Trü: Making Happy Music for Sad People
By Timothy Herrick
A Montclair-based quartet, Trü began as a duo when Pat DeFrancisci (guitar/vocals) and Keith Williams (guitar/vocals) met at a mutual friend’s wedding in 2015 and found themselves talking about music, and writing songs together. Both were in bands, but were seeking new musical opportunities. Pat’s girlfriend had just broken up with him, and he wanted a new musical outlet to help turn his new heartache into catchy pop songs. The duo soon added Cindy Ward (bass/vocals) and Steve Cerri (drums) and released a self-titled EP (they are currently completing a new album, Growing Pains) and began gigging in the New Jersey area – playing everywhere from people’s basements to the Meat Locker, the legendary rock club in Montclair. While Pat’s romantic lyrics may have dwelled on the sadder affairs of the heart, they’re accompanied by catchy pop hooks and melodic guitars. With a growing regional following, Trü was picked to open for Twin Peaks on Friday 23rd (The show also features The Districts). The Jersey City gig will be by far the largest gig this band has played. The members of Trü to come to White Eagle Hall for a sit-down interview to find out what goes into to making their music and how they feel about the upcoming show, among other things.
Timothy: What is your favorite color and why?
Pat: My favorite color is blue, and honestly it’s because I think it’s because I really liked the Blue Power Ranger as a kid. He had glasses like me, so I just stuck with blue for the rest of my life.
Keith: Good answer.
Timothy: What about you guys?
Cindy: Mine is green.
Cindy: I don’t know. It’s a relaxing color. My birthday is in spring time, so… maybe Saint Patty’s reference there, I don’t know
Timothy: So you’re an Aries.
Cindy: Yes I am, we have the same birthday actually.
Pat: We’re planning another birthday show this year, and that’s like an every year thing.
Timothy: And that birthday might be?
Cindy: March 22.
Keith: I like sea foam green, only because that’s my favorite color guitar. That is the only reason.
Timothy: Complete this sentence, before the show I must always:
Pat: Drink a beer.
Cindy: Use the bathroom.
Timothy: Any pre show rituals?
Cindy: No, we just jump on stage and go.
Timothy: How about you Keith.
Keith: Definitely the bathroom, definitely tune. I used to take my shoes off, but that doesn’t work all the time, a lot of grimy floors.
Timothy: Complete this sentence, after a show I must always…
Pat: I try and make sure I have conversations with people. Yeah, I go to the merch table, talk to people, something I typically like to say is that, hey, if you want to talk about music, come by the merch table and talk to me. We do this because we love music. I also do things, like, on our Instagram story every Friday, which is New Music Friday now, I just post up stuff that I’m listening to that day, and I encourage people to DM me back.
Cindy: I always, talk to people, the other bands playing.
Steve: Go to the bar… I also have to pack up too, that’s a big one for me.
Keith: Get your stuff it’s a given.
Timothy: Are you afraid that at most of the places you play, people might steal your stuff?
Keith: No, because most of the time I’m afraid I might forget it, but also, yeah, people will take your stuff. Free stuff is hard to pass up.
Timothy: What genre would you categorize Trü’s music?
Pat: I would say we’re just kind of an alternative rock, indie rock band. Without really dicing it up and getting too specific, but I would say just general, catchy indie rock.
Timothy: Is it happy music for sad people? Your Facebook page says “sad music for sad people. “
Keith: I can’t remember which was the first one.
Pat: I think it was… oh, we’re printing it on the shirts… it’s Happy Music for Sad People.
Timothy: What struck me so much about your music is great guitar playing, very melodic songs with poppy hooks. Why is that sad?
Pat: The subject matter. There were some things I explored kind of lyrically in this new record about a time that I… it was only a couple of months ago, but I was having trouble kind of seeing myself in as an adult. I was a (fulltime) musician for a long time, I toured… that didn’t really go anywhere so kind of where does it go from there? So, I really took a kind of deep dive into where I was feeling through that, wrote some songs about it, wrote some songs about some shitty breakups.
Timothy: Your songs are getting more personal?
Pat: Yeah. I’d say so. I’d say they’ll be less about breakups and more about, you know, adult things. I’m turning 30 in March. I have a full time job.
Kevin: It’s transitional.
