Project Description

Interview With:

THUNDERBIRD

Interviewer: Brianna Denmeade

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After forming in 2003 and releasing their debut album What’s The Word in 2006, the band scattered around the world. A decade later, in 2016, the band released the album Heavyweight which saw them back stronger than ever. The influences of the band’s experiences now come through on this new record. Lead vocalist Marc LaFrance has toured with Bachman & Turner and sung on albums for Mötley Crüe, David Lee Roth, and The Cult. His bandmates Brice Tabish (guitar), Rob Becker (bass) and Kelly Stodola (drums) have both recorded and toured with a variety of hard rock and progressive rock bands.

With their long background and influence from classic hard-rock spanning over decades the band’s sound is reminiscent of 70s & 80s rock ‘n’ roll, updated with modern twists. The highly anticipated THUNDERBIRD third album is due for release April 25 and has all the classic rock components you love, plus different elements here and there like strings and jazz piano.

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Hi guys, firstly can you each talk a bit about your background in the music industry and how it has influenced what you each bring to THUNDERBIRD?

MARC (Vocals/Producer): I have been involved in the music industry for quite some time. Some of the many albums and countless sessions I worked on include Bon Jovi, Cher, Carly Simon, Scorpions, Black Veil Brides, Long John Baldry, Alice Cooper and Michael Bublé.  I was Music Supervisor for the animation project called Cackleberries and producer of several albums “In the Eye”, “The One Inside” and “Let Me” for the Polish rock band Chemia in which 3 songs went to the number 1 position on Polish radio. I’m currently touring the world with Randy Bachman promoting his new album “By George, By Bachman” which I co-produced, drummed and sang on.  With all of this, I have built an enormous wealth of knowledge. I think my many experiences in the biz having worked as a singer, drummer, producer or record company guy have really helped in the development of the Thunderbird evolution.

KELLY (Drums/Producer): Each member of TB has an extensive history in the music business. Although we all have continued to be students of our craft and are always staying on top of and contributing to what is current, our individual histories have made it easy to capture that NEW Classic Rock Sound. Marc has sung on some of the biggest rock albums of the late 80’s and 90’s, giving him the ability to find the right vocal parts and execute them with ease. Rob Becker has played with Canadian musical Icons in the Blues category thus his ability to capture that bluesy feel of Thunderbird. Brice Tabish, although the youngest member, is a walking encyclopedia of classic heavy rock knowledge enabling him to nail the staple signature riffs of this album. I also have extensive experience with producing arrangements from inception, which contributed to the foundation of these songs.

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You worked with Mike Fraser to mix the album, how did you enjoy working with him and did he have much input on how the band wanted the album to sound?

MARC: I have known Mike Fraser for many years, we have both been an active part of the Canadian music scene for a while now. I think the first time I worked with Mike was on the Blue Murder album or the Cult’s Sonic Temple. Mike not only mixed the Thunderbird record but also helped engineer some of the sessions. He took the band to another level for sure. As a producer, I have used Mike for mixing or as an engineer and frankly, he is simply one of the best in the biz.

KELLY: Working with Mike was an amazing experience and it was certainly on our bucket list to have him as part of this project. Although his input was minimal on the actual song arrangements and what parts were played, his role in the mixing of the album was dominant. We as a band really left him to his very own design to what the final mixes were. We have almost no influence or input in that matter. We wanted pure Mike Fraser on these mixes and that is truly what we got. Mike himself was a pleasure to work with and what more can be said about his history! It’s iconic!

BRICE (Guitar): If someone told me when I was 15 that I was going to get to work with Mike Fraser, I wouldn’t have believed a word of it. Watching Mike dial in drum sounds is like watching the Northern Lights, it is truly something to behold.

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How do you feel your sound has developed since your previous album release Heavyweight in 2016?

KELLY: The way our sound has developed from Heavyweight was very planned and calculated. Although we were happy with the outcome of Heavyweight we still felt that we fell short on a few things. We had pre-production meetings to address what we wanted to avoid and how to avoid them. We made a solid plan on what we wanted and how we would achieve it and how we wanted the end result to sound. We believe we have achieved this but also we feel that the songwriting has matured in the process too naturally and organically.

MARC: I think the sound of the project has moved to a world-class level. I am very proud of all the performances from all involved. I especially feel the songwriting to be very strong. I love the fact that each song is an individual story.

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What experiences or influences do you feel were important to you in creating this third album?

MARC: The experiences and the influences are too difficult to go into. Might have to write a book! I guess the truth is when you work on a new album you always try to reach further and further down into that new creative space and push yourself out of your comfort zone. When you get into it many times you don’t even realize what influences you – it all becomes a blur.

KELLY: We feel that the actual experience of making the album is just as important as having a finished product to present to the world. It was very important to us to really just have a great time doing this thing. It was extremely fun from the very start to the very end. We hit a stride and we stayed on it. The result was an experience that was stress-free and full of great times and memories to cherish. We were really all in our own Thunderbird universe together on this project.

BRICE: Since this album was my first with the band, the thing that surprised me going into this was how we all seemed to be able to speak the same language on many different levels. For instance, when we recorded guitars for the song “Stars”, Ken Burke was doing the engineering, and I said to Ken “I’m thinking the guitars should sound a bit like Vivian Campbell in 1983”, and he knew exactly what I meant by that. That common frame of reference amongst all of us made the whole process go very smoothly because, at the end of the day, we all wanted to make the same album.

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What is it like working together as a band?

MARC: I was very impressed with the rehearsal time that was put into the work tracks by Kelly on drums. He was a true professional. Rob, as usual, was stellar on bass. Amazing rhythm section! Brice was absolutely brilliant on guitar. There’s also a wonderful guitar solo by Rod ‘Doc’ Coogan on the track ‘Liar (Fool’s Gold)’. I can’t forget to mention a man I have worked with for many years, Mick Dalla-Vee, who engineered all my vocal performances.He did a great job of capturing the moment. It was a great pleasure collaborating with everyone on this project.

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What was it like collaborating with other talented artists for this new album?

KELLY: Every other musician and studio engineer that was a part of this project was the exact perfect piece of the puzzle for the final picture. Some of the outside people were planned but some of them were brought on by chance either from cancellations or schedule conflicts. Each time we connected with a new player or studio engineer it turned out to be even better than what we had initially in place. It truly was amazing. This album was recorded in at least six or more studios and each engineer or player went above and beyond to make this album what it is.

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Listen to the album and read the full review live here at AMNplify April 25.

Check out a sneak peek of the track listing now…

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