Transformatix

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The Transformatix was a new wave band based in Boston, Massachusetts, which were around between 1981-1984. It was formed by Dave Newton, a musician and student who had just moved to Boston from New York City to attend The Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University downtown on Beacon Hill. The band played original very fast-upbeat punk/new wave music, with heavy repeating melodic hooks and strong 3-part harmonies.

Gigs[edit]

The band usually played twice a week, almost always on weekends, at local clubs that included: The Fire Escape in the South End, Passim's in Harvard Square (now Club Passim), Super Richard's on Boylston Street at the southwest corner of Boston Common, Spit behind Fenway Park, 10 Lansdowne Street also behind Fenway Park, Metro (also behind Fenway Park), Storyville in Kenmore Square, The Rat in Kenmore Square (a traditional Rathskeller), Titan's in Allston, and Lanny's Garden in Brighton).

The band was also booked regularly as the "local opening act" for regional and national bands appearing in concert in Boston (primarily through Jim Julian Concerts, and Jimmy Jay Productions). They opened for artists such as Daniel Amos Band, Randy Stonehill, Denny Correll, The 77s, Fireworks, and Sheila Walsh.

Members and history[edit]

Members included Dave Newton (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Steve Jenks (bass and backing vocals), Mark Tuner (drums), Jeff Bailey (lead guitar and backing vocals).

The band started with Newton as a solo artist (guitar and vocals) playing his original songs near the Park Street MBTA station in the Boston Common. Jim Julian, a local concert promoter and disc jockey at both AM-1090 WILD and AM-590 WEZE radio stations, heard Newton his second day playing in the Common, approached him, and booked him on the spot into local clubs as a solo act and opening act for local bands. Bob Klein (then editor of now defunct Lacrosse magazine In The Crease) introduced Newton to Jeff Bailey (a substitute teacher at Newton North High School, where Klein headed up Young Life).

Newton and Bailey played twice as a duo (two guitars with two-part harmonies) when they were approached by Steve Jenks after their second gig at The Crater in Somerville, MA (near Tufts University). That same week, four phone calls came in from Newton's hand-written ad posted at The Berklee School of Music looking for a drummer, the fourth call being Mark Tuner (a copier salesman in the main Boston office of Savin).

The band had its first practice the next Saturday in the small garage behind the house where Newton was renting a room in Watertown, MA. The band perfected a super tight 13-song set of original music, plus three punk-new wave cover versions of: "Show Me The Way" (Peter Frampton), "Badlands" (Bruce Springsteen), and "Runaway" (Del Shannon).

Original song set[edit]

The band's original songs were always played in the same music-set order:

  1. Matter of Time
  2. No Way
  3. I Know That I've Seen
  4. I Will Show You
  5. Too Much Tension
  6. Questions
  7. Flashbacks
  8. (Don't Use) My Name That Way
  9. Get Out Now
  10. The Wedding Downtown
  11. Taking In The Sun
  12. Let It All Go
  13. Trust in You.

The self-named Transformatix 7" vinyl two-sided extended single was recorded on an RCA 8-track reel-to-reel system in the basement of Paul McGowen in Cambridge, MA (he was a grad student at MIT and also worked at the Boston Phoenix newspaper) and featured "Let It All Go" on the 'A'-side and "Trust In You" on the 'B' flip-side. Exactly 60 copies were pressed at Harper's Music on Long Island, NY and shipped C.O.D. to Newton's room in Watertown. Thirty of these were mailed out to various record producers, agents, and talent scouts. Some were sold at two Boston downtown record shops, and the rest were given away or sold when the band played at local clubs and venues. Newton still has the original 6" tape-reel and one of the vinyl singles in the wax-paper sleeve and cardboard jacket.

Fate and other versions[edit]

The original band folded in June 1984 and was reformed by Newton in August 1984 after he had moved from Boston to Costa Mesa, CA in Orange County.

The California version of the band included: Newton (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Will Campbell (drums), Artemus Deane (bass and backing vocals), Garin Hauwels (lead guitar and backing vocals), and played in various venues throughout Orange County LA County, and San Diego from 1984 until 1987, when Newton moved to Amherst, MA to begin a PhD program at UMass.

The California version of the band reformed briefly in August 1988 after Newton moved back to Orange County (new drummer Keith Sparks), and played together until May 1990 when Newton moved to Santa Barbara, where he formed a new band - NightWatch - that played until mid-1994.