You’re in a packed club. A band sporting white jumpsuits with outlines of fantastical cartoon animals takes the stage. The band has a peculiar name: Thumpasaurus. The keyboardist starts an infectious groove, and is soon joined by drums, bass, and baritone sax. The party is on.

Frontman Lucas Tamaren takes the mic, singing endearingly simple and sweet lyrics in a sort of theatrical, operatic, gritty falsetto: “You are so pretty / and you are so wonderful / and you are so special / I want you to be mine.” Oh, and there’s a lo-fi PowerPoint projection behind the band featuring photos of none other than actress Jennifer Lawrence.

That’s how the Los Angeles-based outfit opens Live at the Echo, its newest release, which came out earlier this year on April Fool’s Day. A journey for both the eyes and ears, the concert film showcases the band’s jazz-tinged punk-funk-pop. Think catchy songs and danceable grooves with a dash of heaviness and a heaping dose of jaw-dropping jazz and funk chops.

“It’s like trying to get away with as much as we can … seeing how big of a net we can cast onto people,” Tamaren says. “It’s really fun to know that we have the ability to go wherever we want to go, with the umbrella of the Thumpaverse being the thing that ties it all together.”

[Photo: Marc Shapiro – Thumpasaurus, 11/1/21

The Thumpaverse—the band’s mythical universe and the title of its 2021 sophomore album—is a place of radical positivity, extreme silliness, and down-and-dirty funk. The Thump ethos can be somewhat explained with lyrics like “mental karate chopping all the bad thoughts” and “I borrow this body because I like to party” along with songs like “Space Barn” and “I’m Too Funky”. Even songs about darker subjects have a positive spin.

“A lot of things I write are just to get joy and amusement. It’s about not overthinking and having fun,” Tamaren says. “An underrepresented picture, I think, in music and lyrics is how much fun we can be having anytime.”

If the band name sounds familiar, it might be because “Struttin’”, from Thumpaverse, now boasts more than 1.5 million YouTube views and 1.3 million Spotify streams, and was recently featured in a Samsung commercial (which includes a selfie-taking cat, very apropos). The whimsical, driving song, written by Tamaren during COVID, has him, in a country accent, kicking in with, “Here’s my strut, do do do, struttin’ my way on over to you.” The video features Tamaren struttin’ through the desert in chaps (showing off his derriere) walking through a small town and getting the locals to strut with him.

Tamaren can, in part, thank TikTok, where the band has reached an international audience with “Struttin’” clips and dances. The platform, in turn, “lifted all the other boats simultaneously,” he says.

A Party Band From The Start

Thumpasaurus—frontman and guitarist Tamaren, drummer Henry Was, bassist Logan Kane, keyboardist Paul Cornish, and saxophonist Henry Solomon—cut its teeth playing house parties at the University of Southern California, where its members were studying jazz. Tamaren was a film student. The band grew out of a folk group Tamaren was playing with called The Neighbors. That band enlisted Was to produce a recording and play drums on it.

For Was, music and production runs in the family. He is the son of Grammy-winning producer, bassist, and Blue Note Records president Don Was, whose production credits include John Mayer, Bob Dylan, Elton John, and The Rolling Stones, and who also plays bass in Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros. His mother, Gemma Corfield, was an A&R executive at Virgin Records who worked with the likes of Paula Abdul, Shaggy, Aaliyah, and Ziggy Marley. Was’s older brother, Tony Fagenson, went on tour to play drums with Eve 6 when Was was 3.

“I remember him leaving and being like, ‘Oh, this is what we do. This isn’t just what mom and dad do,’” Was says. “I was going to go [to college] for a dual degree in science and music, and I had the opposite of the stereotypical conversation that you have with your parents. My mom sat me down and she was like, ‘Look, don’t do the science. Just do the music,’ and talked me out of it.”

With producer/drummer Was on board, The Neighbors hit the house party scene. The folk music morphed into a louder, more danceable sound. “We were playing for drunk college kids, which we were at that point as well. But it’s hard to keep the attention of everybody,” Was says. “We learned what must have been at least 100 classic songs and how to execute them. And we had our little originals we would play in the context of, how do you entertain people who have no reason to be interested?”


[Photo: Marc Shapiro – Henry Was, 11/1/21]

Playing for ten people turned into playing for hundreds at huge backyard bashes, and by then most of the future Thumpasaurus musicians had been playing with or sitting in with the band.

