as we can.

V: Are you gonna take any of the backing players on the record? Like Vic (Ruggiero) or Brody (Armstrong)?

R: I donít know exactly how weíre gonna work it yet, or whoís gonna play what. I leave that to Tim. Thereís gonna be at least one other person out there with us.

V: How did the Foo Fighters thing hook up?

R: I donít know, to tell you the truth. Iím just happy it did. Itís gonna be cool. I canít wait.

V: We had some friends come in from L.A., and they were talking about how thereís Transplants stuff everywhere.

R: Yeah, itís kind of crazy. All the bus benches and billboards and shit.

V: Thatís pretty awesome that youíre able to make a living off of it. I mean, I donít know how much youíre seeing yet--

R: Right,...

V: But, just to see what you guys are doing get so much attention,...

R: Yeah, itís definitely the best job Iíve ever had. I canít complain about nothing.

V: When youíre playing live now, is it odd being on stage instead of being part of the road crew? I know you go out on the road with Rancid.

R: Yeah, Iím going out on Warped with them, actually. Itís too much fun not to go out on the road. Itís just a big party. But itís a lot more fun being on stage.

V: Have you met anyone whoís totally into the record that you werenít expecting to be?

R: I think thatís whatís kinda cool about our fan base. We get a lot of Rancid fans, Blink fans, and Boxcar Racer fans. But at the same time, we get a lot of people who arenít necessarily into punk rock, or who might not check out those bands. Theyíre into us because theyíre into all different kinds of music. A lot of peopleís moms say they like the record. We basically made a record that sounds like nobody elseís, so people canít say, ďWell, itís not punk.Ē We didnít try to make a punk record. Itís more than that. We just do what we want, and fuck what everyone else thinks. Weíre happy.

V: Are you guys gonna do a second record?

R: Yeah. Hopefully by the end of the year weíll go into the studio. Right now everyoneís got touring coming up. But weíre gonna keep making records for sure, and touring and stuff whenever we can.

V: You know, the record really blew me away.

R: Thanks.

V: Itís like, everything I grew up liking and listening to was in one record. And our late editor, Wayne Chinsang, was not into punk at all, but the Transplants disc was one of his favorites from last year.

R: Wow! Thatís cool. Thatís awesome.

V: I was checking out the photographer (Estevan Oriol) you used for the record. How did you hook up with him?

R: Heís our homeboy, Estevan. Heís a great photographer. Him and Cartoon are partners. Cartoonís a good friend of ours. He tattoos me and Travis. Those guys did all the artwork for the record. Iím real happy how it came out.

V: It was cool seeing all of his photographs, the tattoo photos and the gang photos. How much of that culture are you surrounded by in L.A.?

R: All of it. Itís L.A.. Itís just like any other city: good, bad, ugly, and everything in between.

V: It seems like a prevalent theme on the album.

R: Everythingís here, you know? Gangs, drugs, bitches, violence. The artwork is the alley behind my apartment, And thatís my car. I think the cover goes hand-in-hand with the music. I love how the art came out.

V: Any stuff coming up that nobody knows about?

R: Just the solo record. Thatís it. Thatís gonna be exciting. If everything goes right, Iíll get to work with a lot of my favorite producers. I want to work with Tim again. And Travis. Iím just gonna treat it like a Transplants record: anything goes. Iím not gonna give a fuck if anybody likes it or not, or if it sells or not. Iím just gonna make a record Iím comfortable with. I think a lot of people lose sight of that. Artists are too worried about whatís hot right now, or whatís next. Fuck that. That shit comes and goes, you know? What matters is what comes from your heart when youíre doing it.

V: To me it seems cool to just be doing what you like doing, whatís real to you, AND to support yourself doing it

R: Yeah. Exactly. I mean, donít get me wrong, I want all the money and the fucking houses and the cars and shit, you know? But, nothingís promised. If a record sells, it sells. If it doesnít, it doesnít. Just prepare for the worst.

V: Alright. I got one last question: Do dogs have lips?

R: (long pause) Fuck! Iím gonna say "no".

V: No?

R: Do they?

V: I donít think they do.

R: I donít think they do, either. I never thought about it, but, I donít think so, dude.

VISIT THE TRANSPLANTS HERE.

PURCHASE ITEMS BY ROB ASTON HERE