Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Interview with Thomas Monda from Thank You Scientist....

How did the members of Thank You Scientists meet?

I (tom) met Odin (drums) through a mutual friend. We started jamming with some random people and I invited Ellis (sax) who I knew from music school to come jam with us. We had trouble finding other musicians who wanted to put in the time to play the tunes...we took a break for a bit, during which our bass player Greg's former band broke up, so we asked him to join our group. Sal found us through a classified ad, right when his former band Hello Eden was slowing down. We filled out the line up with some other great musicians I knew from music school, Russ (violin) and and Andrew (trumpet). Before Andrew joined the band we had George on keyboards (he played on The Perils of Time Travel). He had to go away to medical school to be come a brain doctor (bad financial choice) but we still love the little guy.

What steps do you take to write these intense progressive songs?

The song writing process is interesting. Since we have such a wide array of instrumental timbres in our band, it's different from writing for a typical rock band. In addition to the fact that we have a 7 piece band, much of the music is pretty technically involved. It sounds deceptively simple sometimes, but there is always a lot going on underneath the surface. What helps us a great deal is that each of the members are great sight readers, and have a pretty eclectic knowledge base as far as harmony is concerned (we all perform in both jazz and classical settings in addition to doing the rock thing). I will typically score some of the more difficult sections of songs, or just provide the guys with a rough score of a song and we work-shop it together with regards to the exact arrangement. Some material has been written exclusively in rehearsal, with all the members in the room bouncing ideas back and forth, though ideas are usually fleshed out and scored afterwards. Sal usually takes care of everything in the vocal department, but we all suggest melodies, vocal harmonies, etc. Everyone is always adding to the pot, it's a great vibe. No shortage of ideas that's for sure.

If the 7 of you were placed in a episode of the smurfs what would the names of your characters be and how would the episode pan out?

We would get removed from the episode because ellis would make too many "that's what she said" jokes. Plus I'm pretty sure Sal exceeds the maximum height for smurf village. Actually smurf village maybe somewhere in the eastern quadrant of his beard.

Your album is incredible. Intense, Epic, Progressive, technical, melodic..... How has your CD "The Perils of Time Travel" been perceived so far ? How would you describe it to someone who never heard it before?

First of all, thank you for your kind words! It was a risky record to make, as we weren't sure how listeners would take it. We really poured ourselves into the writing and rehearsing process. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and needless to say we are quite happy. We've been getting messages from people all over the world telling us how they dig the record. We've had massive turn outs at all of our shows. Our fans are super supportive and we can't thank them enough.

To be general I would describe thank you scientist as "prog" but not in the sense that "thank you scientist sounds like (insert the name of prog band)." More in the sense that it's rock, and it's "different." We love "prog" bands, but we are influenced more by the spirit of those bands, rather than trying to sound like them. I would venture to say that people who enjoy stuff like King Crimson, Yes, Mr. Bungle, Tool, Mahvishnu Orchestra, and Yes would like us. Thank You Scientist is really the sum of our collective musical experiences in the rock, jazz and classical realms.

How would you describe the NJ music scene and the role Thank You Scientist plays within it?

There are a TON of bands in the New Jersey scene. It's really quite unbelievable... hopefully we're doing something different enough for people to take notice. We'll just continue developing our "thing" and be as musically honest to ourselves and our audience as we can. That's all you can do as an artist, right?

If you were a fortune teller give us a little glimpse into the future of Thank You Scientist .......

We get a label behind us and can tour to promote our music. Logistically it's near impossible to get a seven piece band on the road with out some kind of label assistance. Ellis becomes the next Justin Bieber and we ride his coat tails to stardom. Greg becomes a millionaire off sweat pants/jeans ("sweans"). Sal's beard gets it's doctorate in Anthropology. But in all seriousness we just hope the influx of love we've been getting from "The Perils of Time Travel" continues, and we raise enough fund-age to make another record soon! Nice chatting with ya fred!

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  1. These guys are pretty unreal. It makes me happy that this is the kind of music being made on the underground nj music scene!

    - Janice