INTERVIEW: Thunderchief

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been? 

Dylan Jarman: We’ve been doing great! Well, pretty good. Meh… I guess great.

Brett Sanders: I’d say Thunderchief is doing alright. We’re pleased with our sound, and our circumstances. We’ve got a lot of the crucial elements of a real band.

David Lee: I am doing very well thank you.

Can you tell us more about the story behind your track ¨Skinwalker¨

DJ: Brett and I were jamming one night with his cousin Tucker, and he wouldn’t stop talking about Skinwalkers. He was telling us about how they shape-shift and eat people and whatever. So we’re jamming, listening to music, etc, and Brett plays that bass line. I figured I’d just follow on guitar and Tucker came in playing a shuffle and that was it. It was one of those freak accidents of music when a song just comes out. We recorded it on a phone and called it Skinwalker because of Tucker, but it stuck, and I wrote all the lyrics around that theme. The next gig, we played it live with David and he got the idea immediately. We’ve played it every show since.

DL: Skinwalker is about a native American folklore describing a man who can shape shift into an animal by tapping into the spirit world.  A very interesting concept that makes for a killer song.

BS: “Skinwalker” was actually a Black Sabbath inspired riff that changed very little from the very first time it was jammed. My cousin, Tucker, was visiting from out of town and was jamming on drums with Dylan and I. We played the song live shortly after that and I don’t think David had even heard it yet, so first live play-through was David’s first time playing it. He’s just that good, though.

The single comes off your new material E.P.  what´s the story behind the title? I am guessing those two letters actually stands for something else than Extended Play. 

DJ: Unfortunately, we called our EP “EP” because we’re just that boring. I guess it was also a salute to Zeppelin in a way, because the title isn’t as important to us as the music itself. That, and all of the names we come up for our own work are cheesy. We had to have Brett’s brother come up with “Thunderchief,” because we were settled on crap like “Myrmidon” and “Atronach.” Can you imagine that? What a disaster.

BS: Sorry, we’re not very clever, so E.P. means exactly what it was meant to mean.

DL: There is no story behind the title.  It is just meant to be a sampler of our music or demo if you will.

How was the recording and writing process? 

DJ: Besides Skinwalker, the songs on the EP started as little riffs I came up with at work or at school. I’d get them to a rough-draft stage and then show them to Brett and David. At that point, if they liked them (and there were plenty of things they didn’t), we just jammed them out. “Let’s try this, let’s try that.” And eventually the music was something we could play in front of a crowd. But even then, the songs have changed several times since the first times we played them. We recorded with a friend of ours, Jesse Wright. He lives here in Auburn, and he’s a mix-master. We recorded everything in his living room.

DL: The recording process was very fun and exciting for all of us.  For the four songs, Dylan wrote the basis behind the music.  When we jammed them out for the first time is when they really came alive.  After playing many shows and molding the songs into what we thought was a great sound we decided to hit the studio.  We recorded at a friend’s home studio and it went really smooth for the drum parts.  Two or three takes at max.  Solid recording session all around.

BS: The recording process was pretty basic. Dylan was involved from start to finish, where David and I just showed up to record our parts. The recording and mixing was done by our friend Jesse Wright. He does good work. Writing was mostly us jamming on riffs until something worked. As we played the songs live more often, the songs changed a little here and there, some songs were eradicated all together, may they rest in peace.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics? 

DJ: Well, like I said, Skinwalker was just a fluke. Skinwalkers sounded cool and it was a cool riff. “Sudden Death in the Flesh” is about people who spend so much time worrying about what they’re “supposed to do,” that they never DO anything. Fate, destiny, if you spend too much time worrying about it, you’ll never go anywhere. We called that paradox Sudden Death in the Flesh. “Bad Man” is a basic blues song inspired by our favorite blues artists. If we could dedicate a song to Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker, it would be Bad Man. Finally, “Soldier Song” is a song about a veteran suffering from PTSD. It’s a really serious issue that isn’t talked about enough. More needs to be done to help the men and women who fight on our behalf.

BS: Uhh, you’ll have to depend on Dylan’s answer for that one. As close of friends as we are, I still don’t know what goes on inside his head.

DL: I got my inspiration by just jamming with Dylan and Brett and it just came naturally.

Any plans to hit the road? 

DJ: Yeah! We’re planning a tour of a couple Western States this summer: Utah, Nevada, and California. We’re hoping to be able to spread the word and bring people out, but we haven’t confirmed any dates yet.

DL: Not set in stone but we are possibly planning a small tour around California and Oregon with our friends Bandmaster Ruckus from Red Bluff.

BS: Plans to hit the road…yeah we’ve got plans. Fortunately, we’ve interacted with a lot of musicians and pair pretty well with a lot of them, so we’ve got some people to travel with.

What else is happening next in Thunderchief´s world? 

DJ: Well we’ve got a lot of songs ready now, enough for a full album. We’re saving up to be able to pay for it. With any luck, when we tour in the summer, we’ll have copies of a full length to sell!

DL: We are working on recording our first full length album and already have plans for a second.  I’d say Thunderchief’s future is looking very bright.

BS: We’re excited to start a new album in the near future. We’ve got some really rad songs we’re working on right now, but as to what songs will be on the album has yet to be solidified. It’ll be our first full-length album and we want to do it right.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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