Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

In the House

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

In the House

Article excerpt

Last Halloween they dressed as the Village People; in previous years, they've been Juggalos, a hair metal band and '80s aerobics dancers.

Donning costumes for their Halloween shows is a quirky tradition for North Jersey-based progressive rock band Thank You Scientist, and this year is no different: For Friday's performance at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, the seven-member group again promises something special, but to surprise the fans they're keeping it under wraps until showtime.

Since the band came together four years ago, said guitarist Tom Monda, they've played "pretty much every club in New Jersey that you can imagine."

"But our sort of home base was at Mexicali, so it's an event whenever we play there," said the Rochelle Park native. "It [becomes] a giant party where we're just hanging out with the fans and everybody."

Monda, who has a jazz background and studied at Montclair State University's music program, got the itch to re-form Thank You Scientist (a band he fronted in 2005 with a completely different roster) after years of classical training as a pianist. He teamed with friends who were also in the program -- Ellis Jasenovic (saxophone) and Andrew Digrius (trumpets and backing vocals) -- and a few non-MSU students who also had years of experience: Salvatore Marrano (vocals), Ben Karas (electric violin), Greg Colacino of East Rutherford (bass) and Odin Alvarez (drummer).

Having a large band allows the group to combine a range of sounds and styles, Monda said. Not an easy feat -- too many elements can make a song seem sloppy -- but Monda said they all make it work.

"Almost everyone in the band has classical or jazz training," he said, "so we do everything from hard core to chamber music. Everyone's influences leak in, but everybody is in tune [with each other] and no one is trying to steal the show." The main priority, he added, is playing something that people can listen to.

So how do they label their unique sound? "I guess it's progressive, but we're not trying to play any particular kind of music," Monda said.

The band writes collaboratively, with Monda or Marrano often bringing the bare bones of a song to the group during rehearsal and then incorporating everyone's ideas. …

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