Tommy Lin is the bar manager of Cooper’s Seafood House, Scranton, and a drummer and songwriter with the band Existentialism. A native of Taiwan, Lin has lived in Northeast Pennsylvania since 1982 and graduated from Scranton High School and University of Scranton. He lives in Dunmore.
Meet Tommy Lin…
You’ve been at Cooper’s for 18 years, and you’ve been the bar manager for nine years. What do you enjoy about it?
The people. These people come in, and I’m an entertainer. And there’s nothing like seeing the regulars. They’ll come in, and I’ll be like, “How was Miami?” or “How was your son’s first baseball game?” They literally become extended members of my family. Customers text me and ask me if I’m working. And it’s also the people that work here. The reason we’re good and we’re an established place is because of the people within. And it’s family-owned, and the owners obviously play an integral part. They treat me very well, and they give us the tools to succeed.
Tell us a little about your music.
Music is a love and a hobby. I find it to be an outlet and a passion and nothing more. I’ve probably recorded 10 albums, but I stopped playing out in 2006. I played in the Scranton hard-core scene in the ’90s and was with Burial Ground for nine years, but I got desensitized by music. I became a recluse. There’s people that like music, and then there’s people that like music, and I find that most people don’t like music the way that I like music. I have more than 1,600 CDs. I’ve attended more than 600 concerts. And I listen to all underground metal. Nothing commercial. I’m a thrash drummer. I grew up in the ’80s with a lot of thrash bands, and I enjoyed thrash, and I later branched out into death metal and black metal. Most of the music I listen to is from Scandinavia. And I still play every day. But I just play music because I love it. It’s an extension of myself.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Music. I’m constantly going to concerts. And I enjoy shopping for music. I like the digital age, but I also like holding a CD. I’m also an avid Transformer collector. And I spend about 40 to 60 days snowboarding every year. I also enjoy waterfall hunting. I search for waterfalls that are huge and grand and out of the way. I also enjoy doing things with my best friend, Susie. She attends concerts with me and does everything with me, and she means the world to me. I’m never idle. I’m up and I’m out.
Who are some of your favorite bands?
Overkill. Iron Maiden. Right now I’m listening to Samael, Borknagar, Vintersorg and Amorphis.
All-time favorite movie?
Favorite TV show?
“Dateline NBC.” And, growing up, “Wings” and “Mister Ed.”
Philly. For sports events and concerts, I go to Philly.
Do you follow sports?
Phillies, Eagles and Flyers. But sports will always be secondary. Music will always be first. If Iron Maiden was playing at the Wells Fargo Center and the Phillies were going to game seven of the World Series, I’m going to go see Iron Maiden. But I’ve been to 122 games at Citizens Bank Park. Sports, to me, is entertainment.
Favorite place to vacation?
Okemo, Vermont, for snowboarding.
Taiwan. A dish called Ba-wan.
Favorite quote or catchphrase?
“Let’s just say God works too slow.” It’s from the “X-Men.”
Is there anything about you that might really surprise people?
No, because I always throw it out there. Working here, I always feel that you should be honest and extend yourself.
Have you had a moment in your life, or an event in your life, that has helped shape you or define you as a person?
I lost my sister to cancer in 2013. We grew up together. We were immigrants, and my parents were busy working two jobs. We actually didn’t come here for a “better opportunity.” We actually had a good opportunity (in Taiwan). I always find that people that leave their birthplace do it for a better opportunity or a better family environment. Ours was the latter. It was better for us to leave. And so my sister and I grew up together. My parents started working overseas again, and she pretty much raised me. The last four years have been trying … and the grieving process for everyone is different. Mine has been spread out. And I haven’t felt like myself for four years. I was just doing things just to pass the days since she died. Even though I was snowboarding, waterfall hunting and going to concerts, it was just something so that I didn’t have to think about her passing. And now I’m coming out of that, and I enjoy waterfall hunting and going to concerts again. I enjoy playing music again. I am slowly recovering who I was, or who I think she’d be proud of.
UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Emma Black