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Talks, Conversations, and Discussions with Thesaurus Rex

It's hard to find bands with such musical talent used to create eccentric story-like songs about horse girls, Julius Caesar, and the character you meet at an art-school college party weighted with relatability, creating complex listening experiences. Yet, Thesaurus Rex, the Brooklyn-based indie-rock band, does that and more with effortless charm. 

Consisting of members Calvin Rezen (Lead Vocals/ Rhythm Guitar), Varun Jhunjhunwalla (Lead Guitar/ Background Vocals), Dan MacDonald (Drums), and Ethan Marsh (Bassist/ Background Vocals), come together to create captivatingly intricate lyrics that connect with so many, all while delivering the most theatrically exuberant live performances where you are bound to feel everything in one night. 

I was lucky enough to sit down with Rezen, Jhunjhunwalla, and MacDonald to discuss the band's origins, live performances, multi-talented background, and so much more. 

(This interview was conducted in person and has been edited for clarity.)

Can you go around and introduce yourself, as well as what you do in the band? 

[Calvin Rezen]: I'm Calvin Rezen. I am the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Thesaurus Rex, and I write most of the songs. 

[Dan MacDonald]: I'm Dan. I play the drums and record us. 

[Varun Jhunjhunwalla]: I'm Varun Jhunjhunwalla, and I play guitar and sing background vocals. 

How did you all meet to create the band it is today? 

[CR]: Thesaurus Rex was born in 2021, right before I went to grad school at Berklee in Hell's Kitchen. We had a different bassist and a different drummer, both old friends, to whom I said, “Let's start up a three-piece project.” But then I got to school and said, “Varun is the greatest guitar player I've ever met in my entire life, and he's down.” I thought it would make the project a lot better because we're very lyric heavy, and not having to lead the entire thing on guitar as well is a real load off. It allows us to do more weird avant-garde performances. So we added Varun in, and then our old drummer had to drop out because she was going on tour, so we added Dan in. 

[VJ]: We went through a bunch of drummers. 

[CR]: Yeah, we had Nate Wallace, and we had our friend Mendeleyve, who's so overqualified to be in a band with us. He's an incredible singer. He was on The Voice. He just went to school with us. He plays every instrument. He's the most talented, but he stood in on drums for us for a couple of gigs. He also played bass for us because Cash, our old bassist, had weird scheduling conflicts and stuff all the time. 

[VJ]: Then we got Dan. 

[CR]: Drumming is such an important part of the cohesion of the sound. So adding Dan was everything. We found Dan because I was in an engineering class, and they needed someone to stand in as the drummer so that they could talk about how to mic a snare drum or something. Dan was just the stand-in drummer that day, and I just said, “Whoa, that guy rips. It's so good.” So when we needed a new drummer, I reached out, and that was the final form. Then we added Ethan, who just moved into Varun's house. 

[VJ]: He was living in a farm commune and decided to move to New York. He was on Facebook Marketplace, and he just ended up at our house, subletting. This guy is probably the greatest musician any of us will ever meet. He's a complete virtuoso on every instrument.

[CR]: Aside from playing bass, he is an incredible guitarist, pianist, and drummer, and we initially had him come on and play fill-in stuff for bass or fill-in stuff for guitar. We just ended up jamming with him a bunch, and then we said, “All right, we're adding you as a solid member.”

Where does the name Thesaurus Rex come from? You're a lyric-heavy band, so what came first, the name or the idea of the band? 

[CR]: Since starting the band, I've always considered this a curation project. Some of the songs we play, I've had for seven or eight years; they're old tunes for me. I have a lot of stuff that I love that's old music that I've written that I would play under my solo project that is good but not right for Thesaurus Rex. I think a lot of our stuff is this curation project that's got this very specific point of view, sense of humor, and wordplay element. I was shopping around for band names for a long time and Thesaurus Rex always just kind of stood out. I think there's a children's book or something called Thesaurus Rex

[VJ]: That's a future lawsuit.

