This is the genre description that Shelton, CT-based band TRAG goes by these days, and at least lead-vocalist Nora Tragianese takes time to bear this out for me: “Mark [Tragianese] is the progressive, and also the alternative–I’m semi-alternative, but I’m big on the eighties, so kind of throw that all together in a blender, and that’s what we sound like. He brings the progressive sensibility, and I bring my gigantic choruses and multi-layered sequences.”
If you’ve never seen them (or just footage of them), TRAG are a band that unfortunately exist in an environment where original bands either have to become cover bands or go somewhere else to be able to co-exist with society–TRAG has opted to stay in their home base and tough out their territory by pushing their brand of A.P.E. style originals and interspersing that with their choice of covers by Rush, The Police and The Pretenders.
The Moment (Music video; 2011)
Their 3rd CD Catch the Storm (and their 2nd with Nora T.) is a concept album with linked-together songs in the vein of Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues. Among the tracks is “Struggle”, a tune that was originally cut during the early years of the band. “That’s how TRAG got formed”, explains drummer Mark Tragianese, “Back in ’95, after about 3 go’s towards the music industry–Kinetic Sect, Alterior Motive and finally a band called Theravada–I said “I’m going to retire”, and then Steve Clarke, who produced all our other albums, said to me ‘Oh no you’re not! Get your butt in the studio and get some studio cats and your brothers or whatever, and work on material!’, and I wrote that with my brother Donald, who actually sang [on the demo]. That made it on SPIN Magazine’s national distribution [CD]. Aimee Mann’s on that same CD. There was about 30 bands that were on it, and it was distributed with 100,000 copies.”
Struggle (Lily’s Pad, New Haven, CT Nov 2010; I’m actually playing keyboard bass at this gig with them)
Another tune, the swing-like “No Wine, No Women, No Song” was partially written on the way back from a night in NYC on the train. According to Nora, “[Mark] always comes up with things in his head and he sings them to me, and then I’m racing to the keyboard and trying to figure out where he is. From there, he told me what the idea was–it’s a swing song and all this stuff. He wrote out all these words, but then we were trying to rework them so that they’re in the right pentameter. Then, we were coming home on the subway, and all of a sudden I had all these words come into my head, and I had no paper! I had one of those old People’s Bank checkbook savings and deposit books–That was the only tiny paper book that I had! All those words came into my head and they basically mirrored what he wanted to say, but I put it in rhyme and prose, and it’s like ‘I can’t stop writing’!”
TRAG continues to work on new material and are always performing on the CT circuit as well as other parts of New England. They have been performing at New Hampshire’s annual Keene Festival, and at this year’s fest they even had the golden opportunity to play on the main stage.
Be sure to catch them if you are in the area.
On The Way Down (Music video; 2008)