From The Desk Of Trans Am: “Silicon Valley”

After 24 years and 10 albums, we’re still trying to figure out Trans Am. A statement of misguided complication or exaggeration? Maybe. But the trio—guitarist Phil Manley, bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Nathan Means, drummer Sebastian Thomson—hasn’t exactly made comprehension easy considering its non-linear progression, lack of canned press statements and refusal to submit to expectation. Trans Am’s throw-at-a-dartboard-and-see-what-sticks approach notwithstanding, the band finds itself with a 10th album in its laps. Volume X (Thrill Jockey) leans toward the streamlined sensibility of 2007’s Sex Change, snidely and playfully existing somewhere between krautrock, post-rock, electro-rock, punk rock and other prefix-rock. Trans Am will be guest editing all week. Read our new feature on them.


Manley: For weeks I’ve been scoffing at billboards and large ads on the sides of MUNI buses for a new TV series entitled Silicon Valley. Was this an attempt at a TV series based on the tedious Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson Google movie The Internship? (My wife and I tried to watch The Internship, but after watching the Google bus driving the 101 for the third time, it felt more like we were watching a local traffic report than a comedy.) Finally, someone hipped me to an important fact about this Silicon Valley show. It’s from the mind of Mike Judge. I immediately watched the pilot, and I’ve been watching every subsequent episode as it airs live. 

Think of this like and updated Office Space, which takes place in Palo Alto instead of Texas. The premise is simple: Four dudes live in an “incubator” (a suburban home in Palo Alto), where they program code for their start-up company. They wind up in a situation where two billionaires both want to buy the company. The main programmer decides not to sell out, but instead to partner with one of the billionaires to build the company together. The hapless coder finds himself as a CEO and potential billionaire, but clearly is out of his league. Hilarity ensues.

This target is so large and wide, that it’s hard to miss, but The Internship proved that it’s not a sure bet. Leave it to Mike Judge to hit the nail on the head.