[CR]: Yeah, we're already lawyering up for that, so it's fine. 

Based on this whole wordplay thing, if you guys could describe the band in one word or five words or less, how would you go about describing it? 

[CR]: That means less than 15 words. So I’ll say “The.”

[VJ]: “Band”

[DM]: “Is”

[CR]: I’m kidding. I’m kidding. 

[DM]: We're all-encompassing and we sort of hit all the marks. This is a lot more than 15 words.

[VJ]: Genre fluid. 

[CR]: I don't know if this is in less than 15 words, although maybe that's on brand. Describe us as verbose. Our genre is not the music style; it's the point of view.

[VJ]: Genre is point of view. 

[CR]: There you go. Got it. Also verbose. I get one more for the irony. 

What is your favorite Thesaurus Rex line of all time? 

[CR]: I would love to hear Dan and Varun’s answers. 

[VJ]: I have two. I like the line A-hole in a K-hole all on Daddy's payroll.

[DM]: Holy Matrimony, Batman. I feel like a dog in a CAT scan.

[VJ]: That's the other one. 

[DM]: That's the one that sticks out. 

[CR]: Holy Matrimony, Batman. I feel like a dog in a CAT scan. I like that line too. That's one I think of as a line I'm proud of.

[VJ]: What is the Caesar line? 

[CR]: Caesar was a leader until they seized him with their cleavers, and they watched him bleed in seizure in a treasonous deceit. Probably a little dense to be called a line. 

[DM]: They are all like that.

[VJ]: Every line has numerous meanings, and you discover them, and then you're like, “Do I agree with this?” But you've played the song 15 times already; it's too late. 

[CR]: There's a lot of internal rhymes.

[DM]: Her life's in a stable, condition. 

[CR]: That's a good one. I like the line in The Way You Look at Me, “Oh, you're an artist. I'm so predictable” because this is nerdy music-y of me, but I like that the rhyme scheme for the first two verses establishes that that would be a rhyme line and that it's the third or fourth time that you go through the form, and at that point you get, oh, you're an artist, and it should be a rhyme, but it’s just I’m so predictable. It's unpredictable in that context. 

All of these lines are so full of meaning that I just ask, “How does one come up with them?” What does your writing process look like? 

[CR]: It takes a long time. I'm pretty concerted about telling people that it takes a long time because I think there's a real culture, especially with freestyle, word poets, beat poetry, and stuff about everything being special because it's kind of like off the dome. That's an insanely cool art form that I wish I could do. When I was younger, I would just kind of throw stuff on paper, and as I've gotten more developed with my style, I want it to feel like every part of it is purposeful. Every one of these songs has like four verses that didn't make the cut. It's just about being kind of deliberate with it. I have a dramatic writing background, writing plays and screenplays. You have to tell the story from the beginning, middle, and end, and ensure that the jokes and information are all hitting at the right time. For example, if Maddie gets run over by the horse at the beginning of the bridge, as opposed to the end of the bridge, it just isn’t as funny, and it just doesn't work. You have to have everything worked out.

Some of the stories that you create can be taken literally, and others not as much. How do you go about creating these stories?

[CR]: Maddie is a Horse Girl is certainly not literal in the sense that there's not a person who I think got run over by a horse, but it is literal in that I did work brunch. Maddie is a Horse Girl is a song about betraying your dreams and values, which is why the opening line to the song is “Maddie is a Horse Girl; now she works at Morgan Stanley.” That always gets a laugh, but the reason it gets a laugh is because there's something intrinsically traitorous about someone who has this pure childish relationship with a fantasy, such as wanting to ride horses, and now they work for a giant evil hedge fund corporation. That bitterness is at the center of the song. I'm thrilled that people like that song because I think it's funny, but it's a dark song about life. 

[VJ]: Kind of offensive. We played it for a group of finance bros and they loved it. 

[CR]: I know. People are proud to identify with Maddie. And I'm like, “Really?” We had this gig where everybody worked at Morgan Stanley. They were like, “Yeah, Maddie!” And I'm like, “Stay away from Central Park. You're going to get clobbered.”

At the root of the song, it's about that betrayal of letting go of these dreams, but how did your mind go, to “I'm going to write a song about this horse girl getting run over” to represent that? 

[CR]: That's why it takes so long. The first thing that came to me from that song was the first line of the song, “Maddie is a Horse Girl, and now she works at Morgan Stanley,” and that sat in my notes for a month and a half, two months, before I did anything with it. I just thought, “That's funny, that could be just a bit I say on stage or something. That doesn't have to be a song.” Then I wrote more of the first verse. I had the first verse finished for another whole month and asked, “Where does this go?” because the first verse is about Maddie and her life, and then the second verse introduces me as a character from the first-person point of view. That verse shows how she's being disrespectful at brunch and that was the point where I hit another wall where I said, “I don't know where this goes now.” I'm brainstorming ideas such as “I need to fall in love with Maddie, or Maddie and I need to go on an adventure together, or I've wronged Maddie, or I need to look inward.” There just has to be another third-act thing that happens, which is when I thought of her getting belligerently drunk at brunch, and she goes and finds a horse, and the horse seeks revenge on her. It's the same way you would write a play; you have to fulfill the beginning of the song with the end of the song. The same is true with The Way You Look at Me or any of them, where the first part of The Way You Look at Me is the zipping up your zipper and the button on your blouse, and at the end, it's talking about sexuality and what people are actually after when they're flirting with people at a party. In reality, we're all looking for someone to unzip zippers and take buttons off of blouses. There's something at the top that gets recontextualized by the whole song, and you come out at the end. The end is weird and hard, but you know it's right because it kind of fulfills the promise. 

Do you take part in writing the instruments for each song? 

[CR]: I write the music for the songs. There's an idea of how that should sound in a full band. I would say it's a real collaboration when we're putting together the arrangements. 

[DM]: Before we record anything, we usually play for a while. When I joined, the only song that was out was The Way You Look At Me. The whole production was by Calvin. 

[CR]: Which is why it's not that good. 

[VJ]: Re-release coming soon! 

[CR]: We're going to re-record that one. I love the song and from a personal standpoint, as a producer, it was a good learning experience for me to learn how to produce. Yet, now I'm a way better producer, and I want to have these guys on it because their input is important. I do write the songs, but it's not just my project. I want everyone to feel like they're putting part of their artistic selves into it. 

[DM]: Then for the next three songs, we probably had a month or two of just playing them, and during that time we were playing so many shows. We were learning how people reacted to them and which versions that we played worked and resonated with people. So when it came time to go into the studio to record it, we just did our stuff; we set up microphones and everything, hit record, and ran out and recorded it all. We knew exactly what we were doing, and we've been carrying that forward just with the rest of the music that we're working on now. 

[VJ]: It’s different from most other projects because you'll make the album and then you'll play it live, which is cool because you want to show the album to everyone and promote it, but we get really tired from playing it a hundred times, and we've tried all the different grooves, and on stage sometimes we'll improvise and come up with an idea that didn't exist. Then you go into the studio, and you can knock it out in a few days. It feels authentic. 

[CR]: Personally, I've been so bad at recording for so long. I've wanted to make recorded music for myself since I was 13 or 14 years old and was completely and utterly ill-informed and unable to figure out how to do it. It got to the point where the judgment of whether a song is finished is not whether or not I have a recorded version of it, but instead, a song is finished when I can play it right now. If someone were to ask, “What's that song?” I could play it on an acoustic guitar. The mark of whether a song is ready to go is if it's ready to be put in front of an audience, as opposed to being ready to be sent out to Spotify or something.

What does collaboration look like for the band? How do you go about implementing different influences? 

[CR]: Varun and Ethan have this give-and-take in the stuff that they add to the songs, such as background vocals. 

