The Thrashers: Doing Justice To Their Title Of 'America's Youngest Rock Band'

artist: Thrashers date: 06/11/2010 category: interviews
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The Thrashers: Doing Justice To Their Title Of 'America's Youngest Rock Band'
Sometimes rock and roll legends aren't brought together via the Sunset Strip nightlife or an impersonal Craigslist want ad. In some cases, serendipity happens in the unlikeliest places and all before you hit a birthday in the double digits. While most tots are finding complacency with a Toy Story DVD or their trusty playground swing set, one group of young boys were blazing a very different trail at their local day care. They were planting the roots of metal. Since the day when four of the five members of Pacifica, California's The Thrashers first palled around at an unassuming day care center, a buzz has continued to grow about the youngsters. Now deemed as "America's youngest rock band" and having released their debut record Nine (a title that pays homage to their youthful ages), The Thrashers have been living a whirlwind adventure that many 25-year-old musicians would give an appendage to experience. One could only hope, of course, that the bright lights and adoring fans wouldn't bloat the egos of vocalist/bassist Nick Rigling, lead guitarist Geddy Franco, drummer (and twin brother to Nick) Chris Rigling, rhythm guitarist Charley Rutledge, and keyboardist Brandon Lurie. After their interview with Ultimate-Guitar, that brief worry was tossed aside. These musicians, as young as they are, are in awe of and very much enjoying their rock stardom. What began as mere friendship evolved into something much grander when the boys discovered they all had a mutual appreciation for rock music. It didn't hurt that there were burgeoning prodigies in the group. "First we were all friends, but then we met our lead guitarist," Nick explained. "We wanted to start a band because he's a rad lead guitarist." Much like other musicians throughout history, it took time for The Thrashers to find which instrument would be the perfect fit for their respective personalities. Even "rad" shredder Geddy began on a very different path. If it weren't for the cyberworld, it's very possible that Geddy might not have ended up with a Gibson in his hands. "I used to play drums when I was five or four," Geddy said. "I looked at the computer and I saw some guitar players. When I saw them playing I said, I've got to learn some of that stuff.' Now I'm a guitar player!"

"It was so cool to be onstage where The Doors and AC/DC and everyone else played."

Geddy represents the newest generation of guitarists that looks to YouTube (which he calls "very helpful") for lessons on any riff that is need of mastering. If he's unable to hunt down a proper guitar lesson via video, Geddy said that he will usually try to figure out by himself. The young guitarist's natural proficiency was also undoubtedly aided by the musical stylings of his own father, who played with the alt-country band The Mother Truckers. "I used to go to every single one of their concerts," Geddy said. "I enjoyed it." Geddy and his bandmates have been avid fans of an eclectic array of bands in the metal/rock world. While a good number of kids below the age of 10 do gravitate toward the latest Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber single, The Thrashers name everyone from Tool to Rage Against The Machine to The Beatles as primary influences. Frontman Nick takes a cue from some of those musical heroes to write the bulk of The Thrashers' material. Just like many a veteran composer, Nick knows what it's like to be overcome with sudden inspiration that cannot be suppressed or denied. The idea for the single "Soldier," one of the songs featured on the EP Nine, struck Nick in the middle of the night. Realizing that the musical epiphany might leave his memory by morning, the singer/songwriter called to his mother to help him write out the foundation of "Soldier." If you peruse the tracklist featured on Nine, there's one common standout trait among the four original song titles: Brevity. Long story short: Don't accuse The Thrashers of not being able to inject conceptual thinking into their songwriting process. "All the titles are one-word names," Geddy said about the songs that he called a mix of "slow" and "fast" metal. "They're called 'Soldier,' 'Follow,' 'Streets,' and 'Graves.' It just happened. We made songs with singular names. I think that it's something that is going to be really cool." Charley estimated that his band had written about "10 to 15 originals," but The Thrashers have cover songs in their arsenal as well. Their MySpace page displays the most notable offering, Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground." So was it the Wonder original or the Red Hot Chili Peppers' version that spurred that undertaking? "I heard Nick and Chris talk about Stevie Wonder," Geddy said. "My dad showed me the song, and I told them about Higher ground.' I thought that was pretty cool. I learned it on the computer and then we did it." Press releases announcing Nine's release were swirling around back in March, but The Thrashers had been establishing a respectable reputation through a series of live shows over the past few years. They regularly perform at the Pacifica Moose Lodge and a variety of private parties, but Nick hasn't forgotten what it was like to initially play in front of his peers. "I can remember the first time with just the four of us," said Nick, who felt slightly nervous right before taking the stage. "It was at Ortega high school." That initially stressful event, performed for a relatively young crowd, proved to be a success that sparked a series of bookings. Fast-forward to March 20, 2010, and you could make the argument that The Thrashers had officially made the "big time." It was on that fateful date that the quintet officially became the youngest band to play the world-famous Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip. If you're worried that an opportunity of that magnitude might be lost on nine-year-old kids, put that weary mind to rest. Charley still beams when recalling the momentous evening. "It was so cool to be onstage where The Doors and AC/DC and everyone else played," he recalled. "We had a lot of fun and we met a lot of people." By popular demand, The Thrashers returned to the Whisky A Go Go on April 30, but the band is not blind to the fact that there will always be a few skeptics in the crowd. Given the band's fresh faces, the novelty of their youth can often overshadow what they deliver musically. Well, at least in the first few moments. "We feel there is resistance for just a second, but then the music speaks for itself," Charley explained, noting that his band's music isn't just for his own classmates. "We rock out with kids and older people."

"We're going to play a lot more shows because we will start to get recognized more."

Charley said that The Thrashers had about 25 gigs under their belt thus far, and they continue to perfect their sound at rehearsals every Sunday and Wednesday. With a lifestyle that is a far cry from most of their grade-school buddies, there's always a risk of a backlash that's rooted in good, old-fashioned jealousy. But The Thrashers haven't alienated their school peers, and the musicians even went as far as to invite them to participate in the making of the video for "Follow." "Everybody is cool with it," Chris said. "They enjoy it and have fun with us!" For those peers that might have an itch to follow in The Thrashers' footsteps, Charley shared some logical words of advice. "They should start practicing and look for tips from other bands, too." With two Whisky A Go Go gigs, a debut record, and a bevy of music videos hitting YouTube, The Thrashers have already checked off many items found on Rock Musician X's bucket list. There's plenty more that the band wants to accomplish, however, and a musician like Charley is quite savvy to the business side of it all. "I think we're going to play a lot more shows because we will start to get recognized more," Charley said. "There will be more traveling and meeting more people." When many interviews come to their end, one general question is posed to a good deal of our Ultimate-Guitar subjects: Is there anything else that you'd like your fans to know about? After years of receiving the usual tour updates/new DVD responses, The Thrashers delivered an answer that you simply don't hear from a jaded hipster. "So guys, anything else you'd like your fans to know about?" The boys collectively cheered, "We love you!" Interview by Amy Kelly Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2010
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