Thunder Rock City – the history of the Thunderroads

The Thunderroads just tore it up at Burger Boogaloo. I stumbled across this quick history of the band and its messianic complex here on the band’s blog. For those who don’t know, Rockin’ Jesus is the name of the Thunderroads bassist. He’s not talking about a religious conversion.Enjoy!

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We really became the Thunderroads when Jesus came along…

In November 2001, my band Accel 4 decided to call it quits. Our drummer Devil Moon quit and we decided it was time to do something new.

Right after we got back from out last show in Kobe, I started a Ramones cover band called the Rockaways. I wanted to start something new, so I got in touch with a friend. This was the very beginning of the Thunderroads. Naming the band was a matter of “Fuck it, whatever.” I’d always liked weird band names and I just looked at the other guy’s email address, “crazythunderroad” and said, “Okay, we’re Akira Accel & the Thunderroads.” Fuck it, it was better than “Akira Accel & the Genkai Lovers”* or something like that. Pretty soon, my bassist friend auditioned for another band and that was that.

*”Genkai Lovers” is a song by Japanese female metal band Show-Ya.

At that time, Jesus was playing with Slick & the Basteens and sometime later he started Zero.

Thunderroads drummer Atsushi is a guy I’ve known for a long time. We worked together a long time ago, way before I even started Accel 4, and he filled in on some studio recordings for Accel 4 between our original drummer Narita and Devil Moon. In fact, he played on one song on our first single, “Gasoline” I think. Afterwards, I’d see him around a lot. He played in a bunch of other bands that Accel 4 sometimes shared a stage with.

We had some different members but nothing came together. When my friend Masao, who works to spread the gospel of true rock’n roll through Fuji Television, invited us to play Rock ‘N’ Roll Summit, we were drummerless. I really wanted to play so I asked Atsushi. One of his bands had broken up and he was more than willing so he said yeah.

If you’ve ever seen us, you know that Atsushi is impressive to watch. It’s amazing that so much power, fury and personality can come from such a small, unassuming guy. I’d always wanted to play with him so I considered myself incredibly lucky. We only had two weeks to practice but he didn’t complain or anything. He was a consummate pro, kicking out the jams like a true motherfucker.

We cut the name down to just “Thunderroads” in 2005 when we played Billy Bass Wolf’s memorial show. We got an 18-year-old bass player named Kyotaro, but he left in 2007. Then, guitarist Golgo switched to bass but he also left for personal reasons. But even with the membership changes, the name change somehow brought cohesion to our until-then chaotic image and concept. I feel like we were truly a band then.

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After losing Kyotaro and Golgo, there was just no other choice but Jesus. Timing is a funny thing and there are times in life where shit all comes together like gears locking perfectly into place. Right at that time, Zero was done and Jesus said he wanted to work with me.

We’d been playing for about 7 years, but our first show with Jesus feels like it was our real first show. It just clicked immediately. When the three of us were first standing there on stage, I remember thinking, “Yeah, this is fucking IT.” The Thunderroads had come.

Don’t get me wrong, I played like shit. It wasn’t a great show performance-wise, but Jesus knew just what to do. I was right that he was the perfect bassist for the Thunderroads. We were determined to give it 100%. Backstage later reflecting on the show, I gave us about 30%. But fuck it, it was an important show. You don’t create a band through practicing but through getting up in front of people and rocking. And rock is what blasted from that stage. It took those 100 or whatever hours of practice somehow to produce that 30 minutes of rock and roll. It was a success.

That first show was actually like Jesus & The Thunderroads. The next show, at Shimokitazawa Basement Bar, is where we debut as a band.

Although we had new energy and a new spirit, it wasn’t a repudiation of the early stuff or Accel 4. It was more like the honing of the simple rock ‘n roll vision we’d always had, a sharpening of a blade. We could now deploy a kind of rock and roll that only the three of us together can play.

The world is full of shitty people. Jesus and Atsushi are both saviors as far as I’m concerned. I trust them more than anybody else and I hope that the three of us stay together as the Thunderroads for as long as we’re all still breathing.

I sometimes think that Shimokitazawa is the real center of Japan. Of all the things that could happen in this vast universe, I think it’s amazingly lucky that these three human beings came together in this place to create this noise and energy. Through rock and roll, I want to transform these streets of Shimokitazawa with thunder energy into Thunder City. I believe that faith and spirit can move mountains*. It’s just enough to make the effort, to start doing what you want to do, and you’re already starting to move that mountain. I’m sick as fuck of all these useless motherfuckers who just play for their own gain or profit. I want people to know that how you live your life is important, and you have this power.

(Here’s the original Japanese, nerds: “男子の一念、岩をも砕く”)

Right now in 2008, we human beings living on this planet are trying one-by-one to bring this energy. For my part, I have this sword called a guitar, and I’ll slash this stupid, tawdry world to shreds, starting on June 21 at Shimokitazawa Basement Bar.

 

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