Chris Tomson ‘02 Virtual Visit

Sanya Desai '22

Lead drummer of rock band Vampire Weekend, Chris Tomson ’02, recently visited Peddie (virtually) to talk with students, faculty, and alumni about his experiences at Peddie and his professional career.


Tomson had played the trombone in the Peddie orchestra, but “whenever he wasn’t playing the trombone, he had a guitar in his hands,” said Director of Music Alan Michaels. “[It’s] funny that he ended up being a professional drummer.”


Michaels remembers a CD and a note that Tomson had left on his desk one day after graduating: “This is Chris Tomson ‘02 of Chameleon fame,” it began. Chameleon is a jazz song, and Michaels remembers how Tomson and his friends would “jam to [the song]” in the Arts Building, Swig. “It’s all I would hear every day,” he jokes.


To this day, Tomson says that hearing Chameleon blasting from a stereo in a dorm room window “changed [his] life.” “It was the first song that really grabbed me,” Tomson remembers. “It blew my 15-year-old mind.”


Over his time at Peddie, Tomson participated in a variety of musical opportunities. In particular, he enjoyed playing electric bass in the Pit Orchestra for Cabaret one year. “I remember it being really hard,” Tomson says, “but when it went well, it was really satisfying.”


Tomson also says that Vespers was one of his favorite experiences at Peddie. “There’s something so moving about the atmosphere of the chapel at night,” he explains.


“[I credit Tomson with teaching] me how to build our [instrumental music] program,” Michaels said. “I found out that the best thing you could do for talented students, and especially students in the Jazz and Rock music realm, is to just give them some [equipment] and some space.” 


Tomson concluded by thinking about how much Peddie has impacted him today: “Some of my closest friends are still Peddie students, and I ended up marrying someone from Peddie.”