EXCLUSIVE: Tommy Boys – “Friends In Theory”

Music, man. Let me tell you… I’m extremely fortunate in my position at Substream Magazine to work with a lot of well known artists. If a time traveler were visit me in my 5th grade classroom and inform me that I’d some day I’d discuss personal life details with the singer of “Ocean Avenue,” I’d probably become obsessed with the theory of time travel and never pen a word about music.

Fortunately, I haven’t spent any time on trivial matters like quantum physics and dedicated myself to music, which has shaped everything about my life. Now talking about Yellowcard is cool, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the little guys I’m most interested in. I root for the local, I dig into side projects and soundcloud accounts for the first whiffs of something new. Sometimes I turn up some stinkers. Bland bands that don’t stick. Other times, I find gems. Bands so good that it’s nearly impossible to believe they’ve only released one song.

Tommy Boys dropped “Estate Sale” in April of 2014. That’s it. Since then, I’ve been obsessing over the mixes they were generous enough to send me. Appreciating them for myself, having nobody to talk to about just how great this out-of-nowhere group really is.

No more of that. I couldn’t stand it. I forced their hand and begged them for a song. Being gentlemen just as eager to have their music heard, they obliged. Today we hear “Friends In Theory” for the first time.

Fans of Tiny Moving Parts will appreciate the noodly guitar work features throughout the band’s record. The┬áHotelier obsessed will relate to the heartfelt and almost uncomfortably personal lyricism. Any pop-punk/emo connoisseur is obligated to share Tommy Boys with all of their basement-show-going pals.

The album, which is self-titled, drops January 27, 2015 on Other People Records.

Read a short interview with Tommy Boys below and hear their new song “Friends In Theory” just after. Show dates are at the bottom of the post if you’d like to catch them on the road.


Substream Magazine: Origin story. Let’s hear it. How did you guys get to know each other?

Tommy Boys: Robbie and Tyler first met as students at San Francisco State University in August of 2011 through the craigslist housing section. They moved in together with 5 other people to a house called ‘The Nugget House’ in the Sunset district of San Francisco, where they quickly bonded over American Football (the band) and European Football (the sport). Tyler met Daren in November 2011 through the craigslist musicians section while looking to start a band. Daren lived in San Jose at the time and would commute to SF once or twice a week to jam with Tyler in the garage. Robbie was interested in what he heard, and soon started joining in on bass. We all really enjoyed playing together, so in Summer 2012 Daren moved up to San Francisco to live in the Nugget House with Tyler and Robbie. We started practicing a lot more and playing small house shows together. Up to that point we’d been playing weird instrumental math rock songs that Daren had written before ever meeting Tyler/Robbie, but then Robbie recorded a short vocal demo over a garage recording of one of our songs. It sounded amazing, and we were inspired to try writing some fun, catchy songs for Robbie to sing over. Our song ‘Estate Sale’ was the first song we wrote with vocals in mind; we were really happy with how it came out so we knew we had finally found our lineup and our sound!

SM: Recording. Where did you record the album? How was that experience?

TB: We recorded the drums with Jack Shirley at Atomic Garden in Palo Alto in early July. He’s friendly and easy to work with, and he maintains a very professional vibe throughout the entire recording process. His drum tones are realistic but powerful, and remind us of some of our favorite 90’s records, so he’s a perfect fit for our sound.

We have tracked guitar, bass, and vocals ourselves at home. We wanted to record at home as much as possible because our music is very difficult for us to play and we strive for perfection in our performances. The recording studio can be a stressful environment for us because you only get a few tries to record each part and whatever you record is what people are going to listen to forever. Sometimes it takes a lot more than a few tries to play a partTommy Boys Artwork exactly the way you hear it in your head!

We want to make recordings of our songs that are as true to our vision as possible, so we like the comfort of being at home and having all the time we need to make things sound exactly how we want them to sound. Most people don’t realize how affordable recording equipment has become in the last 10-20 years; for the price of about a week in a professional recording studio, you can buy all the equipment you need to record professional-quality guitar, bass, and vocal tracks on your own. (Drums are a completely different story, that’s why we do them in the studio!) So it’s a really good way for us to record our music–we get all the time in the world to be perfectionists, and the recording quality is basically exactly the same as what you get at a professional studio. It’s definitely a lot more work doing things this way versus just banging the whole record out in the studio with a producer, but the end result is worth the effort!

SM: “Friends in Theory” is the song we’re premiering today. Tell me about it. What was the inspiration?

Robbie: ‘Friends in Theory’ is a song about maintaining relationships with old friends that you eventually lose touch with. You still call these people your friends despite the fact that you rarely speak to each other, and you might not even really like each other that much. You were just friends out of convenience or boredom. I’ve found that as time passes, your group of friends eventually dwindles down to just a few important people that you keep close, and you love those people.

Daren: Musically, the song was inspired by the main (intro) riff which I basically accidentally came up with in 30 seconds at band practice. All of our songs start with one cool part and then I just write the rest of the music to fit with it. On this song I challenged myself to write something really catchy, but without having a chorus or really any repeated sections at all except the main riff. It’s fun to give yourself little restrictions and challenges like that when you’re creating art, because it forces you to do interesting/unique things that you might not have otherwise thought of.

SM: What’s next for Tommy Boys?

TB: We’re stoked to release our music and start touring the country. We’ve worked on this record for a long time and we’re eager to share our music with the world!

11/12 Denver, CO @ Skatuary
11/13 Omaha, NE @ Sokol Underground
11/14 Barrington, IL @ Penny Road Pub
11/15 Ypsilanti, MI @ Maidstone Theatre
11/16 Lakewood, OH @ Mahalls
11/17 Clifton, NJ @ Dingbatz
11/18 Brooklyn, NY @ Coco 66
11/19 Richmond, VA @ The Canal Club
11/20 Marietta, GA @ Swayzes
11/21 Orlando, FL @ Bombshells
11/22 Tampa, FL @ The Market on 7th
11/24 Houston, TX @ Walters
11/25 San Antonio, TX @ Backstage Live-Tequila Room
11/26 Dallas, TX @ The Curtain Club
11/28 El Paso, TX @ Low Brow Palace
11/29 Tempe, AZ @ 51 West
11/30 Las Vegas, NV @ Eagle Hall
12/1 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Shred Shed
12/2 Boise, ID @ The Shredder
12/3 Spokane, WA @ The Hop
12/4 Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
12/6 Sacramento, CA @ The Witch Room
12/9 Van Nuys, CA @ White Oak Hall
12/11 Riverside, CA @ Clash City Studios