Interview with John Blackwing (Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Flute)
Interview conducted by Sargon the Terrible
Date online: March 22, 2005
Thunder Rider have to be one of the most cult bands in existence, after their debut album was released in 1987, the world heard nothing from this epic heavy metal band until the release of their follow-up last year – 17 years later. After 25 years of existence as a band, Thunder Rider are still unknowns, and still play the same old-fashioned metal they always have. In an effort of probe the mystery, I managed to wrangle some words from mainman John Blackwing (Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Flute) and learn more about this mysterious band. And so I present - Thunder Rider: The Interview! Over a year in the making!
Sargon: First the obvious question: why so long between albums?
John: That is a very good question, and I think the simplest answer is that life interrupts. Thunder Rider is an independent band, which means that unless the members of the band put up the money to record and so forth, nothing happens. There have been a few members that have come and gone over the course of 17 years and unfortunately not every one of them has had as much faith in the band as I have. Generally speaking though; trying to feed, cloth and shelter ourselves by working in the reality check world of 9 to 5 sort of puts a major kink in the dream armor of making it big in the metal music industry.
Sargon: I think a 17-year break between debut and follow-up has to be a record.
John: Sadly, you are very right and it's not a record that we are particularly proud of. We hope that despite the time lapse between CDs, our new CD Tales of Darkness & Light – Chapter II was worth waiting for, which seems to be the case according to our fans all over the world.
Sargon: Are there plans in the works for a "Part 3" sometime before 2020?
John: Ha! Ha! Ha! very funny, well maybe not so funny. If we don't sell enough CDs or get a record deal it might take another 17 years.
Sargon: How did all this get started? What brought Thunder Rider together originally?
John: I'm sure our story is no different than any of the thousands of other Metal bands that are out there dreaming of becoming rock stars. Thunder Rider more or less developed over the years; there was never any official meeting of metal minds to create a Heavy Metal Monster. It was more like a couple of friends jamming and writing songs while having a good time. It actually took us a while before we decided to, or had the means to record our music.
Sargon: What bands were the biggest influences on you then, as compared with the ones that influence you now?
John: I can only speak for myself regarding influences. They would be as follows; Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush, Genesis, Judas Priest, Pink Floyd, Rush, Dio etc.
Sargon: Are they different now than they were?
John: I'm discovering many underground bands recently but I'm still hooked on my old favorites. I still get chills when I hear Ronnie James Dio or Rob Halford's voice.
Sargon: How were the songs written?
John: Bruce and I have been writing together forever. We usually start the writing process with a sort of blueprint or plan which is hidden in the lyrics. We then match some recordings of guitar music that either Bruce or I have in reserve with the different parts of the song as we modify them to fit together.
Sargon: Did you have material from before, or did you write all-new songs?
John: When we started the project all those years ago, we wrote enough material to make three solid albums, so Chapter III is ready and waiting.
Sargon: Do you play any live dates, or is Thunder Rider a studio project?
John: We seem to work in a cycle; sometimes we're into playing a lot live and other times we prefer to concentrate on recording.
Sargon: Where did the name come from?
John: The name was initially the title of a song that I started to write. We had experimented with a couple of other names before settling with Thunder Rider. We started with The Hoods and then we called ourselves Illusion for a while but that was a very long time ago.
Sargon: Does it have any meaning besides sounding cool?
John: We chose Thunder Rider because we have always been into motorcycles (Harleys) and hot rod cars. We also found that we had a sense of the greater scheme of things, a sort of overview of the world that was reflected in our lyrics. We thought who could have a better view on the world than a Thunder Rider? Even if we didn't realize it at the time, our music was destined to be classed as Epic Metal, so I think the name suits the style of our music.
Sargon: I have to know: what's with the trefoil "666" with the ban slash through it?
John: It is the "No Evil" logo. How did that originate and what does it mean? It's just part of our concept. It's a symbol that represents the inevitable power that good has over evil. A symbol that is representative of a nondenominational choice to walk the path of goodness.
Sargon: "Part II" has a really lavish presentation, how did you make that happen on an independent release, and what made you want to?
John: The only way we were able to do such a lavish presentation is through networking and a bank loan. The reason is simple: we wanted to thank our fans; we wanted to give them their money's worth.
Sargon: How is the scene up there? Do you have a local following?
John: Apparently the metal scene is great up here especially in Montreal and throughout Quebec. It seems we love our Speed, Trash, Thrash, Doom and Black Metal. Unfortunately we don't fit into any of these categories. We have little pockets of fans here and there throughout North America, but nothing compares to our following in Europe.
Sargon: As sort-of time travelers from the 80's, what do you think of the metal scene then as opposed to now?
John: I love to discover new Metal, the thing that amazes me the most is the incredible amount of Metal categories or genres and how distinct they all are. The sound quality is another thing that I appreciate a great deal along with the sheer talent of today's players.
Sargon: Is there anything else you want to say?
John: I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to all of our fans. Thank you for taking the time to listen to our music and better still making us part of the sound track of your life. We are very much aware that without our fans we are nothing more than lyric and tune.
|Other information about Thunder Rider on this site|
|Review: Tales Of Darkness And Light - Chapter II|
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