9ELECTRIC is a band that is really hard to pigeonhole or pin down. “We are about empowerment and living with a sense of intention,” frontman Thunderwood says of the band. “Whatever you do, do it with some fucking conviction. Make something happen in your life.” And the release of their debut album The Damaged Ones, out now on Another Century, serves as their mission statement.
Combining hard rocking guitars with electronic elements, it’s not hard to pick up on their influences while they manage to cultivate a sound all their own. I recently sat down with frontman Thunderwood to talk about the current tour they’re on with labelmates STITCHED UP HEART and GEMINI SYNDROME as well as future plans. Check it:
Amps: It is very hard to classify 9ELECTRIC because the record is quite genre-bending. If someone asked what your band was like, what would you tell them?
Thunderwood: I’d say it’s hard rock with an electronic edge because that leaves us not completely backed into a corner, you know? We listen to a lot of 80’s New Wave. There’s those influences, there’s metal influences clearly, because the guitars are big and chunky, it’s all over the place. We’re fans of songwriting, and that would be the one thing that’s the template for the sound of 9ELECTRIC.
Amps: How has the tour been going?
Thunderwood: We’ve been out for about a week now and it’s been going awesome! Both bands are our labelmates, we’re old friends because we’re all from L.A. We kind of all came up on the Sunset Strip together so it’s pretty cool that we’ve all grown to the next step where we’ve got albums out on a label essentially backed by SONY. So it’s great to get to a level with that kind of push and help. For us it’s our debut album so it’s a really exciting time, and all the bands are kicking ass.
Amps: Yeah, and all three of you have the albums fall one after the other. So it’s a great touring package.
Thunderwood: Yeah, and our last tour was with LACUNA COIL. Their new album (Delirium) dropped during that run and with them also being labelmates there was kind of a buzz going on, and now there are some great new releases that are out or coming out and it’s like the season started with LACUNA COIL.
Amps: My friend Bobby and I were on our way to that show when his car died SIX MILES from the venue in Lancaster, PA!! We were SO pissed! We laugh about it now, but man…I heard it was a packed house, too.
Thunderwood: Oh man, it’s like you were cursed that night. You missed a good show, man! It was a great time and I really love that venue Chameleon Club, it’s awesome.
Amps: Well, we’ll be seeing you there on July 29 and we can’t wait. Doing a full pre-flight check on the car so there will be nothing to stop us this time.
Thunderwood: When it rains it pours with cars, man.
Amps: The songwriting in the group…is it collaborative or do certain guys handle certain things?
Thunderwood: It’s really collaborative and we all get to put in our two cents or more. Our drummer and programmer Micah Electric is a really good lyricist so that takes a lot of the burden off of me and I feel like it’s allowed me to not worry so much about the musicality, just to be a singer for the first time.
I was in a band for a long time called OPIATE FOR THE MASSES and I played a lot of instruments on the album and then had to teach the guys if they weren’t there for the sessions. It took a lot of my time and I think my actual singing performance suffered because I was spread too thin. I just feel like I have so much more help now.
Micah is also a killer producer so he handled all the pre-production. Then we teamed up with Kane Churko, who’s an amazing guy and amazing producer. We booked about two weeks with him just to wrap the album and input his final touches on what we had done. And we ended up spending twice that and more because we had such a great time with him. We opened up a can of worms (laughs) and got into some other territory that we didn’t even expect. I learned a lot from him. He’s an incredible musician and he’s like a mad scientist. He writes great songs and he’s a killer engineer, too.
Amps: Both he and his dad Kevin (Churko) have an undeniable sound on record, especially on the drums. I really love it.
Thunderwood: Yeah, I love it, too. He really got a sound out of us that I didn’t expect.
Amps: What are you usually listening to at home or in the car?
Thunderwood: Right now in the band all of us listen to such a wide variety of stuff. Sometimes I’ll crank up THE WHO’S “Eminence Front”, and then we’ll have some random electronic music blaring; it really depends on our mood. Sometimes it’s THE BEE GEES, or maybe some jazz. We’ll sing along to silly stuff to get a laugh and break up the tensions and bad stuff that might happen, like flat tires with the RV or anything like that, you know?
Amps: What about away from music? What are your interests?
Thunderwood: I’m a physics hobbyist. Not meaning that I actually DO physics, but I’m fascinated with quantum physics, and a lot of the new gravitational quantum physic that they’re breaking down. I love to be kept up-to-date and current on what’s happening in the science world. I’m fascinated, I’m obsessed. But my other hobby that’s kind of turned into a second career is I direct music videos.
So I actually directed the first single/video for this STITCHED UP HEART record called “Finally Free.” I just finished shooting a video for Logan Mader’s new band ONCE HUMAN, too. I finished that the day before we left tour and I’m editing it in my bunk while we’re out.
Amps: What’s in store for the rest of 2016?
Thunderwood: It looks like whether we go to Europe or not is in the works. Tentatively we are looking at the fall, but if that doesn’t happen we plan to be on the road for the rest of 2016 here in the U.S. We’ll be runnin’ in circles and coming to a town near you! It seems like the powers that be wanna keep us out for as long as they can, until it makes sense to hunker down and do the next record. But I’m definitely excited for when that happens because I have a handful of things written that didn’t make the cut for this one because they weren’t developed enough. I’m looking forward to people hearing what we come up with next. We’re always trying to stay creative and challenged.
Amps: What would you like people to say when they finish listening to The Damaged Ones?
Thunderwood: A good response that we’ve been hearing is that there’s good songs on it. “Wow, you’ve got a lot of good songs on this thing.” A lot of bands have a signature sound that you instantly recognize, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there a lot of good songs there, maybe only a few. I feel like we’ve got a really strong group of songs on this album, I don’t know…
Amps: What do you want to say to all the 9ELECTRIC fans out there?
Thunderwood: Come out and see us at our shows, man. Stay up with us online, Mikey (Lopez, guitar) runs our Facebook with up-to-the-moment updates and interaction. He’s a funny dude and he’s always entertaining. Say hi to us all the time and let’s keep this alive! Come see us at our merch tables; virtually no one knows who the Hell we are (laughs)! We’re on Step 1, we’ve just opened the door and we haven’t walked in yet. This is our campaign across the U.S.
9ELECTRIC are young, hungry, and here to stay. Get to know them now because they’ll be a household name sooner rather than later. You can get tickets to the remaining shows HERE including this Friday’s at The Chameleon Club. If you’re there come say hi to us. And be sure to grab a copy of The Damaged Ones!