An Exclusive Interview With Thunderclap
My name is Alex Sekunna [AS]. A few days before Hurricane Dorian hit Florida, I made my way to Gainesville to visit with the band Thunderclap. Thunderclap recently released a new album called Inebriocean and also are about to go on tour with Meatwound. Meatwound and Thunderclap also released a split EP which you can find online as well. I highly recommend you blare Inebriocean while reading this article. It will give you even more insight on their new album! Thunderclap's Doomers are Todd and Ale on guitars and vocals and Sal on drums.
AS: So Todd, what came first? The lyrics or the vocals?
Todd: Ah...depends on the song. In the beginning, and lately, typically the music happens first. This last record we did, there were two songs and the lyrics weren't even done. We had to write lyrics to the tracks. But typically, I'll come up with a song, Ale will listen to it and get an idea or feel for it, then write to that.
At the beginning of the band, the lyrics and the songs existed independently of each other then we combined them.
Todd asks Ale "Has there been a moment where you've written a piece and I've been like 'Let me write a song to that?'"
Ale: I don't think so.
Todd: It's all different. There's no formula.
Ale: Why don't you tell him about the beginning of the band?
Todd: Yeah, before Ale was in the band before this band existed, I was writing the songs and I just couldn't write lyrics that I liked. I'd write stuff about wizards and shit, but I didn't wanna be in a band like that. I wanted something more serious more artistic in a way of less wizards and shit. I was not happy with the lyrics I was writing for myself.
Ale has been a friend of mine for many many years; almost twenty years. She had recently published a book of poetry and I stole it. I used one of her poems and it fit perfectly with one of my songs. But then I had to ask her for her permission. She thought it was cool, Ale came out to one of our practices then bloop the rest is history. Then she started exclusively writing lyrics to all our songs. I should have known prior but didn't realize she knew how to play guitar. Oh shit! Why don't you join the band? We need a guitar player and write all the lyrics and that's how it started
Todd: You can probably tell the story more eloquently than I can.
Ale: No you did great!
Todd: Interviews are weird.
AS: So Ale, what makes you want to write about the lyrics you write about, such as oceans and shipwrecks?
Ale: Well, we had a concept for the album. We were all in a really hard time in our lives. Todd dubbed it "Inebriocean". So everything on that album went into that. Before that, I was just writing sort of drinking poems, just because I thought there was a lack of available drinking poems.
I got published by a magazine in San Fransisco called "Drink Me" and the editor was always like, "Do you have another one? Do you have another one?"
So I kept writing them then and finally wrote it into a book. That's where Todd ended up getting my book and using my lyrics.
Todd: STOLE EM!
AS: Did we pretty much cover the feeling of the album?
Todd: We had a concept yeah. Its a concept album. For lack of a better term?
Todd: That's why it took us so long to finish it. Took us forever to finish this stupid record.
Sal: Two years?
Todd: Oh man, we started writing this the very second our twelve-inch came out. Yeah, that record came 2014, so took us five years. I think I had the concept for "Inebriocean" five years and slowly started working on it. We all had weird life things happen. Individually but two of us came out of the Inbriocean. Do you know what I mean? Like a document of life, almost like therapy. Ale and I came up for air and thrived cause we got it out.
AS: So this album, Todd you played guitar, bass and piano. Was that a lot of production for you?
Todd: No. Not at all. It was easy. If you've seen us live, you see we don't have a bass player. I run my rig through a real bass amp, I think its a conscious decision to the riffs I write. The riffs are kinda simple that I don't need another member. but on the album, I did play bass.
AS: But you did play bass live years ago?
Todd: Yeah, that was an experiment we did where I did the opposite of what I'm doing now. It was just an experiment that I'm glad we abandoned. Now I just run my guitar through a higher octave pedal into a bass amp. I have no plans to do that again. I play guitar exclusively in all the bands I'm in, but I still feel like a bass player. That's the way I write riffs.
Sal: It'll make you a great rhythm player, that's for sure.
AS: The dual-guitar setup, can you tell me about it? Are you guys playing back and forth? How does it affect your writing? Do you write riffs together?
Todd: No, she's been writing riffs. I'd say this last record I wrote all the music myself. There's a future where we have some unreleased music Ale wrote, but it's a collaborative effort. I got a riff, Ale's got a riff, Sal's got a riff, if it's good we will use it. I have no desire to write lyrics.
