Local Music Spotlight: CorpoRAT Records signs Missoula’s pandemic-born Trans Future

By Julien A. Luebbers

For The Spokesman-Review

Local label CorpoRAT Records announced last week the signing of Trans Future, a self-described New Wave Soul and Roll group hailing from Missoula. The signing is a big step forward for CorpoRAT, its first group outside Spokane.

It signals a move toward more regional camaraderie in the music scene, the building of bridges between Spokane and the rest of the Upper Left. Trans Future is something of a unique group. Where a whole fleet of albums and EPs can be called “pandemic compositions,” there are not a lot of groups who are themselves properly the result of lockdown.

But Trans Future is exactly that: The group’s first meeting, first album and first show were conceived and executed during the pandemic. “All of us had other projects and bands that we were playing in, and COVID just kind of put a stop to it,” bassist Jason Ward said.

But in the mayhem, the four members found one another and sparing no time, “We masked up, socially distanced and just started getting down to business,” Ward said. It was certainly unexplored territory at the outset.

All of the band’s members are experienced musicians. But, oddly, the unorthodox circumstances proved conducive to work. Ward explained it was “beneficial for us kind of breaking down our insecurities or weirdness.”

“We felt relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company,” drummer Jesse Rockwood said. “We kind of just got used to it. It was like our group therapy session during the hard times.”

“It allowed us to work through all our songs and ideas really thoroughly and take our time with all of it because there wasn’t a time frame that we were working on,” guitarist Chris Knudson added.

The songwriting and jamming were so successful that the group booked into a local recording studio and laid down an album. “Magic started happening,” Ward said. “It’s like we went out looking for a quarter and we found 100 bucks.”

With an album recorded, the band began spreading the word and promoting their music. It was around this time that CorpoRAT entered the scene.

The group responded to a post from the label about CorpoRAT’s interest in expanding their roster. One thing led to another, and soon enough CorpoRAT’s Kris Martin was in talks with the band.

The driving force in the decision was, of course, Trans Future’s music. Their debut single for the label, “Just Like Me,” is out Friday on all platforms.

“Just Like Me” is a vibrant, driven track. Its tight and catchy drums hold up the guitar riff and slick bassline. Vocalist Kateena Bell brings a gift of a voice to the track, bringing out the rockier side of the composition and adding a little bit of attitude.

It’s a wonderful first track, a great way to land in Spokane. As Knudson put it, “It’s fun, it’s dance-y, It’s catchy.”

Of the album, which does not have a release date yet, the band said to expect a broad palette of sounds. “Every song has its own voice, but all the songs work really well together,” Knudson said.

It might be a while before the full release, but Trans Future has another announcement to tide fans over: a concert in Spokane on Oct. 29 at the Big Dipper. They’ll be performing alongside the Dilrods and labelmates Itchy Kitty.

It’s a cross-regional collaboration, part of Trans Future’s goal in joining a Spokane label. “A big thing was to bridge between Spokane and Missoula,” Ward said. This concert, this album, these are just the first steps. “We are just really honored and truly humbled for how this is rolling out,” Ward said.

Stream “Just Like Me” on all platforms on Friday, and follow the band on Instagram at @TransFutureGram for music and event updates.

Julien A. Luebbers can be reached at [email protected].