Since their formation in 2006, the Boston, Massachusetts, quintet Transit have crafted a wholesome and passionate sound that helped them carry the torch for the new wave of pop punk music. The band has literally poured their heart and soul into each new record they’ve put out and continue to move forward with an aspiring goal to stay true to themselves.
During the first week of their co-headling tour with Man Overboard, I had the opportunity to talk with Transit’s frontman, Joe Boynton, about the band’s musical progression leading up to the release of their last album, Young New England, along with the ways in which he finds inspiration through continuous artistic outlets.
You recently started up your North American tour with Man Overboard, Knuckle Puck and Forever Came Falling. How has the first week of the tour been treating you guys so far?
It’s been good. We started [in] Montréal. The last time we were up there it was the Acoustic Basement tour. And there was snow everywhere; it was absolutely freezing. So it was good to see that area, you know, to enjoy it and walk around and see more of the city. Same goes to Toronto.
Since you are very close to Man Overboard, what are some things that you guys are looking forward to for the remainder of this tour?
It’s pretty much like picking up right where we left off. You know, when we started our band and they started theirs, we were friends before, in the past. They would play a few shows up in our area and we would play a few down there. And that kind of evolved from touring the East Coast and then going up to the Midwest. And then, slowly built up our touring routes and going further and further away from home.
But yeah, touring with them again is… you know, is just picking up where we left off. They’re good friends of ours. And it’s just cool, man. The whole tour feels pretty comfortable. You can tell that it’s going to be a good ride and we’re going to make a lot of good memories along the way.
What are some things people should expect along the way? Are you going to be incorporating a mixed variety of songs from each of your releases throughout the tour?
Well, our guitarist [Tim Landers] just left for his wedding. He’s going to be gone for a couple of days. So we’re going to be playing some songs off our very first full-length, This Will Not Define Us. And when he comes back on the tour, we’re going to be playing some songs off of Stay Home. We’ll be playing songs off Young New England…Listen & Forgive. So it’s pretty much just across the board.
We try to always mix it up. Put in a lot of fast songs, put in a lot of old songs and put in newer stuff. We’re playing a brand new song on the tour that we haven’t released yet called “Pins & Needles,” and that’s a lot of fun. We’ll play it second to last. It’s probably been the highlight of the set for me, just to be able to break in some new material and start warming up to the song and really getting better at it each night. You know, when you have a new song, it takes some time to build into it live and make it sound as good as you wanted it to. So, it’s cool to have that challenge right now
It’s been over a year since Transit put out Young New England. At this point, are you starting to take any harsh remarks about your newly developed sound with a grain of salt? Also, throughout the time period since the record was released, what was the general feedback you guys have received from it?
With our band, we’ve always tried to put out a different sounding record. You go back to the very beginning our band with Let It Out and This Will Not Define Us, every record has been purposely made to sound different than the next. And we’ve always gotten flak for that. And we’ve always gotten praise for that at the same time. You know, when we put out Listen & Forgive, there were a lot of kids that were bummed out about it because it wasn’t heavy enough for them. And then, slowly it became everybody’s favorite record. And it took about six months for that to happen.
Some records take longer. We tried to put as much of ourselves into the songs as possible, but not trying to just write the same record because people want that and kids expect it. We’re not here to cater to people. We’re here to make our art. To make our art genuine.
We’re more folk-y and punk sounding… you know, more raw sounding music at the time we put out Young New England. And we went with a different producer. This time we went with Ted Hutt, who worked on Gaslight Anthem and Dropkick Murphys. And he’s well known for his punk records and his folk records. So we made a little gamble with that. We kind of expected some kids to like it and some kids not. Live, the biggest songs we have, the ones kids sang along the most, happen to be Young New England songs. When it comes down to live shows, it’s probably the reaction we have.
Again, music is not about pleasing other people. It’s about being genuine with yourself and genuine with the art you create. You know, making sure you’re giving people yourself in that current moment and not just regurgitated songs because that’s what’s going to sell CDs.
We’re always going to try to write a different record and change up our style every time. So if people didn’t like Young New England, you know, the next record is not going to sound remotely like that, but it’s not going to sound remotely like Listen & Forgive or any of the previous records. We’re trying to be as genuine as possible and if we get flak for that, that’s okay. Because at the end of the day, when we hang up our coats and when this band is over, we’re going to be more proud of being real with ourselves and not just giving people what they want.
It is natural over time for many bands to change their style for artistic, musical or personal reasons. Since you guys have been around for a very long time, would you consider Young New England as a completely new chapter in the career of the band? With each album, are you always going to provide something different based on how you’re feeling or what you are into?
Exactly. There are a lot of fans that only like Stay Home and hate Listen & Forgive, you know? There’s even fans that love This Will Not Define Us and hated Stay Home. It’s just the gamble that you make to be genuine with yourself. I listen to all different types of music. I listen to a lot of hip-hop. I listen to a lot of metal. I listen to a lot of punk and hardcore bands. I am not always going to want to write the same record. And I think as we’re growing, not everyone’s growing at the same rate, so that’s completely natural. I still feel zero regret if people like one album over the other. It’s not about that. It’s about being genuine with yourself. And if people don’t connect as much as you would hope, that’s okay. Everyone’s different and that’s just how it goes.
You’re also lead vocalist of the side-project Long Lost, which is a lighter group as opposed to Transit. When you guys were writing and recording for the Long Lost LP, Save Yourself, Start Again, was there a lot inspiration from this record that carried over into the writing process of Young New England?
Yeah, the Long Lost record [Save Yourself, Start Again] came out after Young New England and it was recorded before it. So it was almost sandwiched in between. Long Lost was basically a bunch of songs that didn’t fit the other Transit records. Some of the songs were supposed to be on Keep This To Yourself, which was a much later record. And I am always writing songs when I am home; I am constantly and constantly writing and I just had a urge to get more songs out there, even though knowing we aren’t going to be able to tour it as much as Transit. I thought it would be very special to put more material out there in the world, you know, for kids who like Transit to listen to and just to have. It’s just another outlet for me to express myself and get more of my creativity out of the studio.
All I try to do is attack this whole music thing with love. I try to look at every song as the last song I’ll ever write. I put every inch and ounce of myself into each word and into each line and into each melody that I can. And I always try to hone in on the moment that I am living in at the time. So if a song lives on the date that the song is written in, and every day you feel different, you’ll have a good day, you’ll have a bad day, you’ll have a nostalgic day, you’ll have ups and downs constantly. And that’s what each song is. It’s a little time capsule of my life.
Last December you guys put out the EP Futures & Sutures. Did revisiting any of these songs from Young New England and Listen & Forgive give you the opportunity to become inspired to write new material?
There’s not really a strategy to anything we do. We just kind of record, write, put stuff out there. If we didn’t write a different style record every time, we probably wouldn’t be a band. Testing the boundaries of yourself and trying to discover different ways of expressing yourself normally kept the band feeling new and not make it feel like work, and that’s why we’ve changed up so much.
Now, do you have any plans to go into the studio anytime soon?
Yeah, we’re almost done recording our next record. We got a few more weeks to go. We’re probably not going to put it out for a while; we just wanted to record low key, so we didn’t have to feel any pressure and just really do it for ourselves. We’re really trying to find to make some songs we’re going to fall in love with. We’ve written over like, 40 or 50 songs, just some ideas, like little pieces, and we’re probably going to put out 10 of the best ones and that’s it.
Transit will be playing at Irving Plaza in Manhattan on June 20 and at the Theatre Of Living Arts in Philadelphia on June 21. For more information, go to blog.transitband.com.