Tonic Engine: First-year students start new band

On one of the final frigid evenings of JanPlan, Tom Crisp ’19 decided to wander over to Dana.  There, he met a student he had seen around campus a few times.  He and the girl chatted for a bit about music, specifically about Crisp’s favorite band Neutral Milk Hotel. “After we talked for about five minutes or so she said ‘You have to come meet this guy,’” Crisp commented. 

She led Crisp across the hall into the room of Andrew Fumarola ’19 and the two immediately hit it off. “Within 10 minutes we broke out some instruments and started playing some of their songs,” Fumarola said.  What they did not realize at the time was that night, Crisp and Fumarola’s new band was formed.

After they began a habit of playing together, Crisp and Fumarola decided to make their band official. The two settled on the name “Tonic Engine.”  Tonic Engine is self-described as a lo-fi folkjam band, with Crisp on vocals, rhythm ukulele, and accordion and Fumarola on lead guitar and piano.  The group has also had the occasional help of Aaron Canter ’19 on the trumpet and Eric Dolce ’19 on the bass. 

Ultimately, Tonic Engine was created out of a shared love of music. Crisp and Fumarola were able to connect so quickly because all they wanted to do was have fun and play music.  “We both have a very casual demeanor when it comes to making music.  We’re always willing to experiment with styles and song constructions. Live music is also something we’re both passionate about, and watching our songs become more constructed and take on personalities through jamming has shown us that we can build off each other creatively really well,” Fumarola said.

After the group’s inception, Crisp and Fumarola began to play together on a regular basis.  They began working on potential songs together, inspired by a wide-range of groups and genres.  “My own inspirations include The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Phish, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, making me more inclined for jam-based music. Neutral Milk Hotel is a big inspiration for the both of us. Traditional Irish folk music has also been an influence on both of us,” said Fumarola.

Tonic Engine has already recorded multiple songs, all of which have been uploaded to Crisp’s YouTube page. The group agrees that their song “The Tuber Family” is their best work, but hope to top that piece in the future.  Currently, they are in the process of writing a song that they hope to start recording when the fall semester rolls around. “When we get back next year, we intend to start getting some regular stuff going and then dive into a recording project,” Crisp said.  While looking towards the future is important, at the moment they’re focusing on the present and finding what makes their band unique.  “We want to continue to find our own sound. Establishing our own musical chemistry is definitely a priority at this stage,” Furmarola added.

Last month, the group played at the WMHB’s Spectacular Night of Music with Sea for Miles. Both Crisp and Furmarola enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with other groups on campus.  “With a lot of musicians on campus, we’re always excited to jam with new people,” Furmarola explained.

Tonic Engine has a Facebook page for anyone seeking more information. As for their immediate plans: “We’re playing a show next week with the Moist Bandanas and The Ravine” Crisp said.  “So come see us on Sunday for some lo-fi folkjam explosions!” Fumarola added.

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