I recently had the chance to chat with frontman and guitarist Pat DeFrancisci from a band called Tru, located in New Jersey. The group has recently released an EP called Growing Pains that reminded me a lot of a mix between Weezer’s instrumentation and Stone Temple Pilots’ vocal-approach. In this interview, Pat discusses their approach to songwriting, their key influences, and the story behind the creation of the EP.
Thank you for this opportunity to interview you this evening. Can you tell me a little bit about how you and the rest of the band met?
I’d say it was probably the Fall of 2016, and I had just recently gone through aa break-up and I was at a wedding with a friend of mine and I told him about all these songs I had written and I was looking for other people to kind of just flesh them out. So Keith, the other guitar player, he was at the wedding with me as well and asked him if he wanted to kind of jam and work on these songs together. And now, one of my old bands was not really doing anything together anymore and he (Keith) was in some other stuff but I always respected him as a songwriter and I really wanted him to work with me on these songs, and really do something with it. So, we got together and wrote the demos, did that whole thing and brought in our drummer Steve who I had played in a band with previously for about six years, and I was really always in lock-step with him whenever we were playing, so I brought him in to record the demos since he was already working 2 or 3 other bands at that time and I devised this plan to kind of just ask him to do the demos in hopes that he would like them enough to join us, and that’s exactly what happened. It really worked out in my favor, too.
So, we got him involved and then Cindy, our bass player, we had always been in kind of “adjacent” bands together for a couple years, so I was always really good friends with her and her girlfriend, Ana, and she helped us book shows at a DIY-venue in New Jersey called the Meat Locker. She initially played guitar, but I knew that she was really talented so I asked her if she would give it a shot playing bass. Then, we kind of got everything together and got the first EP set and really hit the ground running.
Sounds great! How long have you been together as a band in this current unit?
This has pretty much been the group for the past year and half or so.
Cool, tell me a little bit about where you came up with the band name, and what it means to you guys?
The band name, was kind of my idea and I wanted something that I could really “brand” around and I was very into the idea of the name aesthetically and kind of how it fits in with merch styles and vibes around the band. I had a couple names that I rolled around with, but this one just stuck the best. Pretty much since it’s just nice and short. However, one thing I did not take into consideration is that if people try and google us (the band) they are definitely not going to find us. There’s about six rappers with “Tru” as part of their name, also 2 Chainz has a record label called “Tru Music” and I think Outlaw just announced a record that’s actually called “Tru.” So, I didn’t really think that one through too much <Laughs> But otherwise, I just wanted something kind of simple that was also simultaneously aesthetically appealing.
Yeah, I don’t if you also know of the scenario of the synth-pop band called CHVRCHES where they put the “V” in there so that they would show up in Google.
Yeah, haha, exactly. Maybe I should change that last “U” to a “V.”
What are your most immediate musical influences, and how would you describe your sound?
Um, most immediately, we’re all big fans of Dinosaur Jr. and Weezer. Weezer, in particular, is aa band that I grew up listening to and I would learn all of their songs when I first picked up my guitar, when I was about 15 years old. So, they were one group early on that I felt had super-poppy hooks but also very garage-y ad grunge-y type vibes and instrumentation. And, Dinosaur Jr. is a band I got into more so in college, and I always say to people that my goal for this band is to be the loudest and catchiest band you will ever hear, so I want to sing songs that get stuck in your head but also I want, when you’re listening to them, to blow your eardrums out with those hooks. I always try to write “big” sounding songs with really catchy parts to them. As far as describing our sound, I don’t know, I’m always really bad at this…
Well, when I first listened to your EP, it immediately reminded me of Weezer’s instrumentation and the vocals were almost a STP-esque approach. That’s kind of how I would describe you guys.
Oh nice! Yeah, I’m really influenced by all of those type of 90’s bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and those bands that are almost everyone’s kind of starting point of influences, especially when you start actually playing in a band. But yeah, 90’s are always a big influence to what we are doing right now.
So, describe your songwriting process that went into recording this EP.
This EP, really, is a very collaborative effort and everyone will always bring together an idea or part for a song and say, “hey guys, what do you think?” Then we’ll all give our two cents and Steve will wonder, how are we going to fill out the beat for this, or how will this translate for this part? Then, Cindy will come in and do her thing and for me its been one of the easier writing processes I’ve ever had in any project I‘ve been a part of. Especially since we are all just kind of operating on the same page, without even really needing to state why we feel a certain way. So overall, it’s a really great and collaborative effort.
Great! What tours have you done, or plan to do, in support of Growing Pains?
Well, we just got done with the record release weekend, where we started in New Jersey on Friday. Then we went up to Maine and played in this old type of movie theater place, which was really awesome and we met a ton of great people there. Then on our way back from Maine, we had a Philly show fall thru, but everyone got a hold of their contacts and we were still able to play a great basement show that weekend at UPenn. Now, we are kind of just regrouping a bit and planning out our next move, whether it be a full-length LP or another EP. We’re always on the lookout for another band to share a bill with or do a split EP with, but we really want to plan out the next couple months for us.
You told me a little but before about your promotion strategy for this EP. Can you elaborate on your plans for promoting this release and how you market yourselves?
With any release, we really try and play around with a bunch of merch designs and see what fits best for us. But for us, we really want people to see our logo in as many places as possible and immediately recognize us. So, we really brand a lot of our merchandise with that particular logo and we worked with a really great graphic design artist named, Adrianne Paerels, who did our cover art. So, we really tried to tailor the vibe around that art and make sure the colors are right and all those things that go along with branding a new project. We’re going to try and get in front of as many people as possible and see what goes from there.
Tell me why you chose to name the EP Growing Pains, and what was one of your more memorable growing pains as a person?
Growing Pains kind of came together when we were talking about what all of these songs mean to us, and I wrote the lyrics to the last song on there called “Peace of Mind” where the whole idea around where my life was at, and how I wasn’t really happy about how the music thing was going with my previous band and I was trying to figure out what went wrong. I really felt like these themes of growing up, going to school, getting a job, paying bills, etc. I thought those kind of things would be over and done with by the time I was 30. So, really I was having those issues coming to terms with where I “should” be and why I wasn’t there yet. So I coupled that with some of the things that Keith was writing about and one of the songs he wrote was about all these every day things that can really bring you down, yet you can grow past them and grow from them, and just really get your stuff together.
Thank you for sharing that. Is there one artist, either past or present that you feel would be the ideal fit for you to tour with?
I would really love to, with someone obviously like Dinosaur Jr. would be a fucking dream, of course. Also, another artist I really respect is Beach Fossils, I feel would be a great fit for us to learn from. From the past, I’d say someone like Scott Weiland’s STP would be sick…
How would you describe your live show?
I would say its definitely high-energy, there’s a lot of dancing, and lots of singing along and tons of good times all around. When we play, we are always trying to have a good time with everyone who comes to watch us and we’re trying to have fun with them. That’s the whole reason why we do this. It’s not work anymore, it’s just…having good times with my best friends and if people want to share that with us too then I’d love it.
Any future plans or teasers you would like to share with your audience at this time?
Keep a look out for us on the road soon, as we’ll likely be doing another North-East trip again. We’re really getting into a good groove with our writing and hope to get something new out there for everyone very soon.
Thanks, Pat for your time and I wish you the best of luck in your music career. I hope we can cross paths again sometime in the near future!
Absolutely, Adam, thanks so much for the interview and for taking the time to chat with me about our music.
Tru recently released a music video for “The Graduate.”