Fresh Stream, Interview

Tomstu, A ‘Kerfuffle of Syncopated Individuals’ Is Emerging on Boston’s Youth Circuit

They probably get it all the time: “High school juniors?!”


They probably get it all the time: “High school juniors?!”

Don’t let that deter you. Tomtsu (Jackson Payne (bass), Zach Fischer (guitar), Max Grossman (drums), and Chuka Stergios (vocals)), the Brookline High School–originated quartet, sounds like a band twice their age.

It’s difficult to assign their music a specific genre or descriptor. Some sort of fusion, maybe—art rock, perhaps even emo.

Fischer described it as “a kerfuffle of syncopated individuals.”

“Picture a normal song, except you put in a drummer who is really into weird music, so it has a lot of ridiculousness,” Grossman added, “a guitar player who is somehow able to successfully merge some crazy riffs and tapping with mainstream sounding chords and lyrics, a singer whose music taste might be the exact opposite of the drummer … and a bass player who somehow fits all three of those categories.”

They started their freshman year of high school, Fischer and Payne leaving their previous band (“we felt like we were the only ones really invested in the music”—the two were “The Only Members That Showed Up”) and beginning to jam with Grossman. Tomtsu was a “strictly instrumental band” until they started practicing with Stergios. Vocals didn’t make their way into Tomtsu’s music until around six months after Stergios joined—specifically, on their first released song.

That track—“128”—has achieved a sort of cult status in their hometown of Brookline. With over 80,000 streams on Spotify, the song creates a curious spacious sonic landscape. It’s a lush track—Fischer’s dreamy guitar noodles behind Grossman’s spontaneous, explosive drumming, topped by Stergios’ soaring yet reserved vocals. About three minutes in, the track switches into a more straightforward alt-rock groove given structure from intricate, lively bass riffs.

They’ve just followed “128” up with a new single, “Tongue Tied”—it strikes many of the same chords. At only one minute and forty-eight seconds (as opposed to “128”’s almost five minutes), its angry lyrics (“How come you rip me apart / When you say that’s what you fear?”) reinforce the upbeat, aggressive pace of the song—more guitar strumming and a more straightforward drumline than their previous single.

The band has an album coming soon, and, if it’s anything like the music they’ve currently got out, it might just rival many local adult bands.

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