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ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY


                                                                                                  

Alabama Thunderpussy - Hear the Pussy Roar
Interview by Dr. Abner Mality

When I first heard there was a band called Alabama Thunderpussy, I rolled my eyes in disbelief and then disgust. Such a goofy name couldn't yield a truly killer band, I thought.

Oh, how wrong I was!

The nail in the coffin of that particular naive idea has arrived with "Open Fire", the latest opus by the band...and my first actual taste of Pussy (figuratively speaking, of course). Well, I was headbanging like a fool 30 seconds into "Open Fire" and by the time we got to the slamming "None Shall Return" and the Molly Hatchet-on-steroids "Whiskey War", I felt like heading down to the local redneck bar and kicking the ass of every hillrod in the place! This is awesome Southern-laced metal from start to finish and highly recommended to anybody who wants a mudhole stomped in 'em!

So I tracked down drummer Bryan Cox and pinned him to the wall with questions on ATP's new, more metal direction, their new singer Kyle Thomas and the band's devotion to Ronnie James Dio.

Put on them cowboy boots, grab that whiskey and battle axe and head out on the highway with the mighty Alabama Thunderpussy...


WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Congratulations on an awesome new album!

BRYAN COX: Thank you, man, we really appreciate it!

WC: I always thought that past Alabama Thunderpussy albums made you nod your head and tap your toes, but this one makes you feel like breaking a bottle over somebody's head!

BC: (laughs) That's great! That's a very apt description of it. It's a funny coincidence, but we just got done shooting a video for some of it. We had a kind of house party where we filmed and yes, bottles were getting broken during that. It was a bunch of staged violence for the video and I'm hoping you get to see the results of that.

I agree about the sound of the album. We just decided to strip our sound down to what the band is all about and distill it. It's definitely a more aggressive and more metal sounding album.

WC: Did you know when you were in the studio that it was something special?

BC: As a matter of fact, we did. We had made the decision to toughen up the sound a little bit but as we were recording, we knew it was clicking really well. We record right here at my place...there's a kind of half-basement that we've rigged up as a studio and its kind of rough and bare bones, but it lends itself real well to our sound. We poured in some cement because it used to have a dirt floor. But the demo was smoking hot and then where we got it mixed, mastered and all that was not a really fancy place either. A little better than the basement, but not too much more. But yeah, there was a feeling that we had really nailed this one down.

WC: You hit a good balance because it sounds raw but I'd never guess it was recorded in those conditions.

BC: For sure! That's just what we were aiming for. Not over-produced but professional sounding. That's the way we will keeping doing it from now on...

WC: Is "Open Fire" going to be the direction ATP goes in from now on?

BC: We've never really repeated ourselves through our career. It's been a constant evolution. We've already gotten about five songs written for the next disc and some of them already sound different from what's on "Open Fire". But I think it's fair to say that it will continue to be more aggressive and lean.

WC: One thing that has always changed has been the vocalist situation. You're on your third vocalist in as many albums. How did you hook up with Kyle Thomas and is he "the man" for ATP now?

BC: You're right about the singer situation. You never know what's going to happen in the future, but we are all really happy with Kyle and hope he sticks around. Of course we knew of him because he was in Exhorder and all his other projects. We hooked up with him through the friend of a friend. He's from down in Louisiana and when a friend of ours moved from there up here, that's how we got to know him. He's doing his project Pitts vs. Preps, but he heard we were looking for a singer. We communicated, he sent us some disks and we really took it from there. He's been an awesome addition and he just fits so well with our style.

WC: He sounds great on all the "Open Fire" stuff but can he do the older ATP material?

BC: Oh, sure! He's a talented singer. A singer with talent is generally gonna be able to adapt and handle other styles. He's already sung on some older songs on a few low-level live shows with us and he nailed them perfectly, he fit fight into the songs and added his own touch. So we feel totally confident with him live. Like I said before, you never know what's gonna happen, but I think he will have a long future with Alabama Thunderpussy.

WC: As far as the lyrical focus on "Open Fire" is concerned, are the lyrics deep or are they more for entertainment value?

BC: They've all got some meaning to them, but some are definitely more personal and introverted than others. You'd really have to ask Kyle about the details, but most of them are stories and opinions brought from real life experience. The good thing is, you can understand and feel what he's talking about, it's something most people can really relate to.

WC: A lot seem to be about hard times and broken relationships.

BC: Definitely.

WC: But there are some that seem to be a little bit bigger. I'm thinking of "Valor" and "Greed". What are those really about?

BC: We are not really a political band and I don't want to delve too much into that, but right now our country and society is torn by conflict and war. "Valor" relates to that in a human way, about some of the sacrifices being made by people. Again, it's not a political song, but it's about how people react to conflict and make a stand.

WC: It's kind of like this barbarian on the cover. He's gonna stand up and fight no matter what the odds are against him.

BC: Exactly! That's exactly the kind of feeling we were going for and a good tie in to the cover. It's about a certain emotion. "Greed", on the other hand, is definitely more related to our society today, which seems to be getting shallower and more super consumerist by the day. Again, not to be too political, but that comes down from the top. That just reflects who's really running things today. Get more, at any cost.

WC: Money is God. They used to call the 80's the "Me Decade" but it seems a lot worse now...

BC: It is! And again, look at who is really running things and what they are after. That's what "Greed" is getting at.


WC: Taking a kind of side trip related to that barbarian, that's a traditional southern rock theme, like a Molly Hatchet kind of deal...

BC: Yeah, but that cover is by Ken Kelley and he's done work for a ton of bands like Kiss on "Destroyer" and "Love Gun" and Queen's "News of the World". The barbarian motif is also common to heavy metal. But yes, Southern rock uses it as well, especially Molly Hatchet.

WC: Could you ever see yourself going out and playing with Molly Hatchet?

BC: Hell, we'll play with anybody, anytime, anywhere. We've done some crazy shows in the past. We'd love to play with a legendary band like that. I mean, despite the fact that we are more metal, there's still that blues and groove feeling to our music. What a lot of people call Southern rock, that's just rock with a lot of bluesy flair to it.

WC: Your song "Whiskey War" definitely had the Molly Hatchet flair to it...the twin guitar melodies.

BC: For sure! That's exactly what we were going after with that one. As metal as we are, we don't want to lose sight of the roots. You listen to the early Black Sabbath or even Dio, you will still hear those bluesy roots to the music. That's something that's been lost in a lot of today's metal, I think.

WC: You guys have got a lot of side projects you are involved in. (For the record, they include the death metallish Birds of Prey, the instrumental Suzukiton and guitarist Erik Larsen's solo output-->
BC: Not for me, it isn't. I think ATP is the main focