Behind the Soundtrack is a blog series featuring anecdotes and reflections on writing and recording Songs for Sam(antha): the I AM DRUMS Soundtrack. Go here to listen to samples from the entire album.
"Encyclopedia Toms" was originally the second song on the album, following an opening track that was tentatively titled "Take That, Danny!" at one point and "It Wasn't a Drumstick" at another.
I ended up bumping it up to the opening track because it felt right to open the album with a deceptively quiet riff that explodes when the chorus hits. The first minute of the song is like listening to a beginning musician transforming into a pro. It seemed appropriate for what might be in Sam's head while playing her fake desk set and imagining the real thing.
At one point I wanted a shuffling drum beat for the opening riff, but thankfully I dumped that idea. The drums really started coming together when I figured out the ride pattern on the chorus. The driving, flying-down-the-highway-powered-by-the-speed-of-rock drumbeat for the rest of the song came naturally after that.
I worried about the title at first. It made sense for the story, of course, but I almost made the ill-advised decision to alter the drum beats to have more toms. If there is one thing I've learned about any form of art, it's that inauthentic, inorganic additions to meet imaginary criteria are almost always a mistake.
And I'd already managed to get some wicked tom fills in, so the title was already fitting.