Interview with Doru Trăscău, the founder of the well known Romanian band.
by Monica Apostol
The Mono Jacks (TMJ) band, founded by Romanian grunge icon Doru Trăscău in 2008, just released its second album, Usor Distorsionat. Like the debut album, Now in Stereo, both releases have been enthusiastically received by the audience, and the band gained considerable live exposure in the years since its inception, touring in clubs all over Romania, but also playing big festivals in Europe: Sziget, Exit Festival, Eurosonic Noorderslag, ARTMania. The first single from the new album „1000 de DA” talks about our inner children yelling for freedom as we each carve our own paths in life. “The chorus says the whole story: “Give me one thousand yes for every single no”. I have had my fair share of No’s, so did this country”, said the composer, Doru (photo).
The Mono Jacks are a collection of thoughts and feelings in musical form. You’ll easily feel this when you watch one of their thoughtful, energetic live shows, high-in-demand amongst coolest clubs all over the country. You’ll also notice that underneath a layer of pervasive melancholy they have a rawness that will captivate you. “When I write a song I do not think it should be in a certain way. Calling music Alternative, Indie, Pop- Rock and so on is definitely something useful when it comes to “sorting” music. I assure you it doesn’t matter for the creative process. Thus, creating a name is basically creating a name as you would do with every other project, be it a band, a company or a clothing brand. What might make this tougher is when you decide to represent a niche, as rock music is generally regarded, or at least niche compared to pop music. So I’m proud to say that we stand by our music,” also mentioned Doru.
How do you see the political situation of Romania? Can we talk of a political awakening of the alternative scene in Romania?
The political scene is something that always annoyed me. I keep asking myself when will I be able to see the good guys outnumber the bad ones. Unfortunately, there are almost 20 years since I started asking myself this and I see no sign of real progress. Is the alternative scene in Romania showing signs of politically awakening? If that means that the artist is writing songs with political implications the answer is YES! If that means that the artists are out on the streets fighting for their rights, that is another big YES!
Tell us a bit about the new album. What’s its worst part and its best part?
The worst part was waking up very early in the morning. This was because I have a daily job and we would meet in for the rehearsals at 8:30 a.m. But even so it was fun. And we had plenty of morning coffees together, it was almost a ritual. As for the good parts, they’re countless. First of all, the joy of making this disc. My band, Andrei, Cristi and John, they were all amazing. We worked very hard and it payed really well, I’d say. Last but not least, the album is getting more and more interest and the feedback is really great. And the package (the CD) is nice too.
How has your sound progressed from the first record?
The first record we put out was ready in a week and most of the time we were focused on getting things done in time. We did not afford to book the studio for more than one week. Therefore, no matter how centered the sound was, we still had a deadline. A tough one. I can’t say we were not happy with the result, but maybe it didn’t reflect our wishes in the best way possible. Whereas with this new album, it was the complete opposite situation. We had a month at our disposal. The pressure is always there, when you know you must deliver something that will be recorded and will remain like this forever, but it didn’t matter. We seem to have overcome the “perfectionist” in every one of us and what came out from the hands of the multi-talented Dan Georgescu, our recording engineer, is a sound signature that we can be proud of. To me, personally, this was my 8th studio experience but, interesting enough, this is the first recording that I’m able to listen and fully enjoy it.
When writing, are you sometimes consciously thinking on making radio-friendly songs?
When I write I only focus on music. I’m usually in a place where I can isolate myself so I get no distractions whatsoever and focus only on the song. From there everything flows naturally. Think of a rapper when he is improvising phrase after phrase in a very natural way. That is happening to me when the muse is near. I only wish I could have the rapper skills and that words would come to me as easy :).
Where is TMJ going from now on? In music, in creation, in collaborations…
We are going to write our next album soon. We had such a great time making this one and we all want to keep this momentum going. As for the future, our biggest goal is a Grammy.