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The Prog Report: USA

Roie Avin checks in from the States with news of Thank You Scientist

We recently reported that the band Thank You Scientist, a unique 7-piece band from New Jersey, had been tapped as the opening band for Coheed and Cambria for their upcoming Fall tour.

Last week, it was announced that Thank You Scientist was going to be the first band signed to Evil Ink Records, the new record label by Coheed frontman, Claudio Sanchez. Tom Monda, the band’s lead guitarist and a founding member say the band is very excited about the recent signing, “It's a new phase in Thank You Scientist. Ideally, we can start concentrating entirely on writing and performing music!”  But how does a band that has been described as “Incubus jamming with the Mahavishnu Orchestra” or “Mr. Bungle and Steely Dan joining forces to fight Godzilla” come to be? 

Thank You Scientist formed when Tom Monda met saxophonist Ellis Jasenovic and trumpeter Andrew Digrius at Montclair State University in New Jersey.  Vocalist Salvatore Marrano, bassist Greg Colacino, drummer Odin Alvarez and violinist Ben Karas would soon after join the group. After releasing the EP, The Perils of Time Travel, in 2011, they released their debut full-length,_ Maps Of Non-Existent Places_, in 2012.  

The band possess an eclectic and frantic style all their own incorporating their love of Zappa, Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Beatles, and fusing elements of progressive rock with jazz fusion, classical, metal, psychedelic and pop for a head spinning, mind-blowing listening experience. 

Tom attributes the band’s musical style to their love of simple melodies, not the instrumental fireworks. “A lot of the ideas start off with something really really simple and that is what I think makes it more accessible than it should be. I’m really into 60’s and 70’s pop like Todd Rundgren, XTC, Zombies, Harry Nilson, The Beatles. All of our songs can be distilled down to a very simple melody and very simple harmony. I could sit down and strum the songs and without all the fancy doodeling you would still get an idea of the song. Our music is harmonically driven as opposed to rhythmically driven.”

The band also score most of their music and are all highly skilled musicians who between them play a combined 20 different instruments. “On the first EP I scored a lot of the music ahead of time. On Maps..., we wrote it like a traditional rock band with one another and then we scored the whole thing and went through it with a fine tooth comb and added dynamics and things. The reason why we do that is we all like to contribute to the writing process so if one person is scoring it, it might be faster but it wouldn’t be the same.”

As far as Tom’s own playing, he is sponsored by Vigier Guitars which makes the fretless guitars that Tom has become known for and is planning to continue using on the new material the band is working on. “I’m gonna be using the fretless guitar a lot more on the next record and I’m still tapping into the possibilities of that. We have a new one that is about 10 minutes long that is all fretless and it’s a challenge but it gives it a unique sound. It puts me in a place where I have to write for the instrument so it makes me write a certain way.“

Their album Maps Of Non-Existent Places is being remixed and remastered for release on their new label in Sept.  The reason for the re-release, Tom says, was a chance to make things sound a little better. “The remaster sounds way more cleaned up... The mix is tighter, less cluttered and packs a meaner crunch at the same time. Sal’s vocals are also pumped a bit so they aren't lost in the sea of weirdness going on beneath him.”

Roie Avin is the Editor of The Prog Report website.

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