Based in Stoke-on-Trent, UK, Rise To Thunder deliver tripped out and heavy instrumental grooves with a real free flowing jam feel. They’ve been around since 2002 and although have rarely played outside their native Stoke, that is now set to change. With a place on the Future Noise PR roster, a new CD out late last year entitled ‘Master Of Infinite Wisdom’, which has already scored some excellent reviews from the likes of Rocksound and Stonerrock.com and a new found fan in the form of Julian Cope / Head Heritage, 2008 could be the year the Rise of the Thunder is heard throughout the underground. Read on to see what guitarist Al had to say when I fired over a few questions for him.
Hey Al, hope all’s well with you & Rise to Thunder; firstly can you give us a brief history of the band and your current members?
December 2002; Started as a ‘lets have a jam’ idea off Muffster (drummer), we got P. to play bass and we was off. A few ‘praco’s’ and we got the name, then gigs in Stoke, one of which was recorded for a live CDR which we shifted a few of. Then Dan joined on second guitar two years ago, a few more gigs, then the Future Noise lads stuck us on the roster, we did our first gig outside stoke in December last year which we really enjoyed and we now have a CD out on Future Noise Recordings which we are really happy about. So buy it. That’s the plug out of the way!!!
And how would you describe the tripped out doom of Rise To Thunder?
Well it’s never the same that’s for sure, there are so many loose trippy parts and the pedals make different sounds all the time, some bits are improvised, some sections are really fast and tight, more like a space ship coming straight for you!!! We all really enjoy playing together its relaxed and heavy!
What influences you and the rest of the guys when writing material, both from a musical and personal point of view?
Bits go together or find a natural progression, sometimes it’s the amps in control sending strange frequency desires in the brain, taking things out of our hands sometimes. The amps have had an influence for certain and maybe some other influences but we don’t have any set style or intention, we just let things flow as much as we can, sometimes though, with life and how it’s difficult being a writer, elements of frustration sometimes come into the music. I guess why we have been tagged ‘with attitude’. I mean I’m tall and people find me a bit on the strange side, especially as I’m a little intense at times maybe I should go and see somebody?!!!
Your music has a real groove & feel to it so would I be right in saying that the crux of your tracks are put together by simply jamming together as a band or is there a particular process you use?
That’s right for some stuff but I write most of the guitar sections and I go through it with the other guys, if I get something in my head then it usually has to be that. We have a good laugh about screw ups when we write because I’m usually pretty general, like when I hear stuff in my head and if the guys aren’t doing that I’ll be pulling stupid faces at them.
You originally started out as a 3 piece but in 2006 you added a second guitarist in the form of Dan, how do you think this addition to Rise Of Thunder helped with your sound & live performances?
After he’d left Last Drop I’d been in touch with Dan a lot and he was itching to do something. I’d been thinking about asking him for ages as he is awesome in all respects. I used to help Shallow out a lot when I was able to. It was really weird when he parted company with Last Drop. I’ve known Dan since school and he’s settled into the band as a brother and we are all proud that he’s here, he plays some crazy stuff, he gets me out of the gigzone at gigs and its always a pleasure having him around.
Your also a purely instrumental band, was there any particular reason why you never added a vocalist?
I used to sing, scream, whatever in the band I was in before Rise and that band was very much instrumental albeit not completely. I guess I just enjoy instrumental music more than stuff with vocals in it and I always used to write bleak stuff, but some of the Rise stuff is beautiful and reflects that there is something left in our lives. I guess people can understand that. For some of our parts we are in a deep meditation with our own and each others instruments. We were always happy having it that way. We don’t plan to get a vocalist or start singing anytime soon.
In late 2007 you released a 3 track CD via Future Noise Recordings, can you tell us how this came about and what has the feedback been like so far?
We gave Dave and Paul a CD at the Ramesses (HAILS! ) show and they got in touch and asked if they could put a CD out for us, so we put ‘Master Of Infinite Wisdom’ together for them, we are really happy with the response we have had for it so far. Future Noise Recordings have been fantastic and we really appreciate what they are doing for us.
You’re obviously a band that enjoys playing live but rarely venture out of your home town of Stoke, is there any reason for this and will you be looking to play more ‘out of town’ gigs in the future?
Gigs are really cool, we have played some cool gigs with some very cool bands in Stoke. We are getting some gigs out of Stoke now which I guess is down to Future Noise getting the CD out for us. It has been an enormous boost for us getting that disc out there, we really want to go out there and promote it.
And how would you describe the scene in Stoke?
There are some good bands. We have a lot of good friends who have been loyal, so thanks to them for that. And thanks to The Glebe for letting us play there. Most of the venues are putting on less experimental music so it’s been hard in the past to get a gig and harder to get paid!
If you were given the opportunity to play a few consecutive dates in the UK, who would be your ideal band to tour with and why?
Dunno? I hope 5ive come over again, we made friends with those guys when we played with em a couple of years ago in Stoke.
What are the plans for Rise To Thunder over the next 12 months?
We have some shows coming up, hopefully sell some more CD’s and keep going because its obvious to us people are really into what we do.
What is your current playlist and anything you could recommend to people reading this?
I had to put Deicide on today ‘Legion’ it’s brutal, I needed to go red. New OM is great and been listening to a lot of dub as usual, King Tubby is my favourite, so trippy, also had a load of AC/DC on recently and Motorhead, Black Flag, watching Amazon Women On The Moon.
And what are you listening to at this exact moment?
Button Moon theme.
What question would you have liked to have been asked?
Are you really named after Aleister Crowley? – Yes I am.
Thanks Al for doing this interview and please use this space for any final words, thoughts, plugs…
Thanks to Future Noise, The Sleeping Shaman, Bad Acid, Matamp and Head Heritage.
Take care people and thank you – Al RTT
Check out all the latest goings on with Rise To Thunder at:
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards