By Dorvall Bedford
The band members of T.M.M. gathered their friends from Prince Frederick Hall one Sunday afternoon in 2018 and brought them into the lounge. John Ball, the band’s producer and self-described attaché, had set up a pair of microphones in the room.
Everyone came together to record T.M.M.’s song “Timmy Stroika Noika.” The band was looking for shouting that resembled a Russian bar, Ball said.
“Give me your best drunk Russian,” he told the crowd.
The students all sang the backing vocals for the track. It was an aggressive, explosive sound, Ball said.
“At one point it really does sound like you’re in this old, Russian bar and everyone’s had a few too many vodka shots,” he said.
“Timmy Stroika Noika” became a part of “In Search of Something New,” the band’s second album. It was released in August of 2019 along with other songs like “Guess Who I Saw Today,” “Milkman” and “Route 32.” Ever since forming the band in the Fall of 2017, T.M.M. has been working on producing the best music they can, according to Ball.
“We want each album to be better than the last,” he said.
Timothy Henderson, Matthew Graber, Matthew Vorsteg and Ball met each other during their freshman year a little over three years ago. They all belonged to an honors program called Design Cultures & Creativity and lived in Prince Frederick Hall.
The name of the band has two meanings, according to Graber. It can either stand for Tim, Matt and Matt or Too Many Matts. T.M.M. was originally intended to be the name of a radio show that was passed up by WMUC. Graber, Vorsteg and Henderson decided to create a band instead.
T.M.M.’s music comes in a unique flavor. Henderson said the best way to describe its sound is “dad music.”
“It’s playful and fun,” he said. “We make a lot of jokes in our songs.”
Henderson said that T.M.M. is very acoustic and country along with a blues influence.
When comparing “Songs of Life and Living,” the first album the band released in 2018, to the second album, Ball said there was a lot of evolution sonically between the two. The first album was instrumentally limited and it was recorded within only four weeks. There was no bass and bongos were the only percussion. “Songs of Life and Living” took inspiration from classic American blues and American rock.
“It’s kind of like very Jimmy Buffet classic rock,” Ball said. “In a way it’s semi satirical.”
“In Search of Something New” has more experimentation because of songs like “Timmy Stroika Noika,” he said.
“Album Two was sort of this sonic blooming of the band,” Ball said. “It was a lot of fun to put together, but it took a much longer time.”
A third album is currently in the works, Graber said. Ten songs have been written so far, but the coronavirus pandemic has prevented any attempt to record them. The sound studio provided by the Design Cultures & Creativity program is currently closed and practice rooms at the Clarice are limited to only students majoring in music.
Graber said the only option the band has at the moment is to record in their noisy apartments.
The T.M.M. sound is driven completely acoustically, Ball said. It is critical for the band to have a good space in order to get a good sound.
“To make our music right we need a really well-controlled sonic environment,” he said.
Vorsteg said the band will try its best to make the third album happen even if the pandemic does not end.
When looking back at the second album, Ball said he knows T.M.M. could have done better. He does not want to comprise the quality of the third album by not recording it in a sound studio, but he also sees this as a unique challenge.
“As a recording engineer, it’s kind of this incredible test of skill,” Ball said. “I think that’s sort of the attitude I’m going to take with it.”
T.M.M.’s future is uncertain since all four band members will be graduating in the Spring of 2021. The third album might be the last, according to Ball.
“If it is, we want to make it go out with a bang,” Graber said.
Music by T.M.M. can be found on Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Music and other digital music providers.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of T.M.M. and their Instagram account.
Dorvall Bedford is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.