The name first appeared in a recording session dubbed “The Thumpasaurus Sessions” in 2015. The band as it exists today played its first show in early 2017 when they gathered a small group of friends at a college house to play a new batch of songs set to a PowerPoint presentation. “You Are So Pretty” was among that first batch of songs, and the visuals are a mainstay to this day.

“Lucas was the first guy I met who I felt could write a happy song without making it cheesy in some way, because it was so simple, suspiciously simple, that you’re almost like, ‘How is this a song? This is just ridiculous,’” Was says. “The first album is mostly just lists of things if you listen to it. ‘I’m too funky for this, I’m too funky for that.’ ‘Mental karate choppin’ this, mental karate choppin’ that.’ ‘You are so pretty, you are so wonderful, you are so this.’ Like half of the choruses don’t even have words. So it was like, what is this music? It was so absurd.”

The band released its debut EP, In the Beginning There Was Thump, in 2017, and its first full-length album, The Book of Thump, in 2018. That same year, they signed with a booking agent and started to hit the road.

“We Can Get Away with Anything”

Was isn’t the only one whose parents had an impact on Thumpasaurus. Tamaren’s lyrical approach was shaped by the fact that both of his parents are therapists. While they didn’t spoon-feed him therapy, he says, growing up with them kept him interested in mental health.

“The voice in my head is trying to compartmentalize and figure out how to live in reality. When a little sentence or phrase like ‘mental karate’ pops up in my head, it’s like, ‘Oh, I’ll just grab that one.’ And it’s not even necessarily worrying about being poetic or clever,” he says. “These are literally the live-saving phrases that just run through my head. And then you rhyme a little bit. That’s kind of how those lyrics get made.”

On Thumpaverse, the band stretched its sonic and lyrical boundaries with poppier and heavier songs. But even those darker songs see Tamaren looking towards the light. In the self-explanatory “I’m Pissed”, he proclaims, “Let me work it out through dance.” “Have You Ever Been So Lucky” emphasizes the positive side of breakups, using them as an opportunity for growth: “And then you’ll find someone who isn’t shit / and you’ll be better off for it / and when you’re strong alone at night / then someone comes who loves you right.”


[Photo: Marc Shapiro – Henry Solomon, 11/1/21]

But fear not—the silliness ensues on “Struttin’” and the hyper-funky “Space Barn”, in which Tamaren sings, “There’s a turtle in there / and he doesn’t even care / he’s got a lot of shoes / he doesn’t wanna share.”

The absurdity Was sees in the lyrics translates to ultimate musical freedom in the studio and on stage. “When you’re making a song like ‘Space Barn’, there’s really no rules that apply to it, because what the hell is this to begin with?” Was says. “Same with being on stage. It’s a very free live performance because we all know the songs, but within the confines of knowing the songs, we all kind of play whatever we like all the time. And if it’s radically different, that’s okay. It sets the tone of, ‘This is an experiment, just have at it, go wherever you will.’ If we can get away with these types of lyrics, we can get away with anything.”

Making Moves

Outside of Thumpasaurus, its members keep busy with solo projects and other musical endeavors. Solomon and Cornish toured with HAIM this year. The two of them and Kane have also collaborated with multi-instrumentalist Louis Cole of KNOWER. Was keeps busy as a producer, working with DJ/producer Justin Jay, rapper Isaiah Rashad, and jazz trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf, among others. Tamaren was recently in the U.K. to work on a friend’s offbeat comedy show, writing its score and helping him develop and write the show. He also wrote his own offbeat comedy show on the spot over the course of ten performances.

But come 2023, Thumpasaurus will be firing on all cylinders. With at least an album’s worth of material recorded, next year could bring a new release, and hopefully a national headlining tour with festival dates in the mix. The band also hopes to find a way to play for its newfound international TikTok following.


[Photo: Marc Shapiro – Lucas Tamaren, 11/1/21]

“I think in an ideal world, we’ll live in this pop-adjacent space. I’d love to be the weirdos of pop,” Was says. “It’s definitely the closest we’ve been so far.”

In the meantime, Tamaren plans to shoot some new visuals to incorporate the new material into the live show. “We’re just going to do what we like to do,” he says, “and we want as many people as possible to be there in on the party with us.”

For a complete list of upcoming Thumpasaurus tour dates, head here.