Posted July 27, 2020 by Jeff in Tunes

Jukebox the Ghost’s Tommy Siegel Makes a Political Statement With Solo Debut

Tommy Siegel
Tommy Siegel

Jukebox the Ghost’s Tommy Siegel applies his power-pop skills to his debut solo album, Another Century Wasted, an album reflects the “many anxieties of American life in the Trump era.”

He just released the quirky, Talking Heads-like opening track, “Dog Down,” and the album arrives on Aug. 21.

Also a cartoonist, Siegel made the album as part of a personal challenge to draw a comic every day for 500 days, the results of which gained an international following of hundreds of thousands across social media. Siegel even received shoutouts from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ringo Starr.

Siegel will release I Hope This Helps, a collection of cartoons and essays, this October via Andrews McMeel. 

Working under the theory that “art flourishes best under structural limitations,” Siegel gave himself rules for the project. Namely, every song must have cowbell, congas, two guitars (panned right and left, in a dialogue of alternating polyrhythmic patterns) and bass that solely determines the chord movement underneath.

Siegel would often start the process with the rhythm section, jamming with self-created modal loops until a song emerged. By focusing entirely on what rhythmic space remained for each instrument, polyrhythmic tapestries slowly formed, creating an unusual sense of depth with only a handful of limited instruments. Drummer and engineer John Thayer (Arp) and keyboardist Dave Cohen (Drunken Sufis) contributed to the album, which was recorded at Thump Studio in Brooklyn. It wasn’t until after the record was done that Siegel read that his process was similar to Brian Eno’s tape loop methodology for the Talking Heads album Remain in Light

Though the record is often “dystopian-flavored with an eye on the present hells cape,” it also imagines a life beyond the present day. As Siegel sings in “Starting Now,” “We took all our phones and we made a great fire / And we shook off our bones and chanted around the pyre / And we danced til our feet couldn’t stand / Drunk on a world we’ll never understand / Let me end with the good news: Nothing to win, nothing to lose / Nowhere to be, nothing to do / Everything is starting now.”


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].