Chris Thompson

Percussion

I grew up in Cupertino, California, which is both the cozy suburban home of Apple Computer and a hub of what is still haltingly referred to as the “Silicon Valley.” My high school was definitely not in the business of placing people on the road to becoming professional musicians, so as an aspiring drummer I somehow found my way into a cult-like activity known as drum and bugle corps. I always struggle to find the words to describe this activity; I’ve heard “marching band on steroids” used more than once. Through Zen-like focus and a commitment that borders on the fanatical, (think 12 hour days in the dead of summer running around with fifty pounds of drum strapped to your back) these groups achieve something quite remarkable, especially considering that no member is over the age of 21. But the particular relevance for my future as a musician was that here I was first introduced to the music of composers like Adams, Debussy, Bartok, and Glass, just to name a few. I spent two summers in the Santa Clara Vanguard as a tenor player before I was finished with high school.

Thinking I would major in computer science, I entered UCLA as an undergrad and soon discovered that my interest in computers and electronics, having been basically bred into me, was at that point mainly serving my interest in music. I discovered Aphex Twin and the Chemical Brothers around the same time that I discovered the marimba and vibraphone. After a change of major and some serious catch-up, I felt I had finally found my place, and I ended up double-majoring in performance and composition and continuing with grad school in New York at Juilliard.

These days I’m enjoying the contemporary music scene in New York as a freelancer, and in addition to Alarm Will Sound I play with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), Line C3 percussion group, Knights Chamber Orchestra, and whoever else happens to call. I live in Brooklyn and spend any rarely available free time tinkering with electronic music gadgets and trying to read comics in Japanese.