In less than five years 9Electric rapidly took over the modern rock radio throughout the states and are destined to become the biggest U.S. Rock band in the last twenty years. Their debut record “The Damaged Ones” is bound to please rock fans worldwide for years to come! Vandala would like to thank Ron Thunderwood for taking time out of his constant busy touring schedule by giving us a fun filled interview.
How would you define Rock ‘n’ Roll in your own words?
Ron: *Laughs* Can you hold on a second? I got to take care of something.
*Interview pauses for a few*
Ron: I’m in an RV right now that we’re traveling in and the refrigerator door just flew open. Rock ‘n’ Roll is when the fridge door inside your RV flies open and you catch all the shit as it’s flying out! *Laughs* It’s more of a state of mind. It’s about self-empowerment. It’s about not taking any shit from people and it’s about inspiration.
If a company decided to make a Thunderwood action figure, what would you want it to look like?
Ron: Where I grew up for some reason Karate was some big shit in my town, but I never took Karate and I always wanted throwing stars. My parents never got me any probably because I never took Karate and they knew I wouldn’t know how to chuck them at things. So I think he would have to come with some throwing stars *Laughs* Yes, let’s get some throwing stars. I for sure gotta catch up lost time with some throwing stars *Laughs*
Why should a Rock fan attend a 9Electric show?
Ron: It’s probably going to be one of the most intense live shows they’ve ever seen, as far as the engagement with the crowd. I have a serious obsession with trying to create a moment/surprise myself/challenge myself by creating moments with the crowd. I remember when I was a kid and I would go to these shows and some people were just faking it, maybe they were sick, I don’t know what their excuse was, but I felt kind of ripped off and I saw the crowd and I looked around and I go, “What the hell was all the hype about this band? and I really felt like if I was ever in the position on the other side of the barricade, I had a duty to the people who showed up to do something, like create a spectacle and create a moment to bring all those people together. I think there is something really important when people share a moment together. I think that’s why I like stand up comedians for instance. It’s one of the purest art forms on earth. All you have is one person and a microphone and they’re just bringing every person in the crowd together with them. I take those kinds of concepts by trying to put them inside the show.
Mainly to create on the big giant positive atmosphere?
Who exactly does the album title “The Damaged Ones” represent?
Ron: It represents everybody. It kinda encapsulates the human condition, basically. If all goes well you still just end up as some old decrepit busted up person. And that’s if something else doesn’t get you first, ya know? And with that said, it’s like anyone from all walks of life is gonna have/at some point, they’re going to cruise up on some damage and that’s also something that brings us all together. We can all share the fact that we’re all on some kind of struggle/journey and we’re going to cruise into some damage and that’s what makes us who we are. I think it’s humbling and it’s a fact that, maybeon the surface someone has a bunch of advantages over your walk of life, but they’re going through their own type of shit too. I feel like that kind of attitude can bring out a lot of mutual respect from people that you might not feel that you have much at all in common with. So, yeah, I kind of like that idea.
For you, what was the most challenging song to write and perform within “The Damaged Ones”?
Ron: It’s an obvious one with me as a vocalist. When it’s just sheer vocal range and you’re like, “Oh! I can’t do that” Actually, “Goodbye” is a good example of a song where we sing in these long high notes on the chorus. Our drummer Mike had suggested that melody to me. He brought the song and he was simply like, “Try this” and I was like, “No way am I going to be doing that” It was really cool to have someone else bring an idea outside of what my comfort level/tendencies were and actually make it work. It helped me grow! I’m really fortunate in this band that everyone is able to write and put in their own two cents. It’s allowed me to become a better singer and it’s freed me up to some spend so much time writing. I was in another band known as, “Opiate for the Masses”, for about ten years and I had a lot more of the writing and the recording responsibilities. It didn’t allow me to grow as a vocalist because I was just sticking inside a safe zone and I would kind of write by catering to my voice. Now I realize that I can do a lot more than I knew I could then. It’s been a blast working with these guys! They’re great songwriters!
Any behind the scene studio memories you’d like to share when first recording The Damaged Ones?
