Trans Am are loosely associated with the mid-'90s post-rock scene centered around Tortoise, Ui, Labradford, Windy & Carl, etc., and the Thrill Jockey, Kranky, UHF and Southern labels, among others. Although a vast distance separates Trans Am's albums, all of them are concerned with an extreme, somewhat humorous reorientation of the clich?s and conventions of rock music, primarily through either technical (exaggerated displays of skill) or instrumental (electronics, effects) deviation.
The group formed in 1990 in Washington, D.C., though they didn't begin seriously recording until after its members finished college in 1995. The members of the band are: Philip Manley (guitar, bass, keyboard, voice), Nathan Means (bass, keys, voice), and Sebastian Thomson (drums, guitar, bass, keys, voice). Their self-titled debut, on the Chicago-based Thrill Jockey label, was recorded after just a few rehearsals back together, and contained instrumental, largely improvised versions of simple rock-oriented figures based loosely on '70s and '80s popular and progressive bands such as Boston, Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Yes. Produced by Tortoise's John McEntire at Chicago's Idful Studios, the album was instantly lauded as an example of "post-rock", in turn leading to a short live tour as Tortoise's opening act.
The group returned in the fall of 1996 with a self-titled EP of somewhat retro electro-funk experiments (released by Happy Go Lucky) that brought to the fore an affection for electronics previously reserved either for between-time studio distraction or the brief interludes separating the meatier segments of their debut. With 1997's "Surrender to the Night", however, Trans Am expanded that approach to album length, with tributes to Kraftwerk, Hashim, Can and New Order dominating, and only a few recognizable 'rock' songs included. Also signaling a change in focus was the expanded role electronics would play in their live performances; where earlier incarnations of the group included noodly Casio interludes that never grew beyond sideshow, "Surrender To The Night"'s more electronics-heavy material meant more of the stage space was given over to analog machines, trigger devices and MIDI-wired beatboxes.
Trans Am's inclusion on the Mille Plateaux label's double-CD compilation "In Memoriam Gilles Deleuze" (alongside Cristian Vogel, Beequeen, Mike Ink and Atom Heart, as well as labelmates Rome and Oval) also helped introduce the band to European audiences, where the group has found similar popularity as such electronic/acoustic hybrids as Flying Saucer Attack and Stereolab. A fourth album, "Futureworld", followed in 1999, and a year later the group returned with its most expansive album yet, "Red Line", recorded in the band's own National Recording Studio. In 2002, a cool-handed Trans Am released "T.A." -- another foray into late-'80s/early-'90s electro-rock. Their follow up was 2004's "Liberation", a politically driven concept album.
Another band, called Trans Am, is from Germany. At the end of '80s they played thrash-heavy metal. The band was formed in 1985. They had three albums, called "Born To Boogie" (1987), "Fasten Seatbelts" (1989) and "Unlimited" (1990).