[VJ]: Dan and Calvin listen to similar music, I would say. A lot of the references they make musically kind of go over Ethan and my head. Ethan and I listen to completely different stuff; he's deep into jazz, and I like jam bandy stuff and some jazz. There's a lot of finding a middle ground. Like, are we adding chord changes and lines to make it complex for no reason? Or is there a way it can blend with the music and have a purpose within the context of the song? For example, in Maddie's a Horse Girl, Maddie gets killed by the horse, and then it's free jazz for a few minutes. Or we've played Spain by Chick Corea in a moment that makes sense. Our influences are very different, and I think they've come together well because there'll be moments of something weird happening musically or something interesting happening musically, but there's that familiarity and respect for the genre. Adhering to a genre that we're in for a specific song. 

[DM]: All that stuff comes out of all of our massive Venn diagrams, sort of coming into that center point. We all love Chick Corea, and we find those bands–not that we want to cover, but to take inspiration from to implement in the production of a song. Sometimes it can sway one way or another, and it will take some convincing from one of us to another. 

[CR]: We would ask, “Is this cool? Or are we doing this for us? Are we doing this for the audience?” Sometimes there's give and take on that too, because sometimes it's fun to spite your audience and do the me channel theme because it's fun to do the me channel theme or something like that. 

[VJ]: The other thing is, Ethan lived in my house for a while, and we lived right next to each other. Often, when we're just hanging out, we try to add harmonies to songs that didn't exist. I think over the last year, we've stacked up a vocal section behind Calvin as well, which has been fun. It's a new color because a four-piece band is great. A lot of the classic bands do that, but then when you add the harmonies with the lyrics that are already so complex, it's just layers on layers. 

[CR]: I think the background vocals are one of the more important things about the sound because background vocals add a layer of complexity and beauty, but they also add this cheesy element, which is right in the sweet spot, you know? We want things to feel a little fake. The aesthetic of the band is very earnest until it kind of reaches up against this thing that's not entirely earnest or is a little cynical or bitter. 

[VJ]: We're pro-cheese. 

[CR]: Yeah, we're pro-cheese. We love cheese. 

The background vocals add a different element that I didn't think it needed. They add that more story-esque/campfire quality to the songs. 

[CR]: I was just going to say a lot of our influences; we're all Beatles fans, and they're a background vocal band. I'm a huge fan of Dr. Dog, they've got some of the most beautiful background vocal arrangements ever. There is a lot of crossover, and there's so much stuff that they know that I've never heard of, and vice versa. I grew up in the emo indie world, and that's something Ethan doesn't have a connection to, and neither does Varun. Dan's got more hardcore influences from psych, such as psych pop. This is why we are more about the performances and the point of view of the songs, as opposed to exclusively being an indie-rock band. 

Who are some of the influences you have individually? 

[VJ]: It's hard to say. 

[CR]: He loves Guns N' Roses

[VJ]: I don't love Guns N' Roses. As a child, I loved Guns N' Roses deeply. 

[CR]: I have an appreciation for Guns N' Roses

[VJ]: In India, it was a big band. It didn't have the same connotation as it does over here. 

[CR]: No, but I love that too because it's apparent in your playing because Slash is a great guitar player. In modern American culture, they're a dad rock band, but it makes sense that in other places in the world, they would just be like Zeppelin; they're a seriously well-appreciated band. 

[VJ]: Aside from Guns N' Roses. I think Pink Floyd, definitely. Grateful Dead recently. The Beatles are an all-time favorite. For guitar playing, John Mayer is cool and then there is a lot of miscellaneous jazz/ and recently a lot of experimental stuff has been nice, and a lot of Indian music is in the back of my mind.

[DM]: I grew up playing drums to Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and Zeppelin. Then, as I started making music, I got into Tame Impala and Boards of Canada. Turnstyle has great records when I make a hardcore poppy song. All sorts of things. Lots of Electronica and Vaporwave too. I try to pull from everything and just listen to everything and get something from it. 

