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4 band members playing music
4 band members playing music
Original photo by Alex Lyons
Culture > Entertainment

Punks on Parade – Meeting “The Looms”

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kutztown chapter.

On December 1st of 2023, I stumbled across what soon became one of my favorite bands. I was at The House of Jenk, a venue nestled in Akron, Pennsylvania. This band’s sound was completely unexpected and my first introduction to the world of folk punk. I had discovered The Looms, an Anarcho-folk-punk band from South Jersey. I was one within the quiet audience when four men donning banjos and guitars appeared and– “Wait a second. Is that a washboard?”

What followed was 20 minutes of the most catchy, lively, and musically impressive live music I’d seen in a while. The crowd began to shift from quiet to enthused after they began to play. Without a single electric instrument or drum kit in sight, The Looms’ upbeat sound and creative lyrics held the crowd’s attention from the first song to the last. From that night onward, I felt lucky to have come across such a unique group. And to hear that they were also from a similar area in South Jersey was like music to my ears! I began to follow their shows regularly and, upon meeting each member, found them to be extremely genuine and down-to-earth. At a certain point, I couldn’t help but ask if they’d like to be interviewed.

I eventually met with them to ask a few questions and learn more about the group, which consists of Jimmy C. Tolbert (vocals, banjo, guitar), Corey Siegel (vocals, bass), and twins Nick Bongiorno (guitar, mandolin) and Anthony Bongiorno (washboard).

The band’s beginnings date back to around 2011-2012, when Corey met Dave O’Neal. Corey, Dave and the twins played in a band called Know Your Roots. Around this time, Corey, Nick and Jimmy played in the band known as Riverline Renegades. Soon enough, all four had played together and were beginning to form their own band. Before taking on an acoustic shift, they were initially lined up to be a punk band, with Anthony on drums and other members on electric instruments. This time marked the beginning of what would soon become “The Looms.”

In 2017, Nick took interest in folk punk music, with inspiration from bands like AJJ, Mischief Brew, and Pat the Bunny. He began to introduce the genre to the other members. On Christmas, Jimmy was coincidentally gifted a banjo, and Anthony got a washboard. As if it was written in the stars, these unplanned gifts aligned perfectly, as Corey already owned an acoustic bass. One late night, the four decided to practice unplugged, which strengthened their liking for a more acoustic sound. With these changes afoot, The Looms was created. 

Jimmy noted that the aftermath of the 2016 election inspired the group to create more politically charged music from a punk perspective. Themes in their lyricism are notably fueled by these political tensions. Their first song, “Punks on Parade,” is an impactful anthem about changing society through revolution, in which they offer “an invitation to you all to break your chains.” The song was only halfway completed, with some lyrics and chords written out in an old notebook. As a group, The Looms brought “Punks on Parade” to completion. 

They described their creative process as a joint effort in which everyone has their own creative freedom. Corey and Jimmy may have an idea, a handful of lyrics, or an entire song. As a group, they discover how each member contributes. They prefer to keep songs open for embellishment. In “Oh Burlington!” off their album, Ashes of the Old, Nick added vocals. On other songs, Anthony contributes rhythmically or lyrically. Jimmy said he “may bring a song to the table, but by the time everyone else has met me there it’s a lot different. Everyone can add their own flares and harmonies.” Corey sometimes writes songs on guitar, teaches the others, then creates his own part on bass at the end of the process. 

Outside the band, The Looms are an interesting bunch, with hobbies ranging from video games to gardening. Nick plays Diablo 4 and Dungeons and Dragons. Jimmy has a plethora of hobbies, like reading The Lord of the Rings and philosophy, going on walks, writing, and whittling. Anthony also enjoys gaming, with special mentions to Tears of the Kingdom and Breath of the Wild. He also takes an interest in woodworking. Corey enjoys yoga and gardening, having already grown cucumbers, blackberries, and peppers (to name a few)! And because I couldn’t help myself, I had to find out if the twins share telepathy. Nick cued me in and said, ­“One thing I’ve always noticed at random moments is when I have a song stuck in my head, and Anthony will sing the same exact song at the same part I’m stuck at. I always think that’s kind of wild.” 

When asked if there are any groups The Looms would like to collaborate with, Jimmy “It’s tough to pick, because there are so many people I look up to in the scene. I’m thankful where we are as a band.” Corey agreed, explaining that there are a lot of people he’d like to jam and record with, like fellow folk punk band, Doom Scroll. The Looms continue to make waves in the scene – they recently played alongside Apes of the State, added gang vocals for Sister Wife Sex Strike, and continue to showcase their refined talents in each performance. The Looms, armed with harmonicas, punchy lyrics, and telepathic twins, are only moving up from here. They already have two singles, an EP and an album on Spotify and continue to perform live in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area. The four bring a refreshing attitude to the scene, with an approachable nature and genuine emphasis on enacting change through music.  

Alex Lyons

Kutztown '24

Alex Lyons is a contributing writer at her campus chapter. Outside HerCampus, Alex majors in Professional Writing with a double minor in Film Production and Women's Studies. She is a contributor to Essence Literary and Fine Arts Magazine. Alex is most passionate when writing about advocacy-related topics. In her free time, Alex’s hobbies include going to house shows, practicing drums and baking. Her favorite TV shows are Mr. Robot, Black Mirror, and Breaking Bad.