Nothing’s original anymore.
But Daniel John, the driving force behind Madison Wisconsin’s Tom Grrrl has found a way to make the impossibility of true originality work. He takes the classic Kurt Vonnegut quote, “everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt” and changes it to “everything was cliché, and nothing was original.”
Which is too bad, because Tom Grrrl is actually refreshingly imaginative. Almost, dare we say, original?
The creativity flowing out of John is like a river; you never step in the same water twice. His sound (and stage name) is constantly changing. When he moves to a new city, which he’s done many times now, he becomes a brand new kind of musician.
When he lived in San Diego, he went by Jehovah Fitness, which grabbed punk rock by the horns and played harsh and fast. After San Diego, John moved to Austin, Texas where he started messing around with different instruments.
“Moving to Austin was a clean slate where I wanted to do something different,” he tells BTRtoday.
Tom Grrrl was the product of being alone in a new city and having time alone. John explains that when he first moved to Austin he had a lot more time to experiment with new instruments and effects.
He’s been in Madison for almost two years and has fully embraced his Tom Grrrl side.
“Growing up I was always so fascinated by Bikini Kill,” John says about this project being inspired by Kathleen Hanna. “They were such a fucking cool band and being in a position where I wanted to do something different, I was listening to a lot of that.”
Tom Grrrl is catchy both musically and vocally. Tracks like “Close To Me” and “Yer Bebop” have beats that are easy to tap a foot to and lyrics you’ll want to sing along with. That said, we wouldn’t recommend hiring Tom Grrrl for your kids’ birthday party. He’s still punk rock at heart with distorted guitar riffs and songs with themes of sexuality and abandonment.
Currently, he’s concentrating on refining his sound. With John busy refining and his original band mate Rachel back in Austin, the project is moving slow. However, he assures us that Tom Grrrl is still making progress.
“I feel like I have at least an album and a half worth of music that is yet to be released,” he says about the future of this project. “There isn’t that same pressure, so maybe we’ll actually get around to putting something together that we feel 100 percent confident behind.”
If everything has already been done, then Tom Grrrl is mimicking something no one else is doing right now.