HIT CHANNEL INTERVIEW: November 2010. We contacted with Tom Monda (guitar) from the band Thank You Scientist, which Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal mentioned in his recent exclusive interview with us. He even mastered their debut EP ‘The Perils of Time Travel’. Read below all the interesting things Tom told us.
Tell us who are Thank you Scientist, how and when they formed?
Thank You Scientist is a group of seven very handsome gentleman trying to write some interesting tunes, stuff that’s challenging but also (we hope) fun. I (Tom) met Odin (the drummer) through a mutual friend about two years ago. We started writing music together and it really clicked. Prior to this I stopped playing rock music for a while to focus on studying jazz guitar, so I was totally reinvigorated and ready to rock out. Odin introduced his bass player friend Greg into the picture soon after our first few jams. Odin and Greg have been playing together since they were about twelve and have great chemistry as a rhythm section. In the early stages of this project I had the idea of creating a large ensemble type sound, I wanted a large palette of instrumental colors to work with. We added Ellis (saxophone) and Russ (violin/viola), two fantastic players I go to music school with, as well as George (keyboards), an old friend I used to play with in high school. After trying out a bunch of singers we found Sal and felt his voice was a perfect match for our music. This is the line up on our new ep, ‘The Perils of Time Travel’. Unfortunately shortly after recording, George had to leave the country to go to medical school in Domenica (fun fact: ‘Jurassic Park’ was filmed there). Instead of finding a new keyboard player, we added Andrew on trumpet and flugelhorn. Wow, that was a mouthful. But that brings you up to date haha…
Which are the influences of the band and your personal influences as guitarist?
You would be very surprised to look at our ipods and cd collections. We truly listen to everything. For what it’s worth, Greg has Ace of Base on his ipod in ALL CAPITOL LETTERS. Think about that one. Rock, Metal, Jazz, Classical, Electronic, Weird Pop…we dig anything that’s well written. As far as my influences as a guitarist…I am a jazz nut. I love Lenny Breau, Ben Monder, Ed Bickert, Jim Hall, Ralph Towner, dudes like that. Hopefully I can show a bit more of that side of my playing in the future. On the rock/fusion tip I love Ron Thal and Allan Holdsworth.
‘The Perils of Time Travel’ is our debut ep. The title is an homage to Back To the Future, and is strangely enough not the only reference to that movie to be found on the record. It comes out on January 7th and will be available digitally and physically through a number of different online sources, our website thankyouscientist.net will be updated with information on that. I used to take guitar lessons with Ron when I was a lad, we became friends and have stayed in touch through the years. Before his GnR days, Ron was a madman producer/engineer. He has a fantastic studio here in New Jersey. We needed someone to master our record and the timing was perfect, Ron happened to be back for a short period of time before hitting the road on another GnR tour. Ron’s a complete pro and did a fantastic job for us.
You were Ron’s student. How was he as a guitar teacher? How important are those he taught you for your life and music?
Ron as you could imagine was a great teacher. He helped me get my act together real quick and introduced a lot of concepts that really opened up the fingerboard for me and started making me think like a musician and not a guitarist (if that makes sense). He influenced me to check out the fretless guitar, which is something I’m incorporating in the new Thank You Scientist material. He is also very open and honest about giving advice regarding how to handle yourself as in independent artist.
Your music is very diverse, from salsa/latin to progressive metal as I can hear. Who is the Mars Volta freak in the band?
HAHA! There are certainly some Mars Volta fans in the band, but I wouldn’t say we are ‘freaks’, though I really dug their first album. As far as the mash-up of styles, we really dig bands like Mr. Bungle who aren’t afraid to dabble in a little bit of everything. The preponderance of styles in the band probably comes more from our musical background, as most of the guys are classically trained and/or play jazz and other non-rock styles.
How much active you’re doing gigs? Do you enjoy playing live?
As soon as the record comes out we are going to gig WAY more. It’s especially tough because we have 7 different schedules to work around. We just did a show at the Bitter End in NYC which was a lot of fun. It was a Halloween show and we dressed like an 80s hair metal band and rocked out. Our drummer looked more like the love child of David Blaine and Bee Arthur than C.C. Deville (the definitive hair metal look) but it was a worthy attempt on his part. We love playing live and put a lot of energy into our shows. Part of that energy comes from fear of being hit by a runaway bow stroke from our violinist who has been known to get dangerously close to stabbing eyes and faces by accident.
We plan on releasing the EP independently and seeing what kind of response we get from labels. It’s a tough sell as the music is a little outside the norm but we are hoping people will dig it. Facebook and Myspace are great resources for independent artists, especially for promoting concerts! We have a facebook fanpage where fans can listen to tunes, watch videos, look at pictures and keep up to date with various goings on, definitely check it out www.facebook.com/thankyouscientist
Which was the last great album that you listened to?
Hmmm….very good question. I love Aaron Parks’ ‘Invisible Cinema’ record, beautiful playing, really cool compositions. I’ve been on a major kick with Andy Pratt’s, ‘Records Are Like Life’. It came out in 1969, but sounds very fresh. Amazing pop tunes, very cool arrangements. My brother’s band H.M.S. Revenge has a new record coming out in January that sounds killer! Russ plays guest violin on a track or two. Now that winter is rolling around I’ve been listening to Nick Drake a lot, perfect for cold days. Very sparse and delicate. On the classical tip I’ve been really into Bartok and Morton Feldman. The new Wolfgang Muthspiel and Mick Goodrick duet cd is a monster. My friend Mark Stanley, who is a fantastic guitar player, has a new record he’s working on with his band Farquhar. I’ve heard some demos, it’s going to be a wild one.
Roger Waters tour USA with ‘The Wall’. Did you see him in any of NY or NJ dates? Are you a fan of his?
As much as I love ‘The Wall’, I’d love to see him play «Animals» in its entirety! Unfortunately I was way too broke to see him play on this tour. I teach guitar at the School of Rock and the students are performing all of ‘The Wall’ at their next concert so I’ll definitely be seeing that one!
How possible is to play soon in Greece? Send a message to Greek fans.
Dear Greece, Thank You Scientist would love to come over and rock for you guys. Your country looks beautiful on Google! Until we make our way over, you guys can keep in touch with us at facebook.com/thankyouscientist, listen to our tunes at reverbnation.com/thankyouscientist, or drop me an email at [email protected], I’d love to hear from y’all.
Special thanks to Tom Monda and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal!