The Von Tramps are a rising punk & ska-core act from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Front woman Jenna Enemy took some to answer a few questions while the band gets ready to make a sensible escape from Minnesota in January. Check out the interview below for hot tips on what to do when touring the west coast, the band’s next release, and life with DIY!
DyingScene: Hey Jenna, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for us. Word on the mean streets of Facebook is that The Von Tramps are pretty busy right now. My uncle shared a post about you guys going to a long beach for a tsunami or something; I didn’t actually read it because there wasn’t anything in the headline for me to get outraged about. Could you clarify this story?
Jenna Enemy: Hey now, we all fall for Zuckerberg’s click-bait from time to time but this one is true. We are very excited to play Toxic Toast Records in Long Beach with our new friends Western Settings and Tsunami Bomb! The show is on January 24th at Toxic Toast Theatre in Long Beach, California. [Ed.: link to tickets is at the end of this interview] While we’re there come and say hi to us at the NAMM show in Anaheim as well!
DS: The Von Tramps just toured the west coast last fall. Are you turning your back on the north coast?
JE: The crazy thing about this new digital frontier is we can see where people are digging The Von Tramps. Our top city is our hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota but not far behind at #2 is LA and from there, cities all over the west coast round out the rest of our top 5 slots. We will go where you want us to! It feels like we have two homes and we’re lucky that both places have so many awesome friends — one home is just slightly warmer sometimes.
Don’t fret though, Minneapolis. We’re going to have a bangin’ show on Saint Patrick’s Day (March 17) with our favorites The Melismatics and The Dollyrots at Uptown VFW. You can’t get rid of us that easy.
DS: Did you have any favorite stops? I saw that you played Gilman. 17-year-old me is jealously clutching his issues of Cometbus in one hand as he writes terrible, desperate poetry with the other.
JE: Can’t wait to read the empty glass haiku of Daron’s teenage woes. Click that subscribe button for me.
We were fortunate to play Green Day’s Gilman. That was incredible! The Bay Area knows a good time. Another highlight from this year is when First Avenue & 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis threw me a birthday party last November.
But as for favorite stops, I have to admit we’re a band that loves meeting dogs (which we met a ton of people’s dogs. Including a very special Golden Retriever that eats rocks. And we’re a band that loves to eat.
In Seattle, Krissandra (bass) and I pigged out on fresh crab at Pike’s Place Market while Kieran (drums) fed his Starbucks addiction at the first Starbucks on 1st and Pike. Chelsea (guitar) had her donut fix at VooDoo Donuts in Portland. We hit In-N-Out Burger in Cupertino with our whole tour crew (Space Monkey Mafia, Violet Island, and Crew) and got drive-through burgers overlooking Silicon Valley’s newly washed Tesla Roadsters. In East LA, by Cafe Nela, our friend Ryan led us to his favorite taco truck and it did not disappoint. And in San Diego we ordered the best room service, watched a Golden Girls marathon, braided each other’s hair, and were in our bunk beds by 9 pm. We’re hardcore like that.
DS: Both “Fast & Loose” and “The Future is Female” had a mix of playfulness and poignancy. Was that by design?
JE: I think it’s just a reflection of people. People aren’t one-dimensional and our music is a reflection of that. Even in the worst of the worst situations, have you ever noticed how your first instinct is to laugh? Like when you fall and hurt yourself, the very first thing you do is get up and even though you’re in so much pain you still laugh with your buddies like “did you just see that? I nearly broke myself on that stair there — funny, I’m bleeding, it’s hilarious. I almost died.”
I think at the root of everything people are funny. That’s our truest form as humans. It takes failure sometimes or life to slap us to get back to that form. So even though I’m writing about terrible things and personally, the worst few years of my life to date, there’s still humor in it. Playfulness in music is also not a new thing. I grew up in the school of doo-wop, golden age oldies, ska, punk rock, and musical theater. Everything I listen to has this quirky quality. Some of my favorites for reference: The Vandals’ “My Girlfriend’s Dead,” Elvis’ “Almost Always True,” No Doubt’s “Just A Girl,” The Replacements’ “Bastards of Young,” Dolly Parton “Dumb Blonde,” “Agony” from the musical Into the Woods or “Priest” in Sweeney Todd. I take my heartache with a side of humor every time.