Ale: I'll do it!
Todd: Before we came here we have a little guitar room, We were working on a new riff Ale wrote. No rules.
AS:: Your turn Sal! How do you like playing drums in Thunderclap?
Sal; It's really fun!
Todd: You better answer that right!
Sal: [Laughs] I have been playing eighteen years and I quit playing two years ago. I sold a couple of drum sets that didn't even have a snare or cymbal. Then I started playing in a band a year and a half ago? There was another band Danny was playing in before with my brother called Twine. Through certain things, he was no longer in that band and so they asked me to play. I was like maybe I'll come out of retirement sort of speak. I started playing and it was like this crazy thing, where it was two songs and it was like forty-five minutes long. Each song was twenty minutes long. I was like this is a cool challenge. That denigrated and I was sitting there and my girlfriend was like "Dude, you need to play drums again!" Then that day or the next Todd sent me a message: Hey what are you doing wanna play drums? I thought about it and was like I'll be into that. I've known Todd for a while. I didn't know Ale.
Ale: I knew of you.
Sal: We knew of each other. Our bands have played shows together and shared band members. I listened to their record nonstop for a couple of weeks and dug it. I've seen them live so many times, but it never clicked because the drumming was a mess and was all over the place. When I heard the record and structure, I was like holy shit this is something I can be into and it checked off a lot of things on my list of things I want or like. I want something heavy, kinda loud and straight forward. Also hearing the record there's a range of songs. It just doesn't sound like the same thing over and over. It's unique. They weren't afraid to do something different. That to me is cool and a lot of bands don't like to do that. If they don't sound like this, they don't want to play it. I remember we practiced and the first song was "Ocean" and I was kinda hesitant because it has a weird start.
Todd: It didn't go so well
Sal: Yeah, it didn't go so well. I was like "fuck"! Then we played the next song and the next song and everything started to click.
AS: Did you practice at home?
Sal: No, the only time I played was with them. Then we had a couple of weeks then a show?
Sal: Then the show you set up was only the fourth show.
AS: That's crazy!
Sal: Yeah, everything has been going super well. I didn't think I'd be this excited to be in a band ever again
AS: You should be. If it's not fun, why do it?
Sal: Exactly and that's why I stopped playing. I didn't want to even do it.
Todd: and no, he's going on tour !!!
AS: You all are going on a month-long tour. You all must be excited about that. Are there any special places or bands you're excited about playing with?
Todd: We get to play with Meatwound every night, that's always a joy. I'm excited about every place we're playing. It's been almost ten years for me.
Sal: It's been a few years for me.
Ale: It's been all the years for me.
AS: Ale, it's your first tour?
Todd: Another thing I want to mention is, in the next week or so is that we are releasing a collaboration single we all wrote together and we all played together. Meatwound and Thunderclap. Then rewrote an old song of ours that we had Meatwound play. That should be out soon.
Ale: No, Thunderwound
AS: That sounds better than Meatclap.
[Everyone laughs] Yeah?!
Todd: I got a Meatclap from your Thunderwound!
That's what we call it in private.
Sal: So that's off the record!
Todd: No, nothings off the record. I see that red button. I can push it whenever I don't wanna say something.
AS: Your top touring albums. You guys got a playlist?
Sal: The worst music you can find
Todd: let's listen to all the albums that were kinda should have listened to but didn't
Sal: Cause we weren't into them
Todd: Let's listen to some bad stuff
Sal: There's going to be time for everything guilty please day then we will have like I can't believe this even exists.
Todd: Did you ever listen to that one Red Hot Chilli Peppers album?
Ale: What is it, Crash Test Dummies?
Todd: We are going to listen to something we don't like
Sal: my music is all over the place
Ale: I'll put on my 2 Live Crew, which is how we bonded with Meatwound when we played a Tampa Bay brewing company. They brewed a Meatwound/Thunderclap Nine Horn beer. Us and Meatwound bonded immediately after the show. We had a dance party where we played Miami Bass. We just knew we were gonna be best friends after that.
Todd: True story.
AS: Any final words?
Todd: Come see us on tour, listen to our new record, listen to Meatwound's new record and be on the lookout for the single.
AS: Thank you guys for taking the time to do this! Keep it 11!
Todd: Thank you and rock on.