Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Transoms - The Weather is Here... Wish You Were Beautiful

I used to tell people I named my band “The Transoms” because “we’re like the Doors, but higher.”

I simply present that here for historical documentation purposes.

After a few lineup changes, where I was the sole remaining original Transom, we settled on Ron Garcia on drums and Sean Markey on bass. I played guitar and sang.

Ron, Sean and John. We rhymed. It was almost too perfect.

Except that Ron wanted very little to do with the band. After the first drummer, Jeremy, vanished from the face of the earth, Ron filled in for a few shows, making it quite obvious that he wasn’t interested in being my full-time drummer. With almost weekly cajoling, he played every show thereafter for two years.

Well... every show except for that one where I played drums and sang, while a superfan from my dorm, who happened to already know all our songs, played lead guitar. That show was terrible. Like, really bad. I’m no Phil Collins, and Phil Collins fucking sucks.

Our CD, The Weather is Here... Wish You Were Beautiful was recorded in summer 1999, over the course of one sweaty week in Ron’s house on Bulla Road. Sean couldn’t make it out from Springfield, Mass. for the session, so I played bass, in addition to guitar and vocals. Ron, still doing his damnedest to not actually be in the band, only played drums on a handful of tracks. I talked Doug McEachern into playing on the rest. I remember the idea piqued his interest, because he’d never been asked to be a “session drummer” before.

But anyway, 15 songs. All of them went on the CD. A friend suggested the album’s title, but it was only after the cover was printed that I learned it was a fucking Jimmy Buffett song. You got me.

The Transoms’ CD was reviewed twice, as far as I know. The student newspaper The Observer raved about it. Five out of five shamrocks. It began, “In the long tradition of incredibly talented Notre Dame campus bands, the Transoms have joined the ranks of the elite with their first album the weather is here... ...wish you were beautiful."

That’s right -- the elite. But read that review and one thing is for sure: The guy didn’t spend a whole lot of time composing it.

Case in point: “‘Cosmetic Surgery’ is one of the best tracks on the album, with its great musical transitions.”

Yeah, that’s right. Motherfuckin’ musical transitions. That’s going on my resume starting tomorrow.

Even better, the review’s headline, “Music of The Transoms is Awesome,” was a total mistake. Turns out, the page designer plugged in a dummy headline to determine the font size, but never returned to fix it.

The South Bend Tribune writer spent a little more time with the album, but it baffled me to no end that he compared our “rough-hewn sound” to “early Who and Joe Jackson.”

Joe who?

Yeah, that’s right. I had no idea who Joe Jackson was at the time. Oh, you mean that guy who wrote “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” That guy? Great.

My favorite line from that review was when the author said the CD was “seven to 10 minutes too long.”

Touché, my good man. Touché.

Track commentary:
1. When We Were Cool - The guitar solo was quite challenging, and I think I nearly ruined a friendship by practicing it for an hour straight while my roommate tried to nap.
2. Cosmetic Surgery - I wrote that in high school, but reinvented it with a guitar solo for the Transoms.
3. Anywhere to Be - Written in Alumni Hall. One of the proudest moments in my life was when The Butterfly Effect wove part of this into one of their songs at their last show ever.
4. Story in Past Tense - 3/4 time.
5. Poor Diction - About as punk as we got.
6. Maroon & Blue - This was about a girl I was trying to woo, if you can believe it. Not surprisingly, she was alternately puzzled and turned off by it.
7. How Little Feels - A guy in my dorm heard me fucking around with the main riff and announced that it captured “the way I feel.” His name: Scott Little. Therefore, this song is How Little Feels.
8. Make it Dance - Written as a reaction to one of Doug McEachern’s essays in his ‘zine, “A Boy & His.” Then he ended up playing drums on it.
9. Sharing Kisses - Totally not as emo as the title suggests. False start intro was a nod to the fact that it took like 12 takes to get it on tape.
10. The (New) New Nathan Detroits - An acoustic cover of my favorite Braid song, but significantly changed.
11. Butter Slippery - Another song about a girl. This one was also misunderstood. I abandoned songs about girls after this.
12. Throwing it All - There was a guitar-virtuoso guy on my floor who loved this song and used to play it on guitar all the time. That was the pinnacle of musical flattery for me.
13. A Horrible Joke - I played drums. I remember Vinny Carrasco sitting in the backseat of a car and saying, “I liked every song except for Number 13.” Thanks a lot, jerk!
14. Plastic June - Probably played live twice.
15. Generic Love Song - Written in about 15 minutes, this song was probably our most well-known. I should have learned a lesson there.

--John Huston



doug said...

"Maroon and Blue" probably wins for the song with the most taggable line (in terms of this blog).

Also, what was "Make It Dance" a response to? You probably told me years ago, but I forget.

Good thing this is up in mp3 now. I tried to play my CD when I got home from work and the CD player wouldn't read the disc.

Ronald Garcia said...

Actually, I wasn't in the band when the album was recorded. I think the album was recorded after Jeremy Faller, a drummer who I'd introduced to John, quit the band . For reasons I'll never understand, John wanted both Doug and me to alternate drums on every other track. Doug being a masterful drummer, I found the experience psychologically scarring. The following school year I became the Transom's drummer and spent much energy trying to channel Doug behind the kit, to no avail. Hence my enthusiasm.

John Huston said...

Doug - I have my stash of "A Boy and His" at home, but I remember "Make it Dance" was about a story you wrote about dancing in your room while listening to music or something. I wish I could remember more clearly. Welcome to my 30s, I guess.

Oh man, Ron, you were a great drummer! I'm sorry you found it scarring, but you played on some of my favorite tracks!

chris o said...

the guy who wrote "music of the transoms is awesome" probably just saw that pink Ibanez bass and came to that logical conclusion.