[CR]: I'm a pretty big Bowie fan. I was in a Bowie tribute band when I was 20 years old. I’m a huge Dylan fan, and I love The Beatles, and a lot of this is classic 60s stuff, The Who. As for modern stuff, Dr. Dog. I love the Arctic Monkeys. I think Alex Turner is an insanely good writer and a great storyteller. The Flaming Lips are insane. I'm from Jersey, and there are a lot of Jersey Pride bands that are from our area, like Vampire Weekend, Pine Grove, and The Front Bottoms. There's some good indie music that has come out of Jersey in the last 20 years that you're very proud of as a high school kid to be like, “Damn straight, that's coming out of my area.” 

I haven't touched on your live performances yet, which is a huge element of this band that is important. What is your favorite part of performing and live music? 

[CR]: I like pulling out the rubber chicken on stage. That's fun. 

[DM]: Favorite parts of playing? I like getting sweaty and playing loud. 

[CR]: We like getting sweaty and playing loud.

[DM]: The sweatier the show, the better it is. We played Hartbar, and that was by far the grimiest, sweatiest show, and it was insane. It was disgusting. I was soaking wet outside for, like, an hour and a half or something. 

[CR]: Last summer was so hot, and we had a show there, but we also had a show at Rockwood, and they had like zero air conditioning. Even in a well-chilled room, you're putting your all into playing. You're like, “I'm soup right now.” Besides that, I love the in-between song bits. I'm relatively proud of it because I have an improv background and have done some comedy stuff. So getting access to be in front of an audience and playing around with the crowd a little is the best. I feel much more confident on stage in a lot of ways than I do off-stage. When you're up there and people are in it, you can kind of push.

[VJ]: Initially, I enjoyed us locking in over the first six months and having a super tight set. Nowadays, when we do things that are not planned, it has been a lot of fun. Such as the free jazz, when someone's taking a solo and you mess it up, or Calvin and I playing each other's guitar at the same time. Now that the set is so locked in, it's more about the unpredictable, unplanned things that are doing it for me. 

Do you guys enter a mindset on stage? Or do you guys have a persona you try to emulate? Because you all have an incredible stage presence that makes it difficult to just look at one member. 

[CR]: I don't want to speak for Ethan, but it was an important thing when we were thinking about adding him to the band. He's an incredible bassist; will he dance, though? And he does; he dances so much, but we're thankful for that because so many bassists will just stand there and I need this to feel exciting. It shouldn't feel as if we're all just showing up here to play this song. 

[VJ]: I know the mindset he gets into. He's playing jazz gigs every day and playing the most complex music, and then he comes to play with us, and it's not, not complex but it's so much easier than that. I don't even think he's thinking about the instrument. He's just in the zone, he is one with his body. He's dancing, and he happens to be playing bass at the same time. 

[CR]: I wonder what he was thinking when he broke the strings at Our Wicked Lady

[VJ]: He broke the bass strings. It makes no sense. I don't know if it's ever been done.

[CR]: It doesn't happen. He didn't break a string. He broke two strings, which are the thickest bass strings, they're made of steel. He ripped two pieces of steel in half in the process of playing, so yeah, he's got great stage presence. 

[CR]: I have a theater background and I take stage presence super seriously. I wouldn't have asked these guys to be in the band if they weren't showing up with it. We think about the live show first before we think about the recording process. Recording is so much easier than it used to be, where people think about doing music as this quiet thing that you do in your bedroom, and then you have to figure out how to translate it into a live event. My mentality is that the music is the live event that is the experience of seeing Thesaurus Rex. We have a theme song. We're here to create an incredible experience for people to have–that's a full, multifaceted artistic experience. Dan also plays harder than any drummer in New York City.

[DM]: Trademark it. 

[VJ]: I'm honestly still working on the stage presence thing, but it helps to look behind and see Dan's cymbals flying off the kit, and then you have Ethan just fully dancing and fully doing a choreographed dance on one side. 

[DM]: It's insane. These venues have to start getting wingnuts for their cymbals because they keep falling off. 

