He stares at the camera and utters, “This might be the worst f****** idea I’ve ever had in my entire life,” and turns the camera off.
Ideas. Those aren’t new to him or the band he sings for – Transmit Now.
Ideas led them to the 2008 Warped Tour, a record deal, even MTV.
However, ideas also led to not such great places and that’s where they are now. They’ve had better days, but stay persistent.
Sometimes it takes a little taste of fame to give you a reality check.
It’s a true test for any musician- how to handle sudden popularity and how to bounce back when things don’t go as planned.
This four-member Pop/Alternative outfit from Orlando, Florida also includes Tony Aguirre (Guitar), Kevin Parrow (Guitar) and Greg Parrow (Drums).
They’ve evolved from last-minute, sweaty, do-it-yourself local shows to opportunities basked in brighter lights, louder crowds and fancier stages. They’ve spent days with their pupils super-glued to their televisions, as other artists rocked MTV, to soon gaze at themselves on that same channel.
They entered contests just like everyone else. No breaks. No advantages. They worked for everything to even get to this point.
They formed in 2007 from the ashes of a band Brooks and the Parrow brothers made when they met in college. Bassist Lee Gianou joined in June 2008 and Brooks brought in Aguirre as a guitarist since they played together since middle school.
Why Transmit Now is their name serves no significance. It’s meaningless. They are words that fit together and went with their songs.
“When you’re trying to name a band, everything sounds ridiculous,” said Brooks. “I can’t imagine going to my buddies and being like, ‘Guys… what do you think of calling our band Korn?’”
In 2008, they played several contests to try for a spot on the Warped Tour. They won the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands Online contest and got to play the Ernie Ball stage. It was their first official “gig.”
“You grow up going to Warped Tour, so being able to play it was just awesome,” said Brooks. “We couldn’t imagine literally being on that tour all summer long, doing that day in and day out, but it was a really good experience.”
Things seemed to come together. Transmit Now signed with Silent Majority Group Records on February 17, 2009, not long after Warped Tour.
They marched into the studio to record their debut full-length album, “Downtown Merry-Go-Round.” Anxious for this opportunity, they took some extra risks to put complete attention on music and recording.
“We decided we were going to quit our jobs and go be a band full-time, throw caution to the wind like everybody told us not to do,” said Brooks.
After they recorded, they released the record in May 2010 with high hopes the risks would pay off. They shot a music video for the song, “Tarantism (Let’s Go Out Tonight)” over three torrid days in Orlando that same month.
“Summer time in Florida isn’t the greatest for shooting in a garage or having to wear hoodies. Our hair and makeup team definitely earned their money that day,” said Kevin Parrow. “Chris Grieder had a great vision for it and it was definitely fun wrestling around with a vending machine.”
The week of August 30, 2010, the video premiered on MTVU’s “The Freshman Five” contest and won, thanks to fans’ non-stop voting. It was then added to MTV’s rotation.
Winning contests wasn’t new, but this was different.
“We were absolutely elated,” said Brooks. “I had everybody calling me saying congratulations.”
Transmit Now went on tour to support the album, from the West coast to the East. They opened up for Framing Hanley and gained fans with every show.
“We were fortunate enough to sell a lot of CD’s while on the road and that kept gas in the tank,” said Greg Parrow.
Throughout their history, they’ve played with Bowling For Soup, Anberlin, TRUST company, Pop Evil, Patent Pending and Mayday Parade.
However, champagne wasn’t popped yet.
Things didn’t work out with the record label like originally hoped. It reached a point where both the band and label felt they couldn’t benefit from each other and Transmit Now was released from Silent Majority Group sometime Late 2010-Early 2011.
“The head of the label was looking at diversifying into other things and it was becoming clear that there wasn’t much road forward,” said Greg Parrow. “No hard feelings though. It gave us an opportunity to do things ‘our way’ again and helped keep a little more money in-house.”
“I think they were willing to give us another shot, but we didn’t know if the outcome would be any different, so they agreed to release us and wished us the best,” said Kevin Parrow.
Things don’t come easy without a label. That’s especially known on the road.
“Touring becomes harder,” said Kevin Parrow. “With gas prices the way they are and a few vehicle repairs, you find yourself canceling shows or just staying home. That’s the hardest part for me.”
With seemingly nowhere else to go, the band turned to the website, Kickstarter, to attempt to raise money to fund their next record and asked fans for donations.
Just like old times, those fans that voted them to the 2008 Warped Tour, voted “Tarantism (Let’s Go Out Tonight)” to win “The Freshman Five” and all the new fans gained along the way came through huge.
They raised over $11,000 on the Kickstarter project and surpassed their goal with a bit more than a week left.
In the end, all you have are your fans and Transmit Now definitely knows. Fans formed a “Transmit Now Street Team” in May 2011. Over time, it has greatly grown.
“It’s really fun to run the Street Team. I love getting to interact with so many fans from all over,” said Jen Rackham, the Street Team Administrator. “I like to do fun things like contests for prizes, trivia every Tuesday on Twitter and a bunch of other things.”
They interact with fans when possible. That’s where their “Mad Lib” song comes in: a song with lyrics completely made by fans via comments in a Facebook thread. It was an idea Brooks brought at practice. The execution didn’t quite work, but it was worth a shot.
“I just feel like today, you can be forgotten so quickly with the amount of artists that are out there on the internet and the amount of content that you’re being bombarded with,” said Brooks. “We try to do stupid stuff like that all the time to keep fans engaged.”
The guys from Transmit Now will do anything for them, even if that involves a trip to South Korea to play for them and the military.
“It was an awesome experience, we should tour there again soon,” said Greg Parrow.
They encountered another slight obstacle when Gianou quit the band in September 2011, but that didn’t faze them. They moved on.
For the new record, “1955,” the band’s done all the legwork themselves. Kevin’s worked most of the Sound Production/Mixing. Unlike “Downtown Merry-Go-Round,” which was a mashup of songs over a five-to-six year period, the new songs are written at a faster pace.
“You know, they say you have your whole life to write your first record and you have six months to write your second one and I think that’s pretty accurate,” said Brooks.
The guys released the song “Marty McFly” on their official website, a song that almost didn’t make the cut, but after a couple of structural changes, it came together. Plus, the song’s theme isn’t half-bad.
“That’s like straight-up love of 80’s movies and my undying love for ‘Back To The Future’ and ‘Karate Kid,’” said Brooks.
Plenty of work went into this next record and it’s all about giving back to fans. They plan to first release the album to Kickstarter fans and then everyone else about a month later.
Expectations are high, but everyone has their hopes Transmit Now will deliver.
“Hopefully fans will respond well,” said Rackham. “Based on the reaction that the Kickstarter sampler got and the fact that these are talented guys who care about their music, I’m optimistic the reaction will be positive.”
But no matter how other people put it, the band themselves know what’s to come with “1955” and Brooks says it best.
“It’s the next evolution of our band,” said Brooks. “I feel like everybody who listens to it, it’s going to make perfect sense.”
They know what it’s like to reach the top and all the work it takes to get there. They know what it’s like to “be known.” They just have to get themselves there again.
“We don’t seek to get rich,” said Brooks. “All we want is to make a living and be happy being in a band and I hope we can still continue to do that.”