Featured Artist

Cosmic Rock

 

Today’s Featured Artist is none other than the one man sludecore army, the long standing underground music scene veteran Rik Surly of Thunderchief. Scorching an unapologetic, brazen path out of Richmond Virginia across the USA, Thunderchief kicks out the jams with a solid refusal to follow the punk or metal scene herd mentality that ruins many wanna be’s of today’s so called rebellious heavy music groups. We had a one on one chat with the controversial rock soldier and found him to be a easy going, friendly down to earth guy ready to talk about his love of music, history and some news with TC. Many people know Rik from over the years, as a no nonsense individual whose main concern is simply the music. Thunderchief has some new music coming down the line and may appear to wreak havoc at a venue near you, with or without your permission.

 

1.Hey Rik how are you doing man and whats been going on?

Doing great man, better than ever. Since we last spoke, I’ve toured extensively in lots of bands…after The Deviltones, I had a rockabilly band with one of the Gwar guys, then toured heavily with The Flat Tires, moved onto a 2-piece garage rock outfit, but always had a solo project idea in the back pocket. I started Thunderchief in 2006, but it took a few years to get it together, never having been a solo artist. I’m a songwriting drummer that can’t play guitar, but now it’s working!

 

2.Growing up what inspired you to play drums and start a band?

When I was 3 or 4 years old, I would rock out with my Mickey Mouse guitar and big headphones to Elton John and Bob Seger, then I saw KISS when I was 5, so I knew I had a deeper love for music than my friends at that point. In 4th grade, I would save popsicle sticks and glue them together so I could air drum along with Duran Duran and Iron Maiden videos. I tried other instruments, until I was 13, then my parents bought me a drum set. I did just like Damone said in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”-- I put on side 1 of Led Zeppelin 4, and I played until I got it right. My mom would tell me it sounded like I was in a “big band” when I played Led Zep’s “Rock n Roll”.  That encouragement kept me moving on to Motley Crue, into Cro-Mags, into death metal and so on. I wanted to play it all and eventually did.

 

 

3.Yeah okay, right on. What were some of the concerts back in the day that really inspired you?

Other than KISS in ‘79, I saw The Stones on the Tattoo You tour at L.A. Coliseum with George Thorogood, Bad to the Bone just came out, J. Geils Band, fresh out with Freezeframe, and Prince opened the show--they threw hot dogs and shoes at him until he gave up. I saw acts like Merle Haggard, The Tubes, Alabama, Beach Boys, all in their prime, which was an exciting time for music, and that in itself inspired me. I tried to get someone to take me Van Halen 1984 tour, but lost out on that, I was bummed... But when I saw Karl Agell in COC open for Testament and Megadeth, then later, COC-Testament-Iron Maiden, I knew right then that it was too easy to stay focused on your goals, and actually achieve them. (Thanks Karl).

Later on it was seeing the Beastie Boys and Agnostic Front that changed me. My first roadie venture was with Nuclear Assault, which was rad and confusing, then I headed out with Bloody Mary. Those smaller gigs really made me focus on my desire to be like everyone else I was hanging around in “underground” music. That untamed, intimate underground feel was amazing. I get the same feeling out of it today as I did in the 80s/90s…damn are we that old, Gid?

 

4.Yeah for real man. Oh yeah Karl is the man. I love AF and the Beastie Boys. Classic albums in your early days?

Oh man...KISS “Rock n Roll Over”, ACDC “Dirty Deeds”, Stones “Sticky Fingers”, Crue “Too Fast for Love”, Agnostic Front “Victim in Pain”, of course, Slayer “Reign in Blood” was the decider! I’ve always listened to a variety of music, like Jazz, pop, country, and I watch Lawrence Welk and Hee Haw re-runs religiously. When I saw Blue Cheer on TV doing “Summertime Blues”, my outlook on music changed. Then I saw Deep Purple do “Highway Star”, and I was hooked on the heaviest music that I could find, Not necessarily fast and heavy but just heavy rock.