Ron: This album was recorded throughout our touring process and things like that. A lot of it was done in our bands rehearsing studio. Our drummer is an amazing sound engineer/producer. We recorded a bunch of stuff on the road too. Literally in our RV in the kitchen area. I guess that was a new experience for me, just being able to record anytime we need to get an idea down/finish up a track. We finished the recording with Kane Churko (Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, Ozzy Osbourne) and I learned so much from Kane. He’s one of those guys that is not just a writer and he’s not just an engineer, he’s both! You can get the best of both worlds when you work with someone like that. He’s like a Mutt Lang or something like that where you have an idea and he can incorporate it immediately like, “Go hop on the mic and do something like this”, so it was really cool for him to come in and have that spinal refinement process with everything. Sometimes just a tiny twist or just one repetition of a bar was just all the difference in the world. It was just so cool to be able to wrap everything up with Kane.
How satisfied are you with the final outcome of your debut record?
Ron: I’m so happy with it! I’ve never been involved with something that when I pop it back in; sometimes when you record you have to step back because you know where you say a word too many times and you say it back the next time and it has no meaning? That’s sorta how working on a record can become; you can’t see the forest from the trees for awhile. I stepped back and I popped this thing back in and I was like, “Man! It doesn’t even sound like this is our stuff” The magic is still there and it’s a weird thing when you pop an album on that you were part of producing/recording/writing, all that stuff; you still feel that the magic is there, like the mystery behind the song. It’s still a sonic journey for you as a listener. I never quite had that with any other record, as much as I’ve had with this one. There is always that nitpicking in the back of your mind like, “I could’ve turned the kick drum up a decibel” and all those goofy type of things, but none of that! When I stepped back with this record none of that happened. I just got caught up with the music and that’s how it should be, I think.
What’s the bands current relationship like with Another Century Records? Any advice you’d like to share on what to avoid when a label tries to sign a new up and coming band?
Ron: I would say this. My former band was signed with Century Media Records. So it’s basically at least the same owner, if not a lot of people at the same label still. And I had a really great experience the first time and I’m currently having a great time. I’m so happy with a team. It feels like I’m just working with my peers. It’s not an us and them vibe so much, it’s more of a “Let’s make everybody win” It’s so cool! I go to the movies with the president of the label, we hang out! We have a long-standing relationship. So that’s really nice. As far as telling any up and comers about dealing with labels; the more you can do for yourselves as a band/the core people within the band and build yourselves, the more you’re going to have bargaining power when you go to that negotiation level with the label. The ultimate thing is you should be helping each other. It should be a partnership. It should not be something where you’re just trying to sell a bunch of Cd’s for a company because you can sell a bunch of Cd’s for yourself. If that’s the case, it can build some kind of animosity. Be mindful of what value you can bring to a label and be mindful of what value they can bring to you. That’s going to be the symbiosis you’re going to be looking for.
Touring with Drowning Pool must be extremely fun! Any behind the scene pranks you’d like to share?
Ron: About 10 years I actually met our bass player KC DC when he was in the band Dry Kill Logic. I was on tour with Drowning Pool and so was his band. The pranks started wayyy long time ago. I think it was one night after some crazy radio show at the Cotillion Ballroom in Wichita, Kansas. It’s like this big dome. I think that my pants were pulled off at the end of the set and I just left them off. I had this army tunic on and it hung just low enough so you couldn’t see my junk. So I was running around the Cotillion with no pants on. Someone stole my pants, I guess. I remember running out to the Drowning Pool tour bus and terrorizing anybody on the bus, just streaking around and I hopped on the table and gave CJ (Drowning Pool) an impromptu lap dance. CJ was laughing his ass off! But CJ comes to our tour bus almost every night when touring and he’s the one I was pretty close too back in the day. He’s able to have the energy to hang out till the very end of the night. Someone from his crew always has to bring CJ back to his own tour bus. *Laughs*
If you were to make a super-group with members of Drowning Pool, Gemini Syndrome and Red Tide Rising; what would you call it and what type of band would it be?
Ron: That’s a tough one, but the guys in Gemini Syndrome have been riding along with us and we’ve been making up joke band names. Joke combinations like Tool and the Gang and Rick James Taylor, like a play on words from keeping our minds from getting too bored. I don’t know what I would call the Super-group, but I would love to do one!
What do you want to accomplish with 9-Electric within the next five years?
Ron: I want to become a household name, dude! I want to have that kind of ability to be able to sway the masses! Like our music talking to people. I want that kind of reach! I feel like when you’re an artist you want to be able to take things to a higher level all the time. As long as it’s a slow and steady build like it has been, I’m totally happy! Me as a performer; I want to be among the best in the world!