Interview: Thumpasaurus chats with NWMS

 

Thumpasaurus – Photo courtesy of Cody Mickenzie

Punk-funk conceptualists Thumpasaurus, spawned in L.A., visit the Sunset Tavern on Saturday, February 16th. Two of them were kind enough to expound on life, history, and  the “THUMP” modality.


NWMS:  Has the band played Seattle before?

Henry Was:  This is our first Seattle show! We’ve got a ton of friends from up here though, and we really love all of them. So far so good.

NWMS:  What are your best, worst, and oddest memories of playing live with the band? Any nights where you wondered if you were still on planet Earth? 

Lucas Tamaren:  Best memories: In 2018 we premiered the Thump Opera live on stage at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles featuring a choir of 25. The response we got from the crowd was unreal, and I think it showed us that we just need to go all the way – wherever that is!

We once had a person shout “I’m going to strangle your dog” at us during a song, where we then had to abruptly pause in the middle of the song. We turned it into a moment of growth, because I don’t think the person really meant to shout it during silence, as it was more of an impulse reaction to the cutting of the music, so he was forgiven. I don’t have a dog, I wish I did.

There have been so many nights where we have questioned if we were on Earth. We see mosh pits opening up for very positive/mental health leaning songs in our set- that is always surreal and pretty silly to see people moshing to lyrics that tell people to chop their bad thoughts. 

NWMS:  Where did you grow up, and what were your most important musical experiences growing up? Which bands, songs, shows, etc., made you want to make music? 

Henry Was:  We’re from all over—St. Louis, Houston, Los Angeles, Texas, The Bay, Chicago, the list goes on. For most of us, jazz is our musical foundation. Five-sixths of the touring members of Thump studied jazz at some point. That said, we find ourselves in the tradition of bands like Parliament, Talking Heads, Devo, Prince, and that sort of thing.

A lot of our collective inspiration came from playing house parties together in college (which we did a lot of), and bouncing off of those rowdy  audiences. It took time, but we figured out what works to get people dancing when you only have 1/2 a working PA and sweat dripping from the ceiling. The great concert films also—Stop Making Sense (Talking Heads) and The Last Waltz (The Band) were hugely informative. 



NWMS:  The band’s promo promises “traces of Zappa, Beefheart, James Chance, Funkadelic/Parliament, Devo, Morphine, Talking Heads and Prince, as well as some rocking heavy metal, free jazz, musical theatre and even some light opera references thrown in for good measure.” Which of these artists are dearest to your heart, and why? How does light opera figure into funk?

Lucas Tamaren:  There is really no artist that is most dear. There are so many flavors in all these different genres and artists that can communicate the human experience. Some genres communicate different things a little better than others, but every genre is valuable, so it’s fun to take from different genres and artists.

Light Opera is super funky. Opera is perfect for the space/funk narrative elements in our band. 

NWMS:  Which instrument do you play, and how long have you been playing it? 

Henry Was:  I play drums and produce.

Lucas Tamaren—Guitar/Vocals

Logan Kane—Bass

Paul Cornish—Keyboards

Henry Solomon—Saxes and Woodwinds

Nate Lichtenberger—Percussion and additional Keys

Ben Benjamin—PowerPoint

We’ve all basically been making music as long as we’ve been alive. Paul grew up playing in church, I come from a musical family, Henry Solomon went to Interlochen, an arts boarding school in Michigan, Logan started off as a punk drummer, and Lucas taught himself guitar by transcribing southern funk drummers like Stanton Moore and Ziggaboo Modeliste, and translating that to guitar. 

NWMS:  Which are your personal heroes on your instrument, and why? 

Lucas Tamaren:  Jimi Hendrix on guitar and recently Captain Beefheart on vocals. Both have this absolutely raw, unhinged attitude in the art they create. That is something I have always been drawn to. Something so beautiful in there. 

NWMS:  The new video takes off from martial arts films. Does the whole band enjoy those?

Henry Was:  Logan is actually a black belt in Karate, and I studied Wing Chun in high school, but the concept for “Mental Karate” appeared quite separately. We were in Edinburgh and one of us just blurted out the phrase “Mental karate chopping all the bad thoughts” and there was just no way we could resist investigating what that could mean. 


NWMS:  Does the band have an all-consuming ideology? If so, what are its precepts? How did this grow and change over time? 

Lucas Tamaren:  I think our all-consuming ideology is harder to describe but easier to feel. I feel like our music, multimedia elements, lyrics, visuals and energy all conspire together to touch this thing we like to call the “THUMP.” It is all marinated in nonsense. It’s about trying to be harmonious with truth while respecting the pain and challenges of trying to do so as a human being. 

NWMS:  Where did you record your Book of Thump album and who produced it? 

Henry Was:  We recorded Book of Thump in my basement. I built a studio down there where we’d recorded an album with the band that would become Thumpasaurus (at the time it was a folk project called The Neighbors). I engineered, produced, mixed, and partially mastered both of those records, and Lucas was there every step of the way, working collaboratively as a guiding force for the sound and feel.

NWMS:  What are the band’s plans for the future?

Henry Was:  We’re setting off on our first U.S. tour this week, and putting out our funk opera while we’re on the road, and we couldn’t be more excited. We’ve been waiting for this moment for pretty much our whole lives, and we’re so stoked to be able to bring our craziness to so many new places.

We also got added to some incredible festivals this summer, including Electric Forest, Peach Fest, and Firefly. We’re really looking forward to what we can do on that type of stage and in that sort of venue. All we can say is we promise it’ll be totally nuts.


Get more info about the upcoming show at Sunset Tavern HERE.

Andrew Hamlin

Andrew Hamlin likes to photograph shoes and write about dog shit. He was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, where he resides today. He attended the Evergreen State College, where he wrote and edited arts coverage for the Cooper Point Journal. He is the film critic for the Northwest Asian Weekly, and he’s published arts coverage and criticism in the San Diego Reader, Village Voice, Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, Goldmine, and other publications. He misses Helen Wiggin. Hamlin’s website is https://andrewhamlin.org.