The Traditional’s instrument bruising, microphone slaying energy is a live wire of vulnerability and power. The Buffalo band’s supercharged aesthetic is both honest and uncompromising. With their latest record, How To Live Without Blood, The Traditional – Anthony Musior, Michael Bienias, Jon Coric – create a mosaic of geography, regret, sincerity, and resilience. It’s a cocktail of genuine emotion that makes the band’s album a textural touchstone of a time and place. We caught up with lead singer Anthony Musior to talk about hockey, lyric writing, and a particular t-shirt problem I have with the band.
Robert Patrick: When interviewing musicians, I’ve heard a litany of different things about Spotify, ranging from the platform being structurally unsound to the application being great for exposure. Where do you fall on the spectrum?
Anthony Musior: I really feel like Spotify is a cool platform. I like that I can search (almost) any band and be able to listen to their music just like that. For us, Spotify is little tough though. Having a name like the Traditional makes life hard when you’re searching for us because you get a million different things that come up. There’s like traditional Christmas music, traditional African drum music, all kinds of shit. Overall I give it a B+.
Your album “How To Live Without Blood” was released on vinyl. How has the reemergence of physical media changed the climate for bands?
Oh man. I love vinyl. I think it’s really helped bands with spreading their music because it’s so collectible. I know if I see a band kill it live and they have vinyl, I always try to pick it up. All of these new colors, and the way people do their album inserts, it just makes physical music interesting again.
You love hockey. You’re from Buffalo. When are we going to get a song about how sick Jack Eichel is?
I do. I am. I can’t. [laughs] I don’t think I could capture just how strongly I feel about him and the boys. Maybe I’ll try to write a fight song for them to play when we score but, really, Let Me Clear My Throat was a brilliant decision by the fans so I probably won’t try to mess with it.
Many of the band’s lyrics are confessional, boldly vulnerable, and without reservation. What, in your mind, makes a good lyric?
When I hear lyrics I just really want to feel what is being sung. I don’t care if it’s sweet and cute or sad and bitter, I just want to feel like you mean what you’re saying. As a singer, that’s the first thing I listen for. I’ve been turned off to so many bands because I don’t believe what their singer is saying.
You lived in California for a short while, and you mention it on the LP. What did your time here mean, and how did it alter the fabric of your music?
I loved my time in California. I was young, dumb, broke, and finding myself. I wouldn’t trade any of those times for the world. I mention it in songs because it was definitely a turning point in my life where I thought, “Fuck it, I can make this work!” and then I couldn’t. I guess because our songs are so personal, it comes up in songs when I’m thinking about that and what was happening in my life while I was there.
When are you guys going to sell shirts that aren’t small, Bonnaroo extra small, and Rick Moranis small? The only people that can fit into these shirts are, like, Father John Misty after a week of being stuck in the Mojave desert.
[laughs] You’re going to have to take that one up with our label.
The band is frequently active on social media. How has that particular forum changed things for musicians, and is it now a necessity for artists?
I think it’s definitely a necessity. It gives artists a way to directly reach fans who are interested in what they are doing. I think it’s silly to waste something that makes you and your music so easily accessible. It has also given musicians a way to network. I use social media to book tours, find new bands to play with in other cities, or even just listen to their music. In my opinion it just has to be used.
If you’re to introduce your band to a first time listener, which song would you choose, and why?
I would have to say My Brother Is The Sea. I think that song really give you a good idea of what our band sounds like and what our lyric content is all about. It’s also the most personal to me.
What’s something that your band mates don’t know about you that you can reveal here?
[laughs] It’s hard to keep something from dudes you live in a van with for long periods of time… Okay, I’ve seen Pee Wee’s Big Adventure more times that I can count.
Finally, who are some vocalists that you admired when growing up?
I was super into Jesse Lacey of Brand New on Your Favorite Weapon, Kevin Devine on Make The Clocks Move, and everything that Richard Edwards was doing with Margot and The Nuclear So and So’s. I was just an angsty teen.