Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Old Thunder Interview

1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the musical project?

I came up with the idea of Old Thunder sometime back in 2012. I had taken a break from writing music to focus on finishing my college degree, and when I started writing new material again, I realized that the previous project name I had didn’t really fit the new sound. Previously, I had played more thrash/death metal-influenced material with some crust punk vibes, but the newer material was slower and more atmospheric. Old Thunder was a name that had immediately stuck out to me. (I’ll talk about that more later.) It has always been solely me and will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

2.Recently you have released an ep, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording?

Without narrowing the sound too much, I would describe it as doom/sludge metal that has a crust punk influence. When I started this project, I wanted to create music that was honest and reflected me for who I am. I find it kind of sad that so many metal bands function on hiding behind some preconceived notion of what’s “metal” and “not metal.” At the end of the day, I just want to write music that is genuine and real to me. There are definitely some non-metal influences on the EP, but at its core, it’s slow, heavy, reflective, and emotionally-charged metal.

3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects you explore with the newer music?

The lyrics for the EP were written over the course of about a year and a half. A lot happened in that time, for me personally and in my family. That fueled a lot of the lyrics – this sense of loss, betrayal, helplessness as a result of those events. Long story short, one of my close relatives had come to a turning point in his addiction to hard drugs, and it landed him in some serious legal trouble, some of which my family is still dealing with now. Between that and me dealing with some bouts of insomnia and a job layoff (fortunately, I’m employed again) among other things, things for me got pretty tense for a time. That’s reflected in the lyrics, even the ones based on literature. Finally, having grown up in Appalachia has had a huge effect on me. It’s a very disadvantaged part of the states that a lot of people shrug off, but it’s beautiful in its own way and there’s nowhere else I’d rather live.

4.According to the fb page you are influenced by the writings of William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, Ernest Hemmingway, and William S. Burroughs, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in these authors?

Absolutely. For me, as a huge fan of American literature, I consider all of those guys the quintessential authors of 20th century American literature. I discovered them around the time I was 17-18. Each of them were rebels with what they did in their writing. They took the ideas about what you could with words on paper, threw those notions out the window, and forged their own paths. Their writings are brilliant and are instantly recognizable. McCarthy and Faulkner especially appeal to me because so much of their work is based in either the South or in Appalachia, and they’re able to write about the people of this area in a very real and believable way. All of those writers explored every part of the human condition and wrote about it in a way that few have touched since then.

5.According to the Metal Archives page this musical project started out as 'Sulphur Grace', what was the decision behind changing the band name after a 2 year hiatus?

As I mentioned earlier, I took a break from writing music for about two years to focus on finishing my Bachelor’s degree, and I also started teaching English around that time. It was a very busy time, and I didn’t have much leisure time to write music. When I started writing music again, it was far different than anything I’d written. Sulphur Grace was faster and more aggressive, and I had basically sort of grown out of that sound. So I laid Sulphur Grace to rest, though a lot of the ideas and principles from that project stayed with Old Thunder. The name change reflected the change in sound, basically.

6.I know that the band name came out of Herman Mellville's novel 'Moby Dick', how does the name fit in with your musical style?

Interesting question. Old Thunder is a great name for a metal band, haha. Old Thunder was another name for Captain Ahab in Moby Dick. And really, when you think about Captain Ahab, he’s a peculiar individual. He’s driven by a single passion and has one goal for his whole existence: To destroy the white whale. He’s willing to sacrifice anything and everything – even his crew – to achieve his goals. He’s most definitely a madman. Captain Ahab has a sort of unhinged and maniacal passion to make him both admirable and dangerous. And I try to apply that idea to art, specifically music. It’s a huge driving force in my life, and the name Old Thunder to me represents relentless pursuit of passion and art.

7.With this project you record everything solo, do you feel this adds to the creativity of your musical sound?

In some ways, yes. Since I’m solo, I have the only say in how the music comes out. When I recorded the EP, the guy who did the engineering and mixing/mastering helped some with the sound of the guitars and drums, but as far as the songs themselves, that was all on my shoulders. I put a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to songwriting. I have to be honest with myself if I don’t think something is my best work, and that pushes me to want to continue to grow as a musician and a songwriter. I’m always listening to new music, both metal and non-metal, to continue to take in ideas and influence. So because of that, I think that I were working with another person or a full band, I might get stuck in a rut, so to say.

8.Originally you were a part of a few bands in Ohio but know reside in Kentucky, what was the decision behind the move?

I grew up in southern Ohio and moved to Kentucky for university work. After I got my Bachelor’s degree, I wanted to stay in Kentucky because I had fallen in love with the state and everything about it. It had begun to feel like home. On top of that, it was much easier to find jobs here in Kentucky than in Ohio. I’ve been living in Kentucky for about 5 years now and absolutely love it here. It’s a beautiful place.

9.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?

I’ve not really actively been looking for a label. I’d like to get some more new music under my belt before I start that search. I’ve not received any label interest per se, but I had someone contact me about featuring Old Thunder on a compilation. I’m also working with a PR firm for publicity over in Europe, and that is starting to pick up as well.

10.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of doom and sludge metal?

It’s a little too early to say, since the EP has only been out for a month. I’ve had a few reviews so far, all of which have been pretty positive. People via social media and Bandcamp seem to have responded positively. Of course, since it’s my first release, I’m not looking for universal acclaim. I know there’s still plenty of room to grow with this project, and I’m pushing to make new material even better than the EP.

11.When can we expect a full length album and also where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

I started writing new material literally a week after the EP came out, haha. The plan right now is to demo some new tracks in the winter and start recording a full-length next spring/summer. Tentatively, I’m hoping the full-length will be out by next fall at the latest. Musically, I think I’m starting to discover more of where I want to go. Expect more of the crust punk influence to come out more on the full-length. What I’ve written so far isn’t as melodic as the EP; it’s more on the sinister and ugly side of doom metal. But I’m still early in the writing process, and a lot of things could change.

12.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

It’s hard to pin down everything that has influenced Old Thunder. So much of it comes from living in Kentucky and from literature, but musically, some of the bands that have influenced me are Katatonia, Amebix, Massmord, Cult of Luna, Celtic Frost/Triptykon, Crowbar, and Khanate. As far as what I’m listening to today, I’ve been digging into another one-man Appalachian metal project named Twilight Fauna. It’s very raw and atmospheric black metal, but it’s unlike any other atmospheric black metal I’ve heard. It has its own sound to it. Very unique stuff. I’ve also been getting into a lot of classic funeral doom: Evoken, Mournful Congregation, Catacombs, etc.

13.What are some of your non musical interests?

Outside of my full-time job and music, I obviously spend a lot of time reading and love researching movements in 20th century American literature and American history in general. I’m revisiting Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls right now. I am also a coffee home-roaster. Unlike most Kentuckians, I love pro hockey, namely the Columbus Blue Jackets.

14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

I want to say thanks for the interview, firstly. Also thanks to everyone who has listened to the EP and enjoyed it or reviewed it. Be sure to check out the Old Thunder Facebook and Twitter pages. Be on the lookout for new demo tracks happening in the winter and a full-length sometime next year!

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