[CR]: One of the biggest issues we're coming through as a band is our unintentional destruction of material. Nirvana and The Who would go in and smash guitars, but that was very deliberate. I would describe us more as kind of klutzy. 

[VJ]: It's like Dan's hand is bleeding all over the place. 

[DM]: I go to the sound tech, and I go, I'm sorry. 

[CR]: We played a show in Vermont where, after the show, we looked at Dan's snare drum and it was covered in blood, like so much blood. It happened to me too when we played The Woods. I just ripped a cuticle or something, but when you're moving your hand, your blood is pumping, and I didn't see it. I didn't notice until three or four days later, when I opened up my guitar case, and there was blood all over the front of my guitar and I was just petrified. 

So much goes into your performances, so are there any pre-show or after-show rituals that you have? 

[DM]: Before this month, I would always make sure I went on stage with a beer or water and an energy drink or something. I got everything: I can have some fun, I can get hydrated, and I can get a little hyper. Everything I need, it's there. 

[CR]: I don't drink on stage anymore because I've started burping in the middle of shows like I'll be in the middle of a song and I'm like, “Here's the big line I have to deliver and I'm like, oh no, I should not have had the second modello.” So mostly water but we don't have rituals. We sometimes will do a little pre-show, like, “Let's get out there kind of thing.” But we don't have anything.

[VJ]: I carry water on stage because it gets hot and it gets dry. We don't do much. 

[CR]: I feel as if the show has a real kind of opening ritual and a real closing ritual to the show, which is getting more and more developed because we have this theme song and I'm writing an ending song for us right now, spoiler alert. The show feels like it's got a shape to it; as opposed to just being a series of songs, a lot of that stuff ends up coming out on stage. 

What are your favorite songs to perform? 

[DM]: Bachelor’s Wife is pretty fun; you get to ride that groove through the whole thing. You just get to ride that the whole time. Dumpster Fire is super fun; it can get pretty unhinged and go off the rails. 

[VJ]: I like Fad. The funk is nice to have in the middle of the set. I Won't Hold My Breath is good; you can kind of go crazy on that. It's like the loudest one.

[CR]: I think Fad is fun. Horse Girl is fun because the audience loves it, but it's a different kind of fun. In the sense that it's like I'm telling a joke that I've told a lot of times at some point. Fad is intrinsically a dance tune. I like doing The Way You Look At Me because that's a joke I like to tell and because they all get to take solos, and I like getting to see them play around. That one's always a little different or something. There's an improv element to it, which is cool. 

I can't ignore it. You guys just released a new single, I Won't Hold My Breath, and you spoke about how you perform it a lot before even recording it. How did you go about choosing that song to record and release next? 

[CR]: It's the only one that was good. No, no, no, I'm joking. 

[VJ]: It's just progress. We're working on so many songs at the same time, and then some just feel more ready. I feel like the other songs are more complex in their production than I Won't Hold My Breath. We just happened to meet on a certain day, and we managed to get a lot of the parts done that day. We were just feeling the inspiration for it, and I think that's why I just took the lead. 

[CR]: Before, we were working on a series of singles, and we've been working on this EP, which is going to be released as a series of singles, for the last six months. We're getting to the point where it's ready. So I Won't Hold My Breath is the first of a series of songs that we're going to do this proper rollout of. Mostly because we're learning how to do rollouts, which is a huge thing. I mean, this has been nothing crazy or special, but for us, it has been relatively successful. Normally it would take a couple of weeks or a couple of months to get past that thousand listens on the Spotify threshold, but we just hit 2000 in a week. We're very proud of the fact that, from our Instagram following and from the people who have been showing enthusiasm about the band, it's mostly people who have seen us play live, and there's just something about that that feels communal and grassroots. Like, we're not an internet band. We’ve played with a lot of people who we love but who are definitely into the TikTok thing or are trying to make algorithm-y stuff. 

[DM]: There's super-tapped in online. We're like, How do you do that? 

