If it's here.
I've been playing a certain Texas Is The Reason song a lot lately. It's the first song from their first EP, which is called "If It's Here When We Get Back It's Ours". Texas Is The Reason put out this EP in 1995, an LP and two split 7 inches in 1996, and then broke up. I saw them twice during their brief existence, and played the hell out of their records. I thought they were brilliant. This song was the first one that I heard that expressed what I thought was so great about them, though it certainly wasn't the last. In an interview I read with their guitarist, Norm Arenas, he mentioned that their sound came from the mix of indie, emo, and melodic punk influences with straight up New York hardcore. He figured that singer/guitarist Garrett Klahn would object to this characterization, but since the rest of the band had all played in at least one hardcore band before being in Texas Is The Reason, he also figured that the connection was undeniable. "If It's Here When We Get Back It's Ours" proves his point beyond a shadow of a doubt. Starting out with a driving, uptempo melodic rock sound, it powers its way through two verses and two choruses that are mostly standard indie rock in sound. Things change after that, though. The second chorus leads into a steadily building bridge, and that bridge reaches a drumroll-fueled crescendo before pausing for the briefest second and then dropping into the sort of blatant hardcore breakdown that you'd never expect in a million years to hear in an indie-rock song like this. The breakdown only lasts four short measures before bringing the song back into its usual uptempo speed, which takes it through to the end, but it's such a surprise that it makes a much more powerful impression than four short measures should. It's the kind of thing that could have seemed awkward, but instead works so incredibly well that it seems a revelation. "Why haven't I ever heard any other bands do this?" I thought the first time I heard it. From over a decade's remove, I think I can answer that question--because no one had ever combined the right musical vocabulary that would allow them to think of such a juxtaposition before. In the years since I first heard this song, the throwing of hardcore breakdowns into indie-rock, pop-punk and emo songs has never become commonplace, but I've definitely heard it quite a few times. Once the idea was out there, there were plenty of later bands who would pick up on it and use it. But it took Texas Is The Reason to come up with it initially, and the fact that they did so is but one of many reasons why they were one of the best bands of that era.
It's not the groundbreaking musical achievements in this song that are causing me to return to it over and over lately, though. Part of it is that it's an incredibly catchy song, and that crazy mid-song breakdown is part of what makes it thus. But moreso, it's the lyrics, and the general tone of the song. I'm not entirely sure what the song's about, since the lyrics aren't printed, but I've picked up a lot of it over the years, so I think I get the general idea. It's a song of frustration. It documents that moment in a relationship where all of the unspoken irritations that have been building up over the past however long finally get spoken out loud. I don't think it's so much about a romantic relationship, though, as a friend or group of friends. I had plenty of friends like that when I was younger, who I hung out with because I always had, but who made me uncomfortable and sad a lot of the time. I eventually did have it out with all of those kids, and now I'm pretty sure I don't have any friends like that, but figuring out how to get from there to here was a necessary part of my growth into an adult, and I'm sure it is for a lot of people. Lately I've been feeling frustrated about other things, though. It's not fair weather friends that are getting me down, it's stagnation in general, this feeling that my life isn't going anywhere. There aren't any people in my life that I find myself hating at this point, and there's no one that I want to go away. But when Garrett sings, "I've got to fool myself into believing that I might be stuck," I know how that goes. Because it's the truth--if I want to move, if I want to stop stagnating, it's my decision. The problem is, I don't know what to do or where to go. So it's easier to tell myself I don't have any choice in the matter than to admit my choices exist and then struggle over which one to make.
No wonder I've been walking around with this song stuck in my head all month.
Texas Is The Reason - If It's Here When We Get Back It's Ours