Pat: Transitioning into complete adulthood, needing to be responsible for everything.
Keith: It is easier to write a song about break ups. The next EP we’re doing is called Growing Pains, which is… like the last EP there’s a song, Kristi, which is a happy, upbeat, lovey-dovey song, there’s Hand in Hand, no it’s not sad, is it?
Pat: That’s actually a happy song but it sounds sad.
Keith: I feel that the content of actually getting out of that kiddy stage is a little more expansive. There’s a lot more stuff going on, you really can’t lean on adolescent angst and you kind of have to figure out what your place in the world is going to be, it’s almost a second adolescence.
Timothy: Does that mean Trü is going to have a shorter life span as you become a ‘True Adult’ and put away childish things?
Pat: Well, I hope not. Music has always been the thing that’s there for me when I’m really feeling down. Writing music has always been very therapeutic. So regardless if this turns into something big that we could tour all around and sustain our adult lives with or if we just play shows in New Jersey for our friends and stuff, I’m cool with both.
Timothy: Are your songs an antidote to sadness or are they an expression of sadness?
Pat: I would say they are an expression of sadness but they can be an antidote as well, because I feel that sometimes when you really see eye to eye with a song, when you relate to it, that kind of helps you kind of take that feeling of loneliness out there and you kind of see people having the same kind of issues as you do. Kind of in a ways turns itself into its own antidote.
Timothy: When did you first have your heart broken?
Pat: First time…
Keith: Now you have to relive it dude.
Pat: Right, I don’t really have a specific (long pause)… a while ago I was with somebody and we were about a week away from signing a lease and moving in together and she said it wasn’t really working and actually that’s where the first song for this band came. I just put that together in my head.
Steve: I was about to say that was not long before this whole Trü thing came up.
Timothy: Where does your name come from?
Pat: I thought of Trü because I thought of all the great design things I can do with a three letter word, merch wise and stuff. I’m very into that. My girlfriend is a really talented graphic designer, so she is pretty much our creative director, and she takes my idea and makes them real, and she’s super confident in creating stuff.
Timothy: She hasn’t broken your heart yet.
Pat: No… and hopefully won’t.
Keith: This could happen too.
Timothy: At least not until you write the new record.
Steve: Exactly. We need her to so we can write a new record.
Timothy: When I was researching the band, all these products and listings came up with the same name. What is the weirdest thing or case of mistaken identity that has happened with your name?
Pat: Bagel Shops.
Timothy: Bagel Shops?
Pat: Lot of things, a line of candles, there’s a bagel shop in Little Falls New Jersey.
Steve: Wasn’t there someone got the wrong thumbnail on Spotify? It was our band and our music
Pat: Oh yeah, Two Chainz has a song, True. He’s a hip hop artist, but it’s True, T-R-U-E. I was trying to remember the Spotify thing, I really liked Two Chainz, but I didn’t even realize it, so I said, yeah, F*** it. There’s so much other stuff.
Keith: In the group chat we have there’s another message every couple of days, like True For Beer.
Timothy: Does this make you want to change the name?
Pat: Our SEO is not the best. We like the name. We kind of branded it with the heart and logo and whatnot, and we are kind of putting that on everything.
Keith: It would feel weird to try and change it now.
Pat: One of my most loathed and hated parts of being in a band is trying to figure out a name because I kind of think they all suck.
Timothy: What records did you listen to growing up?
Steve: I had an uncle who taught me how to use the record player when I was really young. I was really young, so I would listen to… I guess the ones that stand out the most would be Dark Side of the Moon, and I guess Allman Brothers Live at The Fillmore. I remember listening to those records for hours, over and over again and a few Led Zeppelin records that our Uncle gave us… but you know, I can’t give you one record.
Pat: The most formative ones is definitely the Beach Boys, my parents were really big, big Beach Boy fans. And I latched on to that pretty quick,. I was just into the melodies and the whole thing, and I also come from an Italian American family from Jersey, so Frank Sinatra stuff was always being played, and guys like Dean Martin, so I always really enjoyed those records. Actually with Trü I kind of revisited my kind of obsession with the Beach Boys. I actually took my parents to see Brian Wilson when he was doing Pet Sounds. That actually just happened a couple of months ago, but I would definitely say the Beach Boys would be my number one.
Cindy: All that played in my house was the Beatles and Bon Jovi . So didn’t really have a lot to choose from there.
Timothy: Beatles or a Bon Jovi record, which would you play right now?
Cindy: Bon Jovi. Yeah, I’m with my mom on that one.
Keith: Black Sabbath, my dad had a bunch of Black Sabbath records, and if I had to pick one, Black Sabbath 4.
Timothy: What was the first record you bought?
Cindy: I know mine.
Kevin: What Hits!?, by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it was a compilation thing.
Timothy: How old?
Keith: 11, probably 10 or 11.
Cindy: Spice Girls.
Timothy: How old?
Cindy: Eight maybe.
Pat: It wasn’t the first record I bought, but I was at Best Buy with my family once, and they had a whole stack of CDs that they were getting and I really wanted the Eminem Marshall Mathers record as well as Pennywise Land of the Free and they both were labeled ‘Explicit Content,’ so I snuck them in the stack of my parent’s CDs and they paid for it and I grabbed it. So I didn’t technically buy it but that was the first music I acquired on my own.
Steve: Minor Threat, Complete Discography that I bought at Sam Goody. I had to cross route 46 for it, I was either nine or ten years old. Still one of my favorite records.
Timothy: Sam Goody is long gone.
Steve: I wanted a job there so bad, but they closed it before I turned 16. They wouldn’t hire me until I turned 16.
Timothy: Cindy, how does it feel to be the only woman in the band?
Cindy: They’re all just wonderful people and I feel that we work together so well I don’t know how it happened, but it’s like the perfect group of humans. I’ve never been in a band where I’m the only girl I guess, so it was different, but it didn’t feel, like, wrong or anything like that. I really enjoy it.
Timothy: I want to go back to the music and your song writing, there seems to be a real focus on melody. How important is melody when you’re writing a song?
Pat: It’s very important to me, I feel that I focus more on the hook and when I feel it’s appealing when you hear it, and then I write the lyrics. I’m still really getting used to writing lyrics on paper and getting my thoughts together and making sure it really sounds good and still serves the song. I still feel my strength is melody and trying to make things catchy and still sound all around good.
Timothy: Are you ready to play White Eagle Hall?
Pat: It is a show like any other night and hopefully they invite us back.
Timothy: You don’t feel intimated?
Pat: No. This is basically the first sold out show we ever played, we might have played other shows, but that was maybe 100 people.
Timothy: It will be eight times that. [White Eagle Hall has a capacity of approximately 800]
Pat: Yeah, no… we’re just ready to bring what we got.
Timothy: You guys feel the same way?
Keith: We’re good. I always get anxious. Hitting notes is one thing, but when there’s 800 people there, it’s another thing.
Timothy: It must be exciting for people to hear you play on this sound system, as opposed to some of the bars you play.
Steve: I’m looking forward to that, being able to hear each other.
Pat: We play a lot of basements, so the sound quality isn’t the best.
Steve: If I can’t hear Keith or I can’t hear Cindy or I can’t hear Pat, it really throws me off. But we play a lot, and before the show I get nervous, but then after it’s like, I got worked up for nothing. But we’ll see, we still haven’t played the show.
Timothy: Last question – what was the last song you hear today – you all drove here, so you must have had the radio on?
Pat: I was actually listening to a Doctor Dog record. I had this hook stuck in my head and I couldn’t figure out what it was and I could swear it was one of their records, and it was, but it took like three albums to figure it out.
Steve: I was actually listening to talk radio, but at work, I was listening to James Booker. I don’t remember the last song, but I was listening to James Booker.
Cindy: I actually didn’t get to listen to music today, believe it or not. I listened to the radio, and I listen to the morning show in the morning, but nothing at work and I was on the phone on the way home, I don’t have anything good.
Timothy: Okay, so maybe not today, but what was the last song you remember hearing that you did not play on purpose.
Cindy: Paramore, when we (the band) went to the coffee shop together.
Keith: Spanish Bombs by the Clash.
See Trü opening for Twin Peaks (The Districts is also the bill)/Friday Feb. 23/ Doors: 7:00/ Show: 8:00.
Find out more about Trü: https://ohhhhtru.bandcamp.com