By Emilie Fleuette
By Katie Ebel
As the Tomato Dodgers prepare to release their first album and embark on another tour, The Writer’s Bloc had the opportunity to sit down with the three consistent members and discuss their band, The Void and VoidLife Records. Living in a house called The Void, Tomato Dodgers have created a venue for performances ranging from bands to burlesque shows to showcase their talents in a safe space.
The band is comprised of Asher Meerovich, the lead singer and guitarist who graduated with degrees in philosophy and Jewish studies from this university in 2016; Pete Myers, the drummer and a senior economics major at this university; and Tera Stanton-Duffer, who plays the keyboard, percussion, glockenspiel and does vocals, and graduated with a degree in biology in 2013.
“The three of us are kind of the core,” Meerovich said. “There are many others who come in and out over the course of the shows. We have different line ups for different shows.”
These different line ups will be showcased this spring in their fourth tour, which will stop by South by Southwest in March.
Katie: Can you guys go over again how you guys met and initially started playing music together?
Asher: Pete and I met while I was playing guitar on the mall, the UMD campus mall. I was just playing guitar outside and Pete saw me, I guess, while walking around and he came over and was like ‘Yo, I’m going to eat my sandwich and listen to you play guitar’ and I was like ‘Alright’ and he was like ‘I’m going to go get my djembe’ and then he got his djembe and we started jamming and that was that.
Pete: And then it’s fate, just fate from there on out.
K: How did you find other band members?
Asher: Tera and I actually met before that, but we didn’t realize we could be in a band together.
Tera: No, but we’d played music together because Asher left a note on my desk saying ‘We should play guitar sometime’ in our metametaphysics class.
K: Where do you want Tomato Dodgers and The Void to go in College Park and, ultimately, when you guys leave, which I assume you will?
Asher: Further into The Void.
Tera: Let’s die in College Park.
K: What have you guys been doing musically recently?
Asher: We’re working on our album right now, we’re producing the album. And playing shows — those are pretty much the things a band does.
Pete: And experimentation.
K: What’s going to be different about this next tour?
Asher: Different people. We’re going to have a different bass player. We’re not going to have Tera. It’s all kind of vague at this point, but it hasn’t happened yet so we can’t know for sure how it’s going to happen.
K: Can you explain the concept of your video? Do you want it to be a representation of what you want your shows to look like?
Asher: That kind of is what our shows look like, honestly.
Pete: It’s a very exaggerated version of what our shows look like.
Tera: It’s like we took what we try to do at our shows and took the essence out of ourselves and put it into the video.
Asher: Which is really the purpose of shows. It’s what we want the shows to do to people: let them become us. So then there can be lots of Tomato Dodgers running around, playing music, rescuing Jeaux Phred, all that stuff.
Tera: Cherry Tomato Dodgers.
Asher: Like little baby tomatoes just running around, screaming.
K: So the previous renters were in a band and now you guys are. Was this house passed down to you?
Asher: The music house was passed down to us and it helped that we were already in a band.
Tera: But wherever we moved to, we were going to do this.
Pete: This became The Void, though. Like we raised The Void and then this became The Void.
K: Did you already have the name before you moved in?
Asher: We did?
Pete: Well, we had the concept. It’s actually a very deeply ingrained part of —
K: What music influenced you guys individually and how did you guys come together to create the sound you have now?
Asher: I like Phish a lot. But I also like high-energy punk music and stuff like that. So, I brought a lot of energy and a little bit of jam-y-ness to the table, I think. And a lot of weird commentary on the world, like Frank Zappa.
Pete: I like anything with rhythm. I listen to a lot of hip-hop, funk, reggae. I kind of just appreciate varied rhythms in whatever form that comes in.
Tera: I always have a tricky time with this question. I think the thing I bring to the table most often is more pop, more laid back, like Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson kind of stuff.
K: Can you talk about the songwriting process or do you guys just jam until something comes out of it?
Asher: I write most of the lyrics. Tera writes lyrics too.
Tera: We write together.
Asher: We work on lyrics and melodies together, but we jam the riffs separately and we kind of combine the riffs that we’ve jammed with lyrics that Tera and I have written. And they meet halfway there. Pete and I jam a lot and we have this stockpile of riffs and songs and stuff and we’ll just merge them with lyrics when the time is ready.
Tera: But a lot of it is just taken from the world around us. Especially on lyrics. We’ll just be jamming and the lyrics will happen based on what we heard that day or what someone on Twitter was quoted as saying.
Asher: Like I didn’t really kill my friend’s aunt and have sex with — ya know whatever the song is about, but it could’ve happened. And it could’ve happened here.
Tera: I don’t know if I agree with that.
K: Can you explain the record label you guys have now.
Asher: We put out music that we like by artists we feel a connection to and we have them play here whenever possible. And we set up shows other places. And it’s like a big old family, a big old Void family where we put out each other’s music and lick each other and do shows and stuff.
Tera: Did you say like or lick?
K: Just College Park bands?
Asher: Nope, we have a band from D.C., we have a band from New Orleans on there. And we put out music, we have tapes and all that stuff.
K: Do you guys want to pass the house down or keep doing your own thing?
Asher: We’ll do our own thing with it until the time comes to pass it down, and if we are going to pass it down, I would like to pass it down to someone who wants to pick it up, ya know?
Tera: Would we pass it down as The Void?
Asher: It depends who we’re passing it down to.
Emilie Fleuette is a senior broadcast journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
C Dylan Hinds of Loud Dudes LLC recorded and mixed the audio and can be reached at email@example.com.
Katie Ebel is a junior English major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.