From Herb Alpert to Macy Gray, USC has a legacy of producing remarkable musical alumni.. Here’s the story of Thumpasaurus, the once cult campus party band composed of four jazz school prodigies and a film school front-man. They grew up together on campus, now their signature art funk sound and avant garde stage shows have reached far beyond frat row. Eva B. Ross caught up with front-man Lucas Tamaren after their sold out show at the lodge room to learn about how Thump began, and where they’re headed.
It’s Saturday night in highland park, the lobby of the lodge room is quaking with a maximum capacity crowd and they’re masked up.
They’re here to see Thumpasaurus.
Thumpasaurus, is a punk, funk, band known as much for their shredding musicality as they are for their over-the-top live act. For years they’ve been selling out shows, opening for iconic indie acts and playing international tours… but before all that, they were five students at USC.
And Lucas Tamaren, wasn’t yet a front man. He was a freshman studying film.
TAMAREN: An opportunity to talk about art and visuals... And meet other excited kids and no one really knew what they were doing, which was awesome.
Tamaren grew up in St. Louis. When he got to Los Angeles, he inspired by the creative culture on campus.
TAMAREN: I had such a deep love for music and art, but I never thought that was like a thing people did. And then at school I saw like all these, these kids doing music and loving it and like studying music and like telling you in a serious conversation that they were pursuing music. And then I was like, yeah, I can do this... That was such a pipe dream. And to be around that energy was very encouraging.
He started playing in a campus folk band called the neighbors. It was there that he met drummer Henry Was, who was studying music production. They started playing house shows at fraternities on campus.
TAMAREN: Got to plug in and people were, it was like sweaty college house party, you know, the energy was nuts.
[Live music of “Alien”]
TAMAREN: And so like quickly there started to be like a schism between folk, you know, sad. It’s more sad folk music, which I love. And that’s what I was writing at first. And like the rock and roll mentality, of like, let’s just like party.
The new sound was transformed by the addition of standouts from the Thornton School of Music. There was Henry Solomon on sax, Logan Kane on bass and Paul Cornish on keys....
TAMAREN: They were in jazz school, which was super rigorous and it’s a great jazz program, but like, it also just had this different sort of energy. I think these house parties then like what they were experiencing their whole lives of conservatory training… we kind of became like the, the party band at USC.
They called themselves Thumpasaurus.
Thump built a loyal following on campus and in Los Angeles. They played in backyards and at campus underground venues. In the years since, they’ve traveled the world, and their videos have racked up hundreds of thousands of views. Wherever they go, the music community they met at USC remains with them.
TAMAREN: I was, I was much more like bitter at the time of being like f*** school. And I quit. I left school and I came back to finish, but I’m super stoked. I went to school now, especially. It’s like, we’re, we’re different than we were like when we were in our early 20s, you know? And it’s like, but we still have that as our, as our roots and our foundation in that brotherhood, um, and shared friendship.
Thumpasaurus is set to release new music this fall and they head out on tour in October.
TAMAREN: Like the whole project is, is like a test and like, just trying to find like personal freedom within like the chaos of being a human in existing.
You never know what to expect at a Thumpasaurus show. Maybe a leather cowboy will strut around the stage, or aliens will play a face melting solo.
Wherever the show goes, we know where it started.