Semi Precious Weapons rock with risk and rhinestones

Semi Precious Weapons Live By: Sheena Lyonnais
Dec 08, 2008

Those of you who have marveled at Andy Warhol’s Factory footage may want to check out Semi Precious Weapons’ next show. The Brooklyn-based quartet serve as an epic dialogue into the underrated current glamour scene, complete with boys who dress like girls, intense sexuality, dazzling diamonds, balls to the wall rock and roll and two emaciated fashion darlings that follow them on tour.

It’s a very different life than the majority of mainstream rock and one that subsequently catapulted them into being classified as a gay glam band, a title that not only undermined their talent, but limits them from the rest of the world.

“In New York a lot of the music papers there will be a music section and a gay section.  There was a while there where we would only be in the gay section,” the sexually ambiguous singer Justin Tranter said. 

NYC Band Semi Preious WeaponsIt’s the curse of the old stigma where you can’t be beautiful and smart or sexy and talented.  Semi Precious Weapons formed while Tranter, bassist Cole Whittle, guitarist Stevy Pyne and drummer Dan Crean were studying music in Boston.  Tranter and Crean were roommates and met the others later.  Though they are all professionally trained, their blatant sexuality has resulted in them being ill received by their homeland media.

“Americans like their music to be either total trash or to take itself way too seriously. You have to be MGMT or you can be Rihanna and you can’t be anything in between. With our band that is really fun and really glamorous and really pretty, but we still all went to music school and played our asses off.  They just don’t understand that,” Tranter said.

Canada, however, is a different story, which is why SPW regularly makes the trek to Toronto to feed the music fiends that love their rock and roll with the addition of risk and rhinestones. SPW aren’t afraid to write filthy music that, in a single song, can encapsulate both incredibly guitar solos and the glory of bedazzled stiletto boots. 

Songs like “Magnetic Baby” and “Jesus” are ridiculous catchy, vain and controversial, which is exactly what makes this band a favourite not only to the gay community, but to die-hard rockers, frat boys and everyone in between. 

Semi Precious Weapons“For me if there are 25 kids at each show there because they view me as a role model for gender issues, then great! I think its amazing that they are there with the hundreds of other people who want to party. The fact that both of those people can exist in the same show is one of my proudest things.  I’m helping them get through their gender issues, but I can also have 20-somethings who are just there to drink and get laid. It’s a beautiful combo,” Tranter said.

September marked the release of their first full-length We Love You and although the first single “Magnetic Baby” won’t be released until summer 09, it is available as a free download for Rock Band 2.  They’ve also taken giant leaps into the mainstream via MTV and will appear on two upcoming episodes of the Real World Brooklyn and an episode of MADE.

While they’re slowly making their mark conventionally, Tranter also has a SPW influenced jewelry line called Fetty.  Tranter’s mother worked as an engagement ring designer, so whenever he needed employment, Tranter would work in jewelry stores since he knew so much about the field thanks to her.

“I was buying for a jewelry store in New York and I knew some of the designers there and I asked them where I could go buy pieces to make gun and heart necklaces. Even though we never played a show, we had a logo.  They told me where to go and I made like 20 necklaces and we sold them all the first night.  I was like wow, I’m really onto something,” he said.

This lead to a full-fledged line that has three divisions: the affordable urban line, the middle-ground boutique line and the Barney’s royalty line made with diamonds and real gold.  Though there are talks of carrying the royalty line at Holts in Canada, nothing is confirmed so at this point all jewelry can only be ordered from the website. 

Interview With Semi Precious WeaponsSPW will be returning to Toronto in the spring as part of the Hell on Heels tour, though a Toronto date has not yet been announced. 

For more information on SPW, check out

To check out the Fetty line of guns, hearts and other fun jewelry, visit

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