By: Bailey Blaker
After the end of his sophomore year at Kenyon, Thomas Cox ’17 began crafting his first solo album, Tom Spaces Out for a Bit, in his brother’s recording studio in Chicago, Hound House Studios. Cox released the album via his Bandcamp on Sept. 23.
The album features space-themed cover art, and each of its nine song titles references aspects of George Lucas’s Star Wars franchise. The album includes such songs as “Jabba Goes to Pizza Hut” and “Qui-Gon, She Doesn’t Deserve You.”
“I think music in certain situations can definitely suffer from taking itself too seriously,” Cox said of his titles. “Regardless of what’s going on, lyrically or musically, when it comes down to it, it’s just me goofing off.”
Cox was introduced to music at an early age. “Some of my earliest memories are riding around in the car listening to old Bon Jovi records,” he said. Tom Spaces Out For a Bit incorporates Cox’s love of classic rock in its high-tempo drum tracks and high-powered guitar riffs.
The genre also motivated Cox to learn more music. At nine, Cox began taking drum lessons at his local music store. The guitar came soon after, and at 11 he became involved in his first band, Authors and Audio, which has recorded three albums. The last album, recorded in a studio in Nashville during the summer of 2013, is titled The Man with the Octopus Arms; the 17-track project is still one of Cox’s most cherished musical accomplishments.
Anyone who attended Brave Potato’s production of Heathers: The Musical has witnessed Cox’s talent on the drumset first-hand. Emma Brown ’17, the music director of the show, said Cox is skilled not only in his ability to perform across different musical genres, but also in his uncanny talent at recognizing tempo.
Brown will sometimes quiz Cox on the tempo of any piece of music they happen to be listening to. “He can sometimes guess the tempo down to the beat per minute,” she said.
Cox has been involved in several musical ensembles on campus. He played drums for former Kenyon band Trix and the Kids and is currently involved in both the Jazz Ensemble and Motown, a student swing band.
Carolyn Ten Eyck ’18, a fellow Motown and Jazz Ensemble member, described Cox as a natural collaborator. “He’s really receptive to what other people need or what other people are doing and he can adjust really well, which is super important as a drummer,” Ten Eyck said.
While working with other musicians remains Cox’s preferred mode of performing, Tom Spaces Out a Bit was largely a solo enterprise. Using digital recording technology, Cox played all the instrumental tracks on the album himself. He composed the music and lyrics to all the songs as well. “I wanted this project to be something that was 100 percent from me,” he said. He hopes to form a smaller student-musician group later this academic year to perform a live version of his album.
Tom Spaces Out a Bit can be streamed on thomascox.bandcamp.com.