Oxford band Thumbtack Mechanics rocks live music scene

Group members are all Miami University students.

Miami University senior Miles Lynn said he heard the best way to get better at something is to find others who want to get better too, so he set out to start a band.

“I wanted to get better as a musician, and I’ve been told that you could do that by playing with people,” Lynn said. “I’ve never been in a band before, so I just figured I’d hang up flyers and see what happened.”

Lynn said he got his musical start as a child, learning to play the drums, guitar, piano, and trumpet with his father. After a while, however, music fell out of interest with Lynn, and he stopped playing.

Fast forward to Lynn’s sophomore year at Miami University, around the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he’s picked up his guitar and started playing again.

In his junior year and back on campus, Lynn started hanging up flyers with thumbtacks requesting local musicians interested in forming a band.

The result was overwhelming. Lynn found six experienced musicians and had to narrow down among half a dozen drummers.

“It turned out pretty well,” Lynn said. “I got pretty lucky with the people I found, I think that’s why it’s been so successful.”

In its current form, the band features an all-Miami University student lineup. Miles Lynn, Zach Hillman, and John Cronin on guitars, Sara Noall playing keyboards, Brock Shults on drums, and Jane Feck and Ethan Kraus on vocals.

The band currently plays cover songs of classic rock music such as “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, alternative rock songs like “Cigarette Daydreams” by Cage the Elephant, and pop songs including “You Belong with Me” by Taylor Swift.

“We play a lot of songs that people know, I would say,” Feck said. “And then you like sprinkle in songs that we enjoy.”

“I would say it’s classic rock, current rock, slash, alt-rock, and then hits,” Hillman said.

Talks of original music are being discussed for the future of the group.

Guitarist Ethan Kraus has his music titled “Ease it Down” with another band he’s in, The Cobblers.

With the lineup set, Thumbtack Mechanics started practicing, which wasn’t easy given the student’s other obligations.

“It’s a lot of priority, it’s a lot of work,” Feck said. “I would say every night we have a show, like that’s our whole thing for the evening, you’re not getting anything done when you’re going out.”

The hard work led to performances in front of friends, fraternity, and sorority events, and eventually landing a gig at Oxford’s Corner Bar in November 2022.

With three of the band members graduating this year, the band wanted one last accomplishment to cross off: to perform at the holy grail spot for college students, Brick Street Bar.

“That was really the goal, I think,” Cronin said. “I think we’re all just kind of working towards the ultimate goal of like, by the time this year is over, we played Brick.”

In February 2023, that goal became a reality when the Mechanics played in front of a packed audience.

“I would say like one of the coolest things ever is when everyone’s screaming lyrics back,” Feck said. “Like half the time you can’t even hear me because everyone’s screaming.”

After their first performance, the group came back an additional three times.

“I think the coolest part, is that we were able to retain a fan base,” Kraus said. “It’s really rewarding to have people that come back to every show and a lot of people we would see come back every time we play Brick.”

For the first-year student and drummer Brock Shults, the experience was different, but in a good way.

“I have a different experience and a different perspective from everyone else here because they’ve all gone to Brick, they’ve been to college here,” Shults said. “And so when we first played, like I had been there, like five times before that, so it was like Las Vegas for me, I first got to college and I see the DJs up there and I start thinking like, I want to do that.”

While three of the band members will be graduating this May, the goal for the future of the band is to live on.

“Us seniors are going to be passing it on, so there’s there are some young-ins (sic) here,” Lynn said. “They’re going to keep it going. I think they’ve already auditioned one or two people. They’re going to keep it going.”

Lynn said he’s confident in the direction of his band, even after he’ll have to give it up.

“It’ll definitely be a little different, you know, this is a really special group,” Lynn said. “But they’re talented enough where I think it’ll translate.”

About the Author