Thursday, December 18, 2008
Lawrence's Transmittens traces its roots back to Cincinnati, where Jen Weidl and Danny Rowland met and started making lovely music together. Since relocating to Lawrence three years ago, the duo has written a charming body of songs built around drum machines, synthesizers and choruses that will get stuck in your head for weeks. Their lyrics about hot dog suits, cow clouds and sparklemittens are hardly the too-cute variety of less capable twee-pop acts, but rather the artfully charming sort that The Magnetic Fields or The Field Mice might publish. In fact, they probably should have chosen a band name with “field” in it.
Since they’ve yet to release a proper album, Transmittens was kind enough to assemble an 11-song compilation for us. Go online to peep our podcast interview with Weidl and Rowland and score a free download of the in-the-works album that K Records is gonna swipe up and turn into a massive hit.
And don't forget to check out Transmittens on December 23 at the Jackpot Saloon.
Lawrence's Transmittens traces its roots back to Cincinnati, where Jen Weidl and Danny Rowland met and started making lovely music together.
lawrence.com: What’s a hot dog suit?
Rowland: A suit that looks like a hot dog.
Well, no shit.
Rowland: It’s in the shape of a hot dog, with a hole where your face sticks out.
Where did you come across this hot dog suit?
Weidl: Well, we were looking at the Lawrence.com party pics of KJHK’s birthday party. We saw a picture of our friend Peter, and we also saw a picture of a hot dog suit with a guy in it, but we never saw the two together.
Rowland: So we put two and two together and figured it was Peter.
What’s the deeper meaning to the song?
Weidl: If you see a hot dog suit and you don’t want people to think you’re in it, get a picture with it.
What came first – being friends, or the band?
Rowland: We were in a band in Cincinnati called The Vantage. That’s how we met, and I played the drums and Jen played bass. After that band broke up, we started to make songs.
Were you a metal band in the beginning?
Rowland: No, but the first show we ever played was an open mic at The Bottleneck and the band right before us was a Rage Against the Machine cover band. They upstaged us.
What’s the deal with your lyric I’m gonna ask your mom / To go to the prom?
Rowland: I couldn’t think of anything else, and it breaks up the seriousness.
FREE ALBUM downloadGet all 11 of the Transmittens' new songs in this convenient iTunes-ready downloadDownload now
That seems to be kind of a theme with you guys. There are moments of absolute sincerity and seriousness, and then there are ridiculous choruses about kittens and hot dog suits. Are you aware of that dynamic?
Rowland: Yeah, I think that’s how you have to be.
Weidl: We don’t want to be a downer or anything.
Will these songs be an album at some point?
Rowland: I’d like for us to have an album someday soon. We just have to figure out how to do it … We’re waiting for a record label just to approach us and tell us that they’re going to release it, like K Records.
So pretty much just K Records?
Rowland: Yeah … I don’t know how to put out a record. How do you do it?
I think nowadays you kind of just do it.
Rowland: I was thinking we might just put out a CDR whenever we get a good collection of songs in the perfect order.
Who are the characters named Fuzzy and Spunky in the song “Lightning Strikes Twice”?
Rowland: Those are the names of the dogs that we both had. We’re just paying them tribute.
Weidl: Lightning was my gerbil. My brother had a black one named Thunder, and mine was tan so I called it Lightning.
You have a song called “Railroad Tracks” – a very prominent theme in American music from Johnny Cash on through ... um ... Johnny Cash. What’s your take on the railroad-tracks theme?
Rowland: Um, jumping on a train and getting out of town.
Have you ever actually done that?
Rowland: No, but I’ve watched trains go by and it looks really easy.
Do you live by the train tracks?
Rowland: No, but if you’re downtown you can always hear them. I like the sound late at night.
Did you play a lot of Nintendo when you were a child? Because I’m feeling some Nintendo sounds.
Rowland: Yeah, up until the present day. That’s supposed be the sound of Pac-man dying at the beginning of this song.
What can you tell us about your show that’s coming up at the Jackpot?
Weidl: It’s with the Crate Lung Co-Op from Salt Lake City. They’re musicians, artists and crafters.
Have you met them or is this like a blind date?
Weidl: Sorta, yeah.
What are you going to wear?
Rowland: I don’t know. I just have one outfit.
The striped green sweater you’re wearing now?