The Lobbyists are a band and theater collective consisting of core members Tommy Crawford, Eloïse Eonnet, Alex Grubbs, Will Turner, Tony Aidan Vo, and Douglas Waterbury-Tieman. Here, Tommy, Will and Tony describe their unique origins and work on Twelfth Night.
How did the band form?
Tommy: The band came together in early 2012. Five of us—Tommy, Alex, Will, Tony, and Eloïse—were all performing in a show called These Seven Sicknesses at The Flea Theater in lower Manhattan. During early previews, our director, Ed Iskandar, asked Tommy and Will (who were also the show’s co-assistant music directors) if they could noodle around in the lobby and play some songs as audience entered. Will and Tommy’s musical friendship goes back all the way to college, when they worked on As You Like It, directed by none other than Sara Holdren. After playing the first night in the lobby, Alex sidled up to the pair and asked if they needed a mandolin player. The next day, Tony and Eloise approached, offering to shake their tambourines and play percussion. Tommy’s ears sparked up: an opportunity for five-part harmony arrangements! Soon, the group was playing a 30-minute set every night before the show. The members started furiously penning original songs to add to the repertoire of covers. We fondly talk about the lobby as our “Hamburg”—a venue to nightly hone our skills and develop a cohesive vibe.
A year later, Douglas joined after Tommy heard him mellifluously playing his fiddle underground at Penn Station. The two struck up a conversation, and Tommy learned Douglas was fresh from Nashville to New York, and alongside his virtuosity on the strings, shared a love of theater and acting. Douglas was presented with his suspenders and became a bona fide Lobbyist, and the band was complete.
Where did the name “The Lobbyists” come from?
Will: We literally came together in the lobby of The Flea Theater. A few pun-filled names floated around, but The Lobbyists felt the most fun out of context.
What was the process of writing/composing music for Twelfth Night at Two River?
Tony: The Lobbyists’ songwriting process is very collaborative and can start in many different ways. Since every Lobbyist member is a songwriter, there are times when an individual will share a fully written song and the group will add their own ideas, harmonies, and orchestrations. For Twelfth Night, we focused on the theme of longing and images of rain and the sea as a jumping-off point. From there, we created several musical motifs within numbers and songs and worked to thread them throughout the play.
Luckily, Shakespeare already provided us with written lyrics in several scenes. With that, several members took a pass at different chord progressions and adding these lyrics to it. We would share our song proposal and from there, The Lobbyists and Sara would discuss and settle on the one song that felt right for that moment in the play and how it could come back in different iterations later on. There are also a few fully written songs that were based on one line of lyric in the script.
Learn more at The Lobbyists at www.wearethelobbyists.com.