City Journal: It’s Not Rocket Science

MIT techie Thom Moran and his band the Bon Savants make a dazzling DIY debut.

We all love a good geek-to-chic story—Revenge of the Nerds, those classic Ricki Lake episodes. Add to the list the Bon Savants, fronted by MIT rocket scientist Thom Moran. With this month’s release of their self-promoted, self-distributed debut, Post Rock Defends the Nation, the buzz over the band has gone national. And Moran’s taking time away from the lab (he coordinates test launches) to tour. “I think we can make some of the best music of our genre,” says Moran, who calls the style “sophisticated noise pop.” The emphasis is clearly on the pop. Notwithstanding a website containing the periodic table, the Savants focus more on life and love than, say, protons and propulsion. But a couple of deft physics references—rhyming “Schrödinger function” with “death and destruction”—shows the budding rock star hasn’t gotten too cool for school.