Artist of the Month

deli cover



August 2015
Simply stated, the music of HMPH! could be described with a term like math rock or experimental jazz fusion. But these terms, while accurate, don’t paint a complete picture of the sounds created by guitarist Ryan Lee Toms and drummer Jonathan Thatch. “Just when you think you got the groove, we switch it up, add a few beats, or throw in a chord from another key,” says Thatch, whose mastery over the drum kit is jaw-dropping. And while rhythmically complex, progressive compositions have become a cornerstone of the math rock genre, HMPH! additionally incorporates elements of jazz, ambient rock, alternative, and metal.
On Friday, the duo will be releasing its debut album Headrush (Haymaker Records), a 36-minute instrumental effort that showcases HMPH!’s dedication to push the envelope while keeping its music interesting. Nine of the 10 songs clock in under 5 minutes, keeping a fresh, brisk momentum for the entirety of the album. The listener has a chance to delve in to each song, but is pulled out before it becomes indulgent or formulaic.
Many of the songs start with a basic guitar riff that is bent and twisted in multiple directions, meandering from its original shape but always returning to it. From a polite jazz lick to a climactic rising arpeggio, Toms designs unpredictable, jagged noises with his guitar. “The harder it is for us to wrap our head around a riff, the more fun it is to write and the more enjoyable it is to dissect as a listener.” His combination of intriguing guitar sounds with Thatch’s intricate drum work shows that they’re very much up to the challenge. “Sometimes it starts with a complicated polyrhythmic drum part from Jonathan and I’ll create a progression to that. Other times, I’ll zone out and write arpeggios while thinking of decrepit medieval castles that kind of remind me of all the video games I played as a kid. Then I bring them to Jonathan.”

At the same time, Thatch is creating his own variegated sounds with just a five-piece drum kit. He often provides a countermelody to Toms’ guitar, building upon dynamic layers with odd meters, polyrhythms, subtle dynamic shifts, and rhythmic intensity. “One quality we strive for is to keep people guessing,” he says. This even includes retooling songs on the spot. “Our songs tend to keep evolving over time. We might be playing a song live and try something new, and we like the new sound so we keep playing it that way. Sometimes we don't even talk about it; we just both know how it goes now.” 

Rate the Artist:

Please visit The Deli's full web charts organized by genre and region.

Go to Charts


scene blog

Artists on Trial: The Lucky

Artists on Trial: The Lucky

Though The Lucky is a relatively new Kansas City band, the group is already working hard to play on larger local bills and begin recording. We sit down with the duo, Jason McKee and Camilla Camille, to find out more about who they are and what they have going.

The Deli
: Gun to your head, 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?

The Lucky: Indie-garage-punk-pop-riot revival with a beat you can dance to.

The Deli
: Let’s talk about what you have coming up. What can we expect?

The Lucky: Jason McKee: We’re playing with The Sexy Accident at the recordBar this Friday and with Drew Black and Dirty Electric at Coda on Saturday. We’ve added some new songs to our set.

Camilla Camille: We have a Kickstarter campaign starting this Friday and we are going to record a CD with Pat Tomek. And we have a show with Schwervon! on September 28 at The Riot Room; it’s their record release party. They just moved here from New York. And you can expect lots of fun music, laughter, theatrics, maybe some stage drama, some choreography, perhaps, some hoofing, and an all-around good time.

The Deli: What does "supporting local music" mean to you?

The Lucky: Camilla Camille: It means going out to shows and buying local bands’ CDs and t-shirts. Generally banging your head in the audience, screaming "yay!" and "woohoo!" while they’re playing. And talking to them afterwards telling them what you liked about their show.

Jason: Going to shows is important, and a worthwhile investment if you’re a music lover, but I also think if a band puts on a good show, it’s important to tell them afterward that I liked it and what I liked about it. And when I see a band I really like, I try to tell other people about it so they can experience it, too.

The Deli: Who are your favorite "local" musicians right now?

The Lucky: Jason: Jonathan Thatch, our Friday night drummer. Brian Jewell, our Saturday night drummer. Pat Tomek, who’s sitting in on drums for the September 28 show at The Riot Room. I love the show The Beautiful Bodies always put on. Cherokee Rock Rifle. Deco Auto. Drew Black and Dirty Electric. The Cave Girls. The Bad Ideas. Schwervon!.

Camilla Camille: You, Michelle Bacon. And The Cave Girls. Robin Powell Campbell. And The Bad Ideas. And The Beautiful Bodies. And Deco Auto. And Drew Black and Dirty Electric. And The Quivers.

The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?

The Lucky: Camilla Camille: Right now I have been listening to Devo, Bad Religion, Spank Rock, The Black Keys, The Cramps, and The Dollyrots.

Jason: I listen to a lot of The Libertines and Babyshambles. The Black Keys, Jack White’s various projects. Lately, I’ve been getting into The Germs. I listen to The Clash a lot, too.

The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?

The Lucky: Jason: Us with Cream, The Sex Pistols, the Libertines. Or, since this is fantasy, maybe letting Mozart, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones open for us.

Camilla Camille: Well that would require that we time travel because I would really like to open up for The Cramps, but since Lux is dead, that’s impossible. Otherwise, The Lucky could open up for the Black Keys or go on tour with Jack White, either The Raconteurs or The Dead Weather, or his solo project, or a reunion with Meg White for a White Stripes tour. But it would be kind of cool to time travel.

The Deli: Would you rather spend the rest of your life on stage or in the recording studio?

The Lucky: Camilla Camille: I would say I would like to spend the rest of my life on stage. However, it would be really neat to sleep in a recording studio, like if my bedroom was a recording studio. I would have a bed in there, a dresser, and a desk, but it would also have a stage area. I could combine both of them and have a stage in the recording studio and just live in there. That would be great. And of course there would be videos of the stage performances in the recording studio, which would be my bedroom.

Jason: It would definitely be on stage because performing for people and interacting with them gives me a rush I don’t get anywhere else. Plus, I have little patience for hearing playback of myself over and over.

The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?

The Lucky: Jason: John Lennon because he’s John Lennon.
Eric Clapton: "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" made me want to be a guitar player.
Lou Reed for having his own vocal and lyrical style and breaking away from what everyone else was doing.
Kurt Cobain for bringing soul and meaning back to rock music after it had been overtaken by cheesy hair bands.

The Deli: All right, give us the rundown. Where all on this big crazy web can you be found?

The Lucky
: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Lucky/301095373319237?ref=hl
Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/CamillaCamille
Bandcamp: http://thelucky.bandcamp.com/

The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?

The Lucky: Camilla Camille: Face your fears, stand up for yourself, look at the colors, embrace nature, write poetry, eat your vegetables, be grateful what you have, and tell your boyfriend how much you love him.

Jason: As the Butthole Surfers said, "It’s better to regret something you have done than to regret something that you haven’t done." And tell your girlfriend how much you love her.

You'll have plenty of opportunities to catch The Lucky in the next two weeks. Tonight, the band will be at recordBar with The Sexy Accident, Crush, and John Harrison and The Harrisonics (FB event page). Tomorrow, it's Coda with Drew Black and Dirty Electric (FB event page). Next Friday, The Lucky will be at The Riot Room for Schwervon!'s record release party with them, Folkicide, and The Conquerors (FB event page). Now you have no excuse but to make it to a show.

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She also has a weekly column with The Kansas City Star and reviews music for Ink. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. She played piano for about 8 years straight and can't seem to remember much of it now. Ho hum.

Share this story on Facebook



New Poll Coming Soon!

[sponsored by]

- news for musician and music pros -