[CR]: And we're figuring out that; it's a whole science. It's very different from the live aspect, but having people that are following us, messaging us, and coming out to see us multiple times, it's so cool that we've got return customers and people who want to be part of the grassroots of it all. I Won't Hold My Breath was just ready to come out. 

Can we expect anything new in the next month or so? Or is it not planned? 

[CR]: Dumpster Fire is coming out soon. We're thinking it's probably going to come in July. We're making a music video with my brother. We're trying to make a lot of music videos right now because the big thing is just getting visuals to go along with these songs. We're waiting on Horse Girl, mostly because- 

[VJ]: Horses are expensive.

[DM]: We need to figure out a way to get the horse into the studio. It's a small elevator. 

[VJ]: Compress the horse and upload it. It's a whole thing. 

[CR]: We've been trying to do the Horse Girl thing through Google Drive, but we were talking to the guy from Google, and he can't get a horse into Google Drive because it's too many gigs. 

[VJ]: Too much horsepower. 

That's a good one. Okay, last question before my spitfire questions. Where is Thesaurus Rex going? Where is the band going? What's next? 

[CR]: We're going to the top, baby! 

[VJ]: As long as we get to play Coachella once, I'm okay with leaving the band. 

[CR]: I'm leaving the band after Bonnaroo. 

[CR]: Our plan this year was to play less in the city and play more outside the city, but we've failed fantastically at that plan, and we play in the city all the time now. We talked to some people who have given us some advice, and Brooklyn is huge, and there's still a whole untapped market of people to get there who we think would love our stuff. We've got a lot of New York stuff in our songs too, so our stuff does pretty well here. So I think we're trying to become a pretty good little mainstay here in the city. 

[VJ]: We've been playing in the park. That's been lovely. 

[CR]: We're playing in the park on the weekends. At one point in my life, I would have been like, “Oh no, we're going to become a park band.” But now, with the ethos, I'm like, we get to be a park band because it's a treat. We're trying to become a little staple in the old community. It's been great. I don't know what it is–if it's just us having some push or if it's just because it's been long enough since COVID or something–but it feels like there's a lot of bands in the area right now that are rock bands that just feel like there's a lot of small world stuff all of a sudden. I think it's because maybe a lot of bands broke up right before or during COVID, and now all of the bands have been around for like two years, and that's long enough to kind of foster a little bit of a community. We've got tons of sister bands, friends, and people we love and trust around us. So we're going wherever they go. 

It's true, I even discovered you guys because one of the members from Boys Go To Jupiter said, “Thesaurus Rex are some of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met,” and that's why I went to the following show. 

[CR]: Boys Go to Jupiter is our official. We have not officially written down this contract, but it is the case. They are our official best friend band. The rule is, and you can put this–

[DM]: Make sure this gets transcribed correctly. 

[CR]: Yeah, this is important because this will be the actual living document. The rule is that if any member of Boys Go to Jupiter, which is saying something because that's a lot of people, is at any Thesaurus Rex show or vice versa and we happen to have a small percussion instrument, like a tambourine or a cowbell or something, we are legally allowed to go up on stage for one song and play said instrument. 

Spitfire questions, What is on repeat for you guys right now? What are you obsessed with at the moment? 

[CR]: We're just listening to Justice, which is so awesome. 

[VJ]: Golden Ladies, Stevie Wonder. 

[CR]: I'm on a Pine Grove kick again, because it's that time of year when I'm feeling sentimental again because the seasons are changing. I'm like, “I got to listen to Aphasia by Pine Grove.” 

[DM]: E-Pro by Beck

[VJ]: Finally Alone by Mac DeMarco is very nice. I'm in a Mac DeMarco phase of my life. 

[CR]: Obviously, the new Vampire Weekend album. It's one of my favorite things ever. 

[DM]: You just put that album on, and every song is amazing. 

[CR]: Their production is so good. It's such a good example of simple, old-school songwriting that they've added interesting modern elements to it. 

[VJ]: I heard Grace by Jeff Buckley for the first time, and I think I played it at least 200 times in the past two weeks. It was probably one of the best things I've heard.

