When you click the info button on the Thunder Tribe Facebook page, the first thing you read is:
THE ART OF HEAVY METAL!
And that is truth.
Oh, yeah, I was excited to get to interview Thunder Tribe before their performance at Phoenix Hill Tavern in Louisville, KY Saturday night! The interview was great and the members of Thunder Tribe were all very friendly and responsive. Of course I expected this from them. I’ve talked with all of them at least once, some of them quite often. I planned to make this a video interview with an audio backup. What could go wrong?
Well, to start, I didn’t find my video camera until just before we left to head out to the Thunder Tribe show and the battery was absolutely dead, dead, dead. Luckily I found the AC cord. When I set up the video camera to record the interview, I realized it was just way too dark where the interview was held for the video to be anything more than just darkness and voices so I turned it off. No matter, a friend of mine would video the interview with his digital camera. Cool! So we have the interview and I use my handheld audio recorder to capture all the wit and laughs for posterity. The interview ends, I turn off my audio recorder and my friend tells me his camera died halfway through the interview, but no matter, I have the audio! But when I got home and commenced to download the audio, WTF? The file is gone! No big deal. I’ve got my memory. What can go wrong? Oh, yeah, MY memory.
Fortunately I have my interview questions, my friend, Kelly Davis’, partial videos and my assistant, Sacred Sarah’s, impeccable memory to help me reconstruct the interview. So, instead of the customary interview format that I usually use, I’ll relate what occurred during the interview in a hodgepodge sort of style that is generally the condition of my brain anyway.
I’m chatting with the members of Thunder Tribe and the video is about to start.
MICHAEL: We’re just waiting on Chester.
CHAD: I got another piece of pizza.
ME: I’m Bob and I’m here with Thunder Tribe at Phoenix Hill Tavern in Louisville, Kentucky just a couple hours before they go on stage and present to us the Art of Heavy Metal! First, I want to thank you on behalf of myself and Metal Master Kingdom for this opportunity to talk with you.
THUNDER TRIBE: Thank you as well (that sort of thing from each of the band members).
ME: If you would, please, introduce yourselves and what your role is in Thunder Tribe.
MICHAEL: Michael Duncan, singer.
RICK: Rick Sargent, guitar.
RONNIE: Ronnie Duncan, guitar.
CHAD: Chad Osborne, drums.
TOM: Tom Dawson, bass.
ME: When did Thunder Tribe first materialize and what was the concept behind it?
MICHAEL: Well, Tom called me in 2010 and we’ve known each other forever.
TOM: And I said, if there’s anybody who’s going to sing Metal with me it will be Michael Duncan. And he said, give me some ideas.
ME: How did you come up with the name, Thunder Tribe?
MICHAEL: Actually, Chad came up with that.
ME: Where did that come from Chad?
CHAD: It depends on who you ask, really.
(Lots of laughs here. I suspect the name has a suspicious origin)
CHAD: We won’t go into a long drawn out story, but……..
MICHAEL: Well, we do have a number one fan who helped us………..unknowingly……..
CHAD: And we came up with a name that sounded kind of cool for what we were doing with our kind of music and we took off with it.
(That explanation caused quite a bit of chuckling. I can think of a few interesting scenarios that would inspire the name, but I have a dirty mind and I might be completely off track.)
ME: So you started out playing cover songs, is that what you do?
MICHAEL: Yes, we still do, but we have our first album coming out on October 23rd.
ME: What’s the name of it?
MICHAEL: War Chant. It’s on Nightmare/Sony.
ME: Who’s the producer?
MICHAEL: Curran Murphy, formerly of Nevermore and Annihilator. At Smiley Sound Studios…Ohio.
ME: I’ve seen you in other bands. One of them was named Pownd and I’ve seen you in Thunder Tribe. Now suddenly it’s morphed into Thunder Tribe. What’s the story on that?
MICHAEL: Me and Ronnie just sat and talked, and of course Rick and we just decided it was time to rest Pownd after 15 years of working and playing. It was time for a change. Sometimes change is good. Let go of the old and bring in the new.
ME: I have a Pownd album titled Circle of Power. It’s really good
MICHAEL DUNCAN: Thank you.
ME: Where can people purchase this new album?
MICHAEL DUNCAN: Anywhere. When it comes out, online, in stores.
TOM: It’s a worldwide distribution. Sony distribution.
ME: Most musicians I know can’t pay their rent without some sort of day job. What does each of you do to put food on the table?
MICHAEL: Ronnie and me, curiously, do libraries. In the library business.
RONNIE: Librarians. (laughter……hmmm……..I wonder what they are talking about)
(Missing audio here and my fuzzy brain can’t remember all the details, but I recall Michael saying, “That’s our story and we’re sticking to it” amid lots of laughs.)
ME: Tom, I read that you are referred to as Dr. Rock. This reminds me of Brian May……..
TOM: (Laughs) Oh, no……not Brian May, I’m no…….
ME: Brian May has a PhD in Astrophysics; I heard somewhere that you have a PhD, what is your area of expertise?
TOM: (Laughing) I’m into Experimental Psychology……
ME: Heh, Experimental Psychology…tell me about that.
Here it gets fuzzy again because everyone was chuckling and I remember Michael saying, “We are lab rats and Tom has been experimenting on us……”
(Just for the record, Tom’s Facebook page shows that among other academic achievements he earned a MA in Experimental Psychology at Western Kentucky University and a PhD in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Louisville)
ME: The last time I saw you perform you pulled chicks on stage to dance during the last song of your set. Will you be pulling chicks on stage tonight?
