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Born in New Jersey in 1985, Tom Monda is a man who shows creativity and talent way beyond his years.
Which is Bumblefoot's 'favourite band in the world?' No, it's not Mumford & Sons. It's New York's Thank You Scientist featuring future guitar superstar Tom Monda. Levi Clay caught-up with Tom in Los Angeles.
Neither Tom Monda, nor his band, Thank You Scientist, are exactly on the tip of everyone’s tongue just yet, but watch this space. No lesser being than Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal has singled them out for serious attention and even a cursory examination of the band's material - and for our purposes in particular - the playing of guitarist Tom Monda, soon shows why.
Born in New Jersey in 1985, Tom Monda is a man who shows creativity and talent way beyond his years. Listening to his Dad's punk and metal collection, Tom picked up his first guitar, an Epiphone Les Paul, at 12. Interestingly, he is actually left-handed but due to the restrictions in choice on the left-handed market Tom made the decision to bite the bullet and learn to play right-handed.
As Tom says: “ I heard Steve Vai at some point and decided that in lieu of a social life I would start practising fiendishly”. From there he took classical lessons with a local teacher who taught him the values of reading and many of the elements of classical music, but it was the introduction of players like Holdsworth, McLaughlin and Henderson who really sparked a great interest in Jazz fusion and improvisation.
Tom also discovered Ron Thal around the same time and felt an instant bond. “He was playing all these things that I could hear in my head but didn't think were possible. He had such a unique sound and it inspired me to find my own thing.” Fortunately Ron was also local to Tom so he quickly hit him up for lessons which rapidly expanded his musical knowledge and creative mind, not to mention exposing him to the potential of fretless the guitar!
After graduating high school Tom went down the Jazz route, studying modern harmony and the Jazz language which would lead him to doing a degree at Montclair state university where he had the opportunity to study with serious players like Steve Benson and Dave Stryker.
Despite this background in Jazz, Monda felt the urge to move back to his roots and apply the music he had come to love in his years of study to create something all the more exciting. Thank You Scientist was born sometime in 2010, and after a few line-up changes the group took form with Salvatore Marrano on vocals, Tom on guitar, Russ Lynch on violin, Andrew Digrius on trumpet, Ellis Jasenovic on sax, Greg Colacino on bass and Odin Alvarez on drums.
The group released their EP The Perils Of Time Travel in 2010 which displayed their progressive Rock, Pop and Jazz fusion influences but it was their debut album, Maps of Non Existent Places, released in 2012, which really made waves, even ranking the group as one of Reddit's top 10 bands of the year.
Monda currently plays a selection of Vigier guitars, including his stunning Expert, featured in our video, along with a pair of Vigier Surfreter fretless models - one with the older Delta metal fretboard (we featured one of these back in issue 4) and a new one with Vigier's new "iMetal" board (as featured in issue 9).
From the haunting acapella prelude to the funky Pop sections, Jazz/Rock riffs, complex arrangements and incredible vocals, to the stunning guitar solos, extended structures and slippery fretless licks, it's an aural treat from start to finish. If Bumblefoot can describe Thank You Scientist as his “favourite band in the world right now”, the chances are, you're going to love them.