What's your favorite show you've ever played? 

[CR]: I liked playing Brooklyn Made. That was probably one of our most fun shows. The crowd was incredible. A couple of those Our Wicked Lady shows were also great. 

[DM]: That whole stretch of shows between Our Wicked Lady and then the Brooklyn Made shows. The Our Wicked Lady shows were great because we were playing the best we've ever had and doing that week by week. It's like each week we play our best set ever.

[CR]: It was a battle of the bands. We got asked to do it at the last minute for the first round. Varun and Ethan were in India. It was just me and Dan, and we got Luke from Boys Go to Jupiter to fill in on bass, and our friend Jordan to fill in on guitar. Then we added Ethan the next week, and then we added Varun the following week, and we were getting stronger. It was heroic. 

[VJ]: I enjoyed Canary Club, Unplugged. I think that was one of the coolest things. It was a small show, but it was just so exciting because it was fresh and new stuff. It was a cool sound, I’m sure people think we sound better unplugged than plugged. 

[DM]: A lot of people heard us there for the first time. I would do more of those banjo sets. 

[CR]: Every time we've played Sultan Room, it's been fun. I just love the room, they're cool, and it's a cool place. Some of the old shows too. The first show we played with Dan was the craziest show ever because the drum kit almost fell off the stage and the people we were playing said, “I'll help hold it on stage.”

[VJ]: So he sat on the kick drum, and Dan’s playing super loud. 

[CR]: I was like, You're gonna blow your ears out. 

Is there a song you wish you wrote or created?

[CR]: I wish I had written the Rembrandts, I'll Be There For You, so I would have made a million dollars. That's what Taylor Swift said. Put this in writing: I'm taking her down right now. She got asked that question, and they were like, “What's a song you wish you wrote?” And she's said, “I wish I wrote the theme song to Friends, so I would have made a million dollars.” You're already a billionaire, lady. Just say a good song by Carol King or James Taylor

[DM]: Virtual Insanity. If I could be in that music video and be Jamiroquai and run around in a moving room, that would be super sick. 

[VJ]: I'm going to jump in on that. 

[DM]: Sabotage by the Beastie Boys would be sick.

[CR]: There's a billion Beatles songs I wish I wrote. 

[VJ]: Across the Universe by the Beatles

[CR]:  I think The Breeze by Dr. Dog is one of my favorite songs, and I wish I had written that one.

Favorite musician or band of all time? 

[DM]: Zach Hill. Crazy drummer. 

[VJ]: Beatles, George Harrison. It's kind of cheesy, but him. 

[CR]: If I could only listen to one, I'd have to say the Beatles too. It feels silly to say that, but I couldn't give it up. 

[VJ]: They just played every song there is, and now all songs since then are variations of Beatles songs. 

[CR]: It's kind of lame too, but for like four years running, my top Spotify artist was the Beatles, and every year I'd be like, “Come on, Calvin, be more original,” but they invented the genre; they're the best. 

If you could force everyone in the world to listen to one album for the rest of their lives, what would that be? 

[CR]: Grace by Jeff Buckley

[VJ]: Whoa, that's a good answer. Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd

[DM]: Random Access Memories comes to mind, Daft Punk. It has everything great about Daft Punk, and then even more. Daft Punk is one of my favorite groups ever, or Discovery, if you watch Interstellar 5555. It's an anime with Discovery as a soundtrack, and it is track by track with insane visuals.

[CR]: I'd say Hunky Dory by David Bowie. I like that album because he's a super young songwriter, and you can kind of tell, and it's a bit of a roadmap as to how to put together a creative process. I love that album. 

Be on the lookout for Thesaurus Rex's new single, Dumpster Fire, set to release next month!

Check out and follow their social media pages for show announcements!

Interviewed by Veronica Anaya 

Photographed by Amanda Whitely (Photo #1), Niko Stycos (Photo #2), and No Exit Fiction (Photo #3)

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