Complexity Breeds Creativity In Thank You Scientist!



Thank You Scientist. No, that is not a phrase but the name of a radically diverse band that is sweeping across the country. “I wish I had an entertaining story for it, but it was one of those things that I thought sounded good and fit the vibe of our music,” laughs Tom Monda of Thank You Scientist. “It’s not from Half-Baked like many people theorize.”

A rock band well known for their quirky style and dynamic sound; Thank You Scientist has been churning out their unique vision of progressive rock ever since their first self-release in 2011. One of the most interesting aspects to this band has been their evolution into the seven-person group they are now.

“The idea of the band was always to have an expanded ensemble, you know, as compared to the normal rock setup,” Monda explains. “And I think our sound has become more evolved to become more orchestrated and intricated and dynamic over the years. We want to continue that trajectory moving forward.

“Most of us are pretty big Frank Zappa fans, and there’s a lot of the seventies fusion stuff we all love. Bands like Tool and Mr. Bungle, too. “We are big fans of stuff like that. But as listeners, we’re totally all over the map so it’s hard to pinpoint an exact influence. But that’s what makes it cool, everyone has a pretty unique perspective.”

The band released their most ambitious album this year and every aspect of it is massively layered with details from its creation, to the songs themselves.

Terraformer… we called it that because it was the start of a new chapter with the band due to a couple new members and stuff like that,” divulges Monda. “So, it was like forging a new place to live so to speak. It’s a huge ginormous double album with lots of music on it. We are very proud of it and I don’t know what else to say except it’s got some of our most experimental music to date; I also think it has a very strong narrative and is a cohesive album and hope that people enjoy it.

Terraformer cover art

Terraformer cover art

“I’m very proud of the visual representation, how it relates to the music. It’s a very cohesive package in terms of the way the art looks; and the amazing art we had done by our friend, who did illustrations for each song. I think coupled with the art; it is the most immersive thing we have done. It’s something I want people to sit back with and just dive into. So, I’m proud of the fact that we were able to accomplish that with Terraformer, that kind of immersion.”

With the album complete, the band is now bringing it live to the entire county. “This is our first national tour supporting Terraformer, and it’s going great,” Monda states. “We had a sold-out show in Chicago the other night and the turnouts have been excellent. We are just having a blast playing all this new stuff for people.”

This is a band that seeks out challenges and shakes things up every chance they get. Monda notes, “I like the spontaneity you have at a live show, like the fact that we are so used to playing together so we have like little musical jokes. Or things that will happen during the set, like things one member will grab onto in a funny way. That kind of dynamic element is really great to me. And even though Thank You Scientist doesn’t have a super amount of room, I like the opportunity to get to improvise in front of people and make each night a unique experience in some way, both for myself and those listening.

“In our instrumental, our drummer always throws in a weird sample at a certain point in the music and we never know what it’s going to be. Last night he played a ridiculous sample of Alex Jones and the audience got so hyped about it. It was this thing, I’m sure people have seen it on YouTube, where he is ranting about goblins. But just to see the audience reaction to that made me laugh quite a bit. That was a highlight so far; wish I had a more profound musical highlight than something related to Alex Jones but that will have to do.”

It doesn’t stop there as evidenced by the way Monda takes risks even with his guitar itself. “I love playing the title track off our new album, Terraformer; a song that is played on fretless guitar which is always a challenge to play live. It just has cool, unique techniques in the song that are… every single night is tricky so that’s a nice challenge, but I have fun giving it a try. My failure rate is probably at 50% but hopefully it gets better as the tour goes on.”

How does such a large band effectively play such complex material together every night? “It’s typically drinking a lot of coffee and hanging out with our dog Max who goes on tour with us,” reveals Monda. “Everybody gets some dog snuggles, drinks some coffee, and has a powwow.”

The future shows no slowing down for Thank You Scientist. According to Monda, “Just today, we released a brand new single and video and hope people enjoy that. It’s nothing that is on Terraformer. Everyone can find that on our various social media outlets. It’s something really goofy and funny and I can’t wait for people to check it out.

“We are going keep touring in support of Terraformer for a bit as well. I know that me, personally, after this tour will be jumping back into the writing world and try to come up with as much stuff as I can. So that will be fun to hash out with the boys. We are just going to keep on grinding and see what happens.”