 

 

 

5.Sure yeah. Your solo band is super heavy bro. Tell us all about your one man project?

In 2006, my band had all but split, we didn’t tour the “big” record that was released on 3 labels simultaneously in 3 countries, because certain members had a fear of success, no matter how small. I was fed up and had an idea built around the Bobby Steele philosophy of “if you can’t have a band, bring it on tape”. I realized that in all of those years playing in bands, the only thing holding me back were the other people in the band. The joke was on me. I’ve been touring since 1991, good, bad or otherwise and I’ve never done anything else-it has always been important to me to keep my eye on the prize. I had goals that others didn’t have, and I’ve always been able to achieve them…I knew my next project had to be solo.

So one day, I drew a picture of some amps in a ridiculous config, then got a bass. I started writing some simple riffs, got an Ipod, and laid down some drum tracks. It took 6 long years to get going; I was a touring drummer for other bands at the time, while tromping thru a rough divorce. Those bands and the divorce created anger, depression, misery, despair….and that turmoil actually formed THUNDERCHIEF into what it is…it was a manifest of true emotions, not some bullshit cock-rock that is contrived to be something particular, with the same old tired “Opening Riff-Bridge-Verse-Chorus-Solo-Lather-Rinse-Repeat” formula. Not traditional doom/sludge/noise, but all of that spoke to me for so many years after seeing The Melvins in ’94, so It think a lot of those styles comes out in Thunderchief. If you like bands with too many amps and a wall of tolex, Thunderchief might be a good choice for you.

 

 

6.You have any shows coming up?

I’m heading back in the studio for while, I literally just walked in the door from tour with CURSUS (www.facebook.com/cursusdoom), and I’m always booking. I have some fall dates pending but nothing solid as of yet. I’m planning 2 US tours in 2019, and a possible European tour if everything falls in line...being a solo artist, I can’t blame anyone for not getting out there and forging the rock!

 

7.You recently did some recording with Erik Larson. Great musician and guy. How did that come about and tell us about it?

When I moved back to Richmond last year, I got an email out of nowhere saying he heard I was back in town, and we planned on doing something, but neither of us were sure of what that might look like. This year we started jamming some ideas I had. He added the perfect drum hook for “Stone House”, he asked what I was looking for in this breakdown, so I says, “Just do the Donald Tardy”, and he nailed it. It’s a heavy hitter, and so is he, I couldn’t have found a better fit for the track.  I think him and myself, and a couple of others I know at this age, are

 multitasking with different projects, and still loving all that comes with being a part of the scene.  That’s hard to find nowadays with all the craziness that band life brings. No bullshit, no boundaries man.

 

8.How do you feel about the underground music scene today?

Well, it’s very different. I’m a die-hard rocker, I put up with the trends and movements necessary to keep going, but I like the old days of Kinkos, typewriters and calling cards the best when you could book shows, and not just being given a date, then being told you have to find bands to play with. I’m not sure why venues and promoters expect the band asking for a gig to find locals to complete the show, in a town you don’t even live in. In my opinion, it’s not a very good way to network when you “PM” a band to say, “hey folks, you don’t know me, but will you put a show together for my band so we can play your city?” It’s counter-productive in many ways, and not only for the bands.

As far as music---holy shit there is some god stuff coming out of all the loud genres! The bands I saw on tour blew me away, so many great new acts worth following.

 

9.Sure yeah for real. What advice would you give a new artist just starting out?

As a product of the 20th Century, I hope that all the kids that played Rock Star and Guitar Hero are actually going to carry the torch, and I mean the DIY torch. In this era of paying record labels to put out your record, Spotify and “find your own local support”, the new artist needs to stick to the old philosophy—just do it the way it’s supposed to be done. It’s not easy so don’t try to make it harder than it already is in your new millennium!

 

10.Totally man. Any last words or news for your fans?

Keep in touch at www.thethunderchief.com for all news related to the heaviest 1-man band on Earth. Go here for the latest downloads and free music -www.thethunderchief.bandcamp.com, and support!!