DS: What are your plans for the next record?
JE: We just released a full length record so calm down! That was 14 songs! Aren’t you satisfied?!
We are in production for the next one. What I can say now is that it’s going to be an EP. We are working with our favorite producer Dustin Phillips (of The Ataris) again, along with some new friendly faces this time around.
Lather up some SPF DyingScene because the new EP The Von Tramps: “Sun’s Out Strung Out” is an inspired collection about a long-lost summer love that you just wish would get lost. We’re going to be adding a few new ska-core tracks to our repertoire as well as experiment with a The Beach Boys-on-cocaine kind of sound. We really hope you dig it.
DS: As a fan, I’ve watched DIY go from the ugliest and somehow most lovable puppy at the shelter into this strange cyberbeast god-emperor that I have come to accept is as benevolent as we all allow it to be. What is VT’s relationship with DIY?
JE: As of right now we are still completely DIY and I think we handle the tasks together well. Everything you see is made by us and our team. Krissandra is really organized and keeps us on track; Kieran and Chelsea are really great at social media and being on time; Chelsea and I edit video promos and graphics; Chelsea is the accountant, I love designing— I mean there are so many fun things to do when you’re DIY. So MANY. A lot. Of. Work.
However, I think if you asked each and every one of us, we would LOVE some help. We would LOVE to work in cool studios and have someone else foot the bill for awhile. There’s a certain sense of worry when you’re an entrepreneur and everything is your fault and your gain at the same time. Someone once said having your own business is like standing on the back of a tiger. You have no idea how you got there, you have no idea how you’re gonna get down; but you’re there now so your job is to ride it and convince everyone that everything is going great! A lot of the time we compare our adventures to a off-roading a vehicle: the ride is incredibly bumpy, but we can go anywhere.
We are so grateful that we have such a devoted team of artists and fans who inspire us and keep us going. I’ve found the secret to the DIY network is just being brave enough to ask people for help. Most of the time people want to lend their time to do something fun and a lot of people have hidden talents that you might not suspect. We have met so many artists that just don’t get the opportunity to express themselves because they have such heavy full time commitments. Hopping on-board the Von Tramps hot mess express for a show or an event is something that’s easy for them to do and still get to express themselves in a way that they enjoy. DIY is such a win-win and I am amazed by these incredible people every time. So many thanks, and I don’t have enough words in this article to mention everyone- so instead here is a photo of Hans Von Tramp that we can all enjoy.
Would you want to do it any other way, given the choice?
JE: I don’t think there’s any shame in being compensated for your work and if someone would come up to me right now and say “Here’s some money to do what you love, go ahead and quit your day job,” wouldn’t you? I mean Reel Big Fish had it right to “sell out,” didn’t they?
The music industry has changed monumentally though, and bands you think would have it all still also have day jobs. I think no matter what we will always be, in some sense, DIY and I don’t know if we’d have it any other way. Even if we had more financial support I think the band would remain relatively the same. We would still work our butts to the bone, we would still be theatrical, we would still be casting our friends in supportive roles, there would still be confetti just probably more, we would still eat all the food, and we would still love dogs and make the time to meet your dogs on tour. The band would be exactly the same as it is now, just maybe with less waiting tables, less cooking deli food at co-ops, less making lattes and explaining the difference between tall and venti– or at least one could hope; and if not, who cares. We’re still going to make music together that we love and give you the soundtrack to your life because that’s what it’s all about; that’s all it’s ever been about, right?
DS: Thanks again for your time, Jenna.
You can buy tickets for the Tsunami Bomb/Western Settings/The Von Tramps show at Brown Paper Tickets and check out their full length “The Future is Female” at bandcamp and major music streaming services.