Victims of the New Math is composed of the singer-songwriter team of Thomas Young and Joseph “Joe” Young, two brothers who can’t seem to escape from the mid-‘60s-to-early-‘70s pop-rock era–even though they were (a little) too young to have listened to music at that time. Thomas is 47, Joe is 53. So they didn’t start paying much attention to music until the latter ’70s. But even though they love all kinds of music from all eras, every time they write a song, it always ends up sounding like it came from that era.
However, don’t expect them to do covers of any oldies – they write all-original songs because, says Thomas, “We’re just too lazy to remember things like words to songs… so if we screw up the lyrics of our songs, no one will know the difference.” Actually, if they’re not careful, some of the songs from their latest album, Satellite Head, just might become popular… so they may need to brush up on singing them.
For Thomas and Joe, music is their passion and their hobby. Their goal has never been to make lots of money or to be famous musicians. Joe was born in Burbank, California, and Thomas was born in Boston. Their dad was in the military, so they travelled around a lot. That’s why they’re so close – they didn’t know anybody in the new places, so it was just the 2 brothers and sister Sue. They’ve been doing their music off and on since the ‘80s, Thomas starting out on the guitar and Joe playing keyboards. They would jam together, and write songs. After Joe got recording equipment, they started recording.
In the ‘90s, they took a break for awhile, going to college and starting their careers and their families. Then about 10 years ago, they released their first CD, Set Theory Infinity, and chose a name for the band: “Victims of the New Math.” Their band name is kind of humorous and maybe appropriate. It has a certain rebellious connotation, required of a ‘60s kind of band – alluding to a time when innovations like New Math were all the rage – and Thomas and Joe apparently never entirely escaped from the clutches of mathematics: Thomas ended up majoring in engineering and became a process engineer for a utility company; Joe majored in math and he’s a programmer.
The album title, Set Theory Infinity, was another allusion to their mathematical inclinations, although sales figures were too low to require much math…nowhere near infinite. They didn’t do much marketing. It was pretty well received and did a good amount of downloads on the Internet. The best song from the album was probably “6 Feet Under,” which garnered the most downloads.
They hadn’t planned on doing more albums, but when Thomas’s wife Kelly bought new recording equipment that connected to the computer and set up a studio in their home, they decided to do it right this time. Their first album had songs that were way too long. This time, they’re short and sweet.
Satellite Head is a raw rock and roll sound, with solos, catchy melodies, and some really good rock ballads. It’s a modern take on classic rock – guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, and Thomas’s 14-year-old son Jackson playing the trumpet. Based on the album title, they came up with the songs “Satellite Head I” and “Satellite Head II” – the former being David Bowie-like, and the latter being more punk like, power pop. “Brand New Day,” the leadoff track, has a great trumpet that kicks things off. A bluesy rock song with a great guitar is “Reason To Be.” The last song, “Missing You,” is a superb ballad. They’re immensely proud of all the songs – and of course, they’re all originals (remember their problem remembering lyrics). Their biggest influences are late-era Beatles, Kinks, David Bowie. Brother Joe is also a huge Tom Petty fan, and Thomas is a big Flaming Lips fan too.
The album is truly a family affair, including not only Jackson’s trumpet playing but also sister Sue Halpin, who did the band photography; daughter Sophia Tew, who did the artwork for the album – a painting based on the title, and Thomas’s youngest son Nick, who came up with the album title, as well as Thomas’s wife Kelly, the overall inspiration for doing the album, and Joe’s wife Lynn, who is handling the marketing.
Thomas lives in Phoenix and Joe lives in Charlotte NC. They share music files via Google Drive, and Lynn is working on establishing an Internet presence and seeking reviews from independent magazines and blogs. The goal of Victims of the New Math is simple – for people to hear it and to like what they hear.