The general consensus was that chicks were welcome to get on stage to dance and that no chicks are ever harmed in this activity and are not forced to get on stage. As I recall, that last time I saw these guys play the stage was overflowing with Metal chicks dancing and having one hell of a lot of Metal fun. Even my assistant, Sacred Sarah, was on stage.
ME: Can I get on stage? Can I get on stage and take photos? (I hope they were all laughing with me and not at me)
MICHAEL: Of course you can.
ME: Ronnie, this is for you. The last time I saw you play there were two chicks on both sides of you and they were grinding, grinding their crotches against you. They were rubbing their hands all over your body and you didn’t miss a note. What the hell was going on? Are you Superman? What is up? How do you maintain?
RONNIE: Laughed and said, “I was just drunk and my old lady was watching.”
ME: Alright, guys, have you anything to add to this before I say this is it?
MICHAEL: We appreciate the opportunity and we look forward to getting the new album out. We look forward to your review of it.
TOM: We’re really excited about this new album. We’ve got a few of the originals that we are going to play tonight. We’re already playing the new originals from the album and everybody in the band is really excited.
ME: So we can expect originals and covers. That’s awesome, man and I’m ready to Metal Up My Ass, guys! Oh, what is the lead song off the album?
MICHAEL: War Chant. And that is the name of the album. And we’re actually getting ready to shoot the video for that. And it will be a live shoot. I’m assuming that we might…..I don’t know what we are going to do, yet.
ME: Will it be at the farm?
MICHAEL: It might be, actually. Because of the theme of it we might end up doing it at the farm.
ME: Alright. Great!
MICHAEL: You were there for the video shoot of Pownd.
ME: That was exciting, but it was a long day and I had to leave.
MICHAEL: Yeah, it was a long day, that’s for sure. Thank you, Robert.
ME: You’re welcome Thank you, guys.
TOM: Thank you, we appreciate it.
ME: Have a good show.
THUNDER TRIBE: Have a good time.
Notes: Rick Sargent is generally quiet during interviews, but on stage he speaks loudly with his guitar. Ronnie Duncan had pneumonia, wasn’t feeling well at all and most likely should have been in bed, but he’s a true professional and played the gig, performing superbly, even managing to smile a few times during the grueling 3 sets totaling 34 songs.
Thunder Tribe never fails to entertain. They perform some of the cover songs better than some of the bands they cover can now perform those songs. Phoenix Hill Tavern has two main stages. Upstairs is the larger stage in the Roof Garden. This is where Thunder Tribe performed. During their show audience members of the two bands that were performing downstairs relocated to the Roof Garden to check out the fantastic music that poured down the stairs.
Ronnie Duncan and Rick Sargent are both excellent guitarists and traded off solos throughout the night. The extreme concentration on their faces while they played showed they truly feel the music in their souls. These guys are no amateurs. They don’t need to look at the tools of their trade when they play. Their guitars seem to be an inherent part of them both. Chad Osborne on drums never missed a beat. Besides making drumming look like child’s play while performing, he can sing, too, effortlessly. Tom Dawson played bass as if he was nurtured in the womb with it. Some bassists have a tendency to remain in the background, content to just keep the band grounded. Tom’s bass playing was a dominant force during the show while he shared the role of front man at times with Michael, singing the lead vocals on a few songs. He could successfully front a band if he so desired. He has that type of presence and personality. While he doesn’t sound exactly like Gene Simmons on vocals, he sang lead vocals on Calling Doctor Love convincingly.
Michael Duncan was in excellent vocal form as usual. The man has the voice of a Metal god. He is a natural for Heavy/Power Metal vocalizing. His stage persona is impressive and powerful. He steps to front center stage, opens his arms wide and yells, “Come on, you fuckers! Feed my ego!” And you’d better, or at least you should, because when the audience pushes to the edge of the stage and gazes up at him, his offstage soft-spoken pleasantness disappears and he becomes Metal personified and owns every song. And he did that for four hours, tirelessly.
This was Thunder Tribes set list:
Set 1 Wanted Man Youth Gone Wild Mob Rules Stone In Love/Don’t Look Back Jet City Woman Love Song Wasted Years Calling Dr. Love Fight the Good Fight Part of the Black (Thunder Tribe original) For Whom the Bell Tolls
Set 2 Kiss of Death Eyes of a Stranger Animal More Wicked Than Not (Thunder Tribe original) Something About You Shot in the Dark Photograph God of Thunder War Chant (Thunder Tribe Original) Note: War Chant would be a great theme song for http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/ Children of the Sea Wild Child/Everybody Wants Some
Set 3 Hellion/Electric Eye Flight of Icarus Heaven and Hell I Don’t Believe in Love Sanctuary/Fire Woman Mr. Brownstone Tears are Falling Cemetery Gates L.O.V.E. Machine Monkey Business Welcome to the Jungle Round and Round
Additional Information about Thunder Tribe Michael Duncan: Pownd, Shatter Messiah Ronnie Duncan: Pownd Rick Sargent: Pownd, Electric Love Buzzards Dr. Rock: Hotter Than Hell, XS, Kiss Army, Audiorotic, Beholder, Creeper, Riff Raff, Olivia Henken Chad Osborne: XS, Escape
Photo album from this show can be viewed via this link: