MEET THE VON TRAMPS
March 27, 2020 By Jimmy Alvarez
2020 was supposed to be the year. The year many of us worked so hard at in 2019 to make something big happen. It seems that every New Year’s Day we cheer for January 1st and another chance for us to get it right. Sadly, over the last few weeks, 2020 has turned out to be something out of a SciFi movie or a Season 1 episode of the Walking Dead.
For the bands that are on the cusp of blowing up, this was the year they’ve worked all their lives to realize. You know, to make a splash, to be seen and to be heard on the big stage. That was the trajectory for the Minneapolis Alernative Rock quarter, The Von Tramps. This band is entertaining, they are great musicians and are simply electrifying. Their sonic vision engulfs them with their soulful upbeat Ramones-Blink 182-Madness-esque infused Alt-rock-ska-punk-funk sound; and their fans can’t get enough of them. Given their unique signature sound, we asked lead singer, Jenna Enemy, what Minneapolis band hits home for her? She said the Mats have always had a special place in her heart and she’s done them justice.
There are plenty of places throughout the country that can say they have a great music scene. Truth is, the Minneapolis music scene can go toe-to-toe with anyone-anywhere. The locals have supported their local sonic heroes like Atmosphere, Babes in Toyland, Soul Asylum, Semisonic, Information Society, Motion City Soundtrack, The Replacements, Vanity 6, The Time and Prince. Bottom line, the locals know a great band when they see one, and they’ll definitely let you know if you suck.
As for the Von Tramps, they were formed back in 2015. Over the years, they did it right; they’ve worked hard while paying their dues. As a result, they’ve made a name for themselves throughout the Midwest. With a string of recent hits, they are ready to take the world by storm. The band features the aforementioned guitarist/lead-vocalist Jenna Enemy, Chelsea Oxborough on guitar, Krissandra Anfinson on bass and Kieran O’Donoghue on drums.
The band is well-known for their cheeky lyrics, colorful onstage persona and wicked guitar licks. They have a great sense of humor, often laughing at themselves, which makes them one of us. They’ve even been described as the new wave of rude girl ska, whereas as Enemy has been described as the female Tom Delonge, less the nudity. With the formality of becoming a band out of the way, the band-mates got to work.
Following their 2017 EP FAST & LOSE, the next year they released, THE FUTURE IS FEMALE. That caught the ears of some notable broadcasters in the world of Alternative Rock. This album had a single, 14B, that propelled the band from MidWest favorites, to legit coast-to-coast ALT Rock Darlings.
It took a little time, but 14B gained the kind of traction that money just can’t buy. As a direct result of local Minneapolis media, the song got noticed on the national stage. Before you knew it, it was featured on Rodney Bingenheimer’s show on SiriusXM, and Orange County Alternative Rock juggernaut, TNN RADIO. The Music Gods were smiling down on the Von Tramps as these two broadcasters are the same ones that helped get The Interrupters noticed. Since then, The VON TRAMPS followed up their full length release with a concept EP entitled “SUN’S OUT: STRUNG OUT! Other songs that have exploded for them are L A and New Year’s Day.
So all is right in the world of the Von Tramp’s. 2020 was set to be the year that the World would get to know them. After all, thanks to the magic that is the information superhighway, their music is now being played from coast-to-coast AND around the world. So what is it about the band that endears them so much to their fans? There’s always something… something that makes a band special. Minneapolis knows the difference between good and great’… so where’s the rub?
The answer is very simple, they’re good down-to-earth people. They are very relatable. That, and they don’t take themselves too seriously. By virtue of that alone, that makes them uber-likable. There’s one other thing that’s part of their story. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to interview successful bands. One of my favorite interviews is always catching up with Butch Vig of Garbage. Butch is a very interesting Dude. He’s a MidWest guy from Wisconsin who’s never forgotten his roots. Butch often tells me the difference between being good and great at anything in life is the effort you put in. That, and the way you treat people. That reason right there is why The Von Tramps are as beloved as they are.
Let me explain: Not long ago, I did a radio interview with Jenna. Before we went on-air, she asked me if it was OK for her to mention a local bar back home. Typically artists rarely ask for permission, they say what they say. But Enemy was different… so I said sure; and asked her why? She said, “it’s because they’re my friends and they’ve always helped us; I just want to say something so they know I appreciate them.” AND there it was, that’s what Butch was talking about. That’s why this band has following they have, it’s because they’re real and they give a shit about people. That’s not something you can fake, and above all, they play really good music… looks Minneapolis got this one right.
That all being said, 2020 was going as planned, The Von Tramps were ready to hit the road with a few bands, and they even had a SXSW appearance lined-up, the world was about to Meet The Von Tramps.
The VON TRAMPS on Bandcamp
So what happened? Covid-19 (Coronavirus) happened. This event has taken over everyday life; and live music isn’t the main focus for anyone these days. It’s become a virtual nightmare for all of us. The focus for everyone these days is combating this disease. This epidemic took everything away, it’s literally a new world we live in.
For any band, being in the position the Von Tramps found themselves in was what every band on the planet strives for. You know, the opportunity to get to that next level. Sure, for any band losing a chance to do the gigs that were lined up could be disappointing and borderline devastating; but not for this band. Instead of being discouraged, they went to task to help the workers of SXSW as well as their own local community. That says a lot about a band, a person, and how they were brought up.
In the end, we may not have been able to check out this band the way they planned it out. The grand plan was intended for us to get to know them. Honestly, I think they way they’ve gone about living life the past few weeks by putting their efforts towards helping their brothers and sisters let us know who they are… who they really are.
I guess Cole Porter had it right. He said that our dreams are the backbone of our character, but it’s how we live out our dreams that determines our character.
Look out for The Von Tramps online, or when they eventually come play in your neck of the woods. The future looks very-very bright for them.