The Wolfe behind the drums

Tesa Thompson plays Warped in Toronto. (Photo credit Jordy Clarke)

Tesa Thompson plays Warped in Toronto. (Photo credit Jordy Clarke)

From Debbie Peterson of The Bangles to Meg White of the White Stripes, there remains a niche club of women behind the drums who have paved a path for its future members. Tesa Thompson is a member of that club. And, it’s something she’s wanted for a long time.

She’s still in disbelief of her band’s inclusion in the final incarnation of the legendary Warped Tour in Toronto. Their rock ‘n’ roll dream became a reality when they were booked on the tour’s last Canadian date.

“Getting to fly to Toronto to go to one of the best music festivals was quite amazing,” Thompson recounts. “Getting to play it was actually insane.”

Her and bandmates, singer Siobhan Bayda and guitarist Gabrielle Giroux, told themselves seven years ago that playing Warped would be the high point of their journey. If they made it to this stage, nothing would stop them from being in this business.

It’s an iconic moment that is forever engraved on their music resume.

Tesa Thompson, 19, is one-third of the alternative rock band, The Wolfe. The Prince Albert, Sask. band broke into the spotlight as finalists on CBC Music’s Searchlight competition in 2017 and have since released and toured their second EP, Strange Words.

She’s wanted to be a drummer since she was 11-years-old and even proclaimed this to her father during a drive down a long road. Truth be told, he thought it was a phase. But, there is nothing else she’d rather be doing.

Thompson plays with The Wolfe (Photo credit Kyle Anderson).

Thompson plays with The Wolfe (Photo credit Kyle Anderson).

Throughout her seven years in the music scene, seeing other female drummers on stage is something Thompson takes much pride in seeing. But while her reception as a female drummer has been positive, comments such as “she plays well for a girl,” continues to brand female drummers.

“I think people are just shocked that a girl can do what a guy can do,” Thompson says. “A lot of people think that drumming is mostly for guys but I think that perception is changing.”

You just really got to put your heart into it. I love being a drummer so, it makes things easy. It could be a tough decision to have a career in this if you let things get to you way too easy. You got to be a little tough.
— Tesa Thompson on career choice.

There hasn’t been a struggle to be taken seriously, except for the rare occasion.

“There have been times when I’m setting up and people are like, ‘Do you want me to do this for you?’” Thompson says. “It’s very frustrating. It’s either because of our age or maybe because we are girls. I don’t really know.” In an industry that requires thick-skin (it’s something that she most definitely has), you have to stand your ground and not let comments get to you. “Surround yourself with people who will push you to the top even when you don’t want to keep going.”

Being part of the generation that is shaping the future climate of the industry, traditional gender barriers are being re-evaluated, dated and broken. We have platforms like Tom Tom Magazine who feature female percussionists from all over the world and work to eliminate the tokenism of female drummers in the industry.

Thompson is tired of people referring to gender before acknowledging skill. With the right skills, and the encouragement to develop and showcase those skills, “confidence skyrockets when (women) discover that they can do anything they want.” She says that being a drummer is not a tough career choice for a woman -- passion and dedication to your craft transcends gender barriers.

“Music is about emotion and standing up for what you believe in. You have the ability to use it however you would like,” Thompson says. “I just want people to have fun doing what they love without being worried about what people might think.”

Keep up with Tesa by following her on Instagram @tesathompson_ and @thewolfeband for news on their latest music.