Andy and Edwin Mathis White are the duo known as Tonstartssbandht. Behind the made up name (pronounced as tahn-starts-bandit) is a lifetime of synergistic sibling energy and a decade of making and releasing music together.
Tonstartssbandht began in August of 2007 in their hometown of Orlando, Florida. After spending their teenage years exploring the languid landscape of improvised ensemble noise rock, they focused their efforts on recording a few cover versions of songs from the Beach Boys’ Smiley Smile / Wild Honey. As choir members in their youth, the two felt no apprehension at the vocal task at hand and set their expectations to “neutral” when eventually writing their own music. Soon after, Andy and Edwin moved to their new respective homes in Montreal and New York City.
In these two cities the band continued under the restraint of solo writing, recording, and e-mailed collaboration. The confined living environments necessitated a reliance on the power of choral vocal loops, sampled rhythms, and digital music media. This method of songwriting and exchange was carried through on their three self-released 2009 albums, An When, Dick Nights, and Maihama. On these albums were also glimpses of their rock inspired past, with songs like “Midnite Cobras”, “Haughty Deb,” and “Welsh Souper” revealing an unexpected doom and blues riff affinity.
In the fall of 2009, the brothers began performing primarily in lofts and various DIY venues of Montreal. Playing so frequently, they would perform “electronic sets” and “rock sets” within the same week; sometimes sets would begin with a few chaotic vocal looping tracks before jackhammering into a raucous guitar and drum segment. Montreal label Psychic Handshake shared their rock side with the Midnite Cobras 7” in March 2010. A year later, Arbutus Records, which formed in late 2009 alongside the band’s live development, released Tonstartssbandht’s first full-length 12” Now I Am Become, a platter of music splattering between dooming rock and choral harmony.
In the years that followed, work and touring began to supersede that time once used for prolific recording. After bringing the split psyche sets on the road, the focus eventually shifted toward a streamlined live instrumentation involving their voices and analog ware. Their entire spring 2013 European tour was meticulously recorded each night by Andy. By then he had joined his brother at Le Wallet in Brooklyn and where that winter they mixed and spliced together an 80 minute selection from more than 25 hours of the European recordings. Entitled Overseas, and jointly released in June 2014 by Company Etc. & Arbutus Records, the double live album was the perfect document of where their creative development turned. It gave a broader audience the chance to at least hear how their performance were enrapturing listeners around the world, if not experience it from the venue floor.
As they’ve continued touring, the recording never stopped. Full set live cassettes followed with Nantes, Hanoi, and Christchurch. After moving back to Orlando in early 2016, their new home studio album Sorcerer was finally completed.