The undrummed song


Tom Dunbar photographed by Joseph Hammond

[W]hen musician and songwriter, Tom Dunbar, decided to learn guitar as a teen, he had one motive: impressing girls. But since then, Dunbar has developed his skills and sits comfortably in a place between his love of music and his love for swooning women.

Featured on CBC Music, Dunbar’s band The Undrummer loosely fits the genre of experimental and gospel. Despite this, Dunbar admits to finding inspiration for material from listening to “raunchy hip-hop and rap.”

His love for urban music triggered his release of a hip-hop album named “Filth Collins” last year, while going to Ryerson as a third-year cultural studies major.

This Pickering-native was initially inspired to take guitar lessons as a teen by his friend’s older brother, who manipulated his instrument to attract girls. Dunbar then joined five different rock-punk bands in his career until he got tired of playing under other people’s artistic direction. He decided to venture out and create his own band, The Undrummer, as a solo act in 2007. The band gained its name because of its lack of a drummer.

Today, the band has six members, including Dunbar as the leading singer/songwriter, a keyboard player, a bass player, two female vocalists and his brother Kyle Dunbar who was added to the band in 2010 to play the drums; making the band’s name an ironic play on reality. They played their first show in January 2010, and play an average of one show a month every year.

Besides being an avid songwriter who produces a new song every week for fun, Dunbar also teaches guitar and vocal lessons on his spare time. His eclectic vision for music drove him to make his latest addition to the band: two female vocalists. According to Dunbar, the two girls, Erin Shadoff and Fijal Rehnane, didn’t consider themselves to be singers before they joined. He made a specific point to choose these two for their inexperience, in order to have a potent influence on their voices and train them to sing a specific way.

“I didn’t want girls who have pretty voices because I think that’s overdone and boring. I wanted gritty voices or something like Coco Rosie,” Dunbar says. “Even my voice is pretty ugly and growly, but at least it’s mine.”

According to Dunbar, The Undrummer’s trademark is their raw, experimental sound. To maintain this, Dunbar produces most of the band’s music with simple software like GarageBand and declines the notion that their sound will ever become ‘not experimental’ or ‘definite’.

“I don’t like the idea of genres, I like to challenge myself so I’m a huge contradiction,” Dunbar says.

Once he graduates, Dunbar hopes to continue growing as a songwriter and pursue a musical career in Toronto. He also ambitiously looks forward to develop a whole new sound for The Undrummer.

“I want our sound to be bigger, more gospel and uplifting, something that really sends a shiver down your spine.”

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