Semi Precious Weapons frontman recalls 18-month odyssey — and night ‘Edge of Glory’ was born — on MTV’s Gaga ‘After-Show.’
By James Montgomery
Earlier this month, in front of 55,000 fans in Mexico City, Lady Gaga finally put the Monster Ball to bed. It had been quite the ride — the tour lasted nearly 18 months, kicking off in November 2009, rolling through four continents and inspiring one over-the-top HBO special in the process — and, aside from Gaga herself, perhaps no one could testify to that better than the Semi Precious Weapons, who opened practically every show.
Of course, Semi Precious Weapons’ history with Lady Gaga goes back even further; she opened for them back in 2006, and they’ve remained fast friends ever since. So it was fitting that, at the conclusion of that final Monster Ball show, Gaga brought the band — and longtime friend Lady Starlight — back onstage to bask in the applause and share one final curtain call together.
It was a poignant moment for everyone involved, one that SPW frontman Justin Tranter recalled after the Thursday night premiere of “Lady Gaga: Inside the Outside,” during MTV’s “After-Show” live stream.
“We played over 200 shows with her, all over the world, and at the end, the very last show, she says [onstage], ‘This used to be a really small show that I did in New York City with my friends, when no one was watching, we just did it because we loved it,’ ” Tranter said. “And then she brought us up onstage in front of 55,000 people, and it was just … the craziest thing ever.
“A friend of mine was texting me because he saw the interview that Gaga just did where she talks about opening for us at the Knitting Factory, and he was just like, ‘I can’t believe this is all real,’ because he was there for that show and backstage for that show,” he continued. “And, you know, it was one of those moments in Mexico City, where I’m standing onstage, opening for her, getting 55,000 people to scream one of my best friend’s name over and over, after I’d just played them a bunch of songs. It’s surreal. The Monster Ball was … such an insanely magical experience and it’s really depressing that it’s over.”
And after spending almost 18 months on the road with Gaga, you’d be correct to assume that Tranter has a whole lot of memories like that one (most of which can’t be reprinted anywhere), but, recently, there’s one that keeps coming back to him: the night Gaga’s current single, “The Edge of Glory” was born. Because not only was it rather magical, but it also summed up everything that he loved about being on the Monster Ball in the first place.
“One of the things I keep remembering recently, just because ‘The Edge of Glory’ is everywhere now, is, I think we were in Sweden, and she was writing that song,” Tranter said. “We had just had three weeks off on tour, and … she had just written that song, and in our dressing room, through the wall, we could hear her singing it. And then she texted me and asked me to come in and listen to it. And then I had to go onstage, and when I came off she asked me to come back again, and we were being music geeks and going over chord-change options, and now the song is everywhere.
“So I think that’s an amazing example of the Monster Ball and how things really haven’t changed; it’s still us playing each other our songs, it’s still us hanging out,” he continued. “And to think that there’s 20,000 people in the audience waiting for us to go on while she’s writing this song, waiting for her to go on while she’s writing that song, that’s a moment I’ve been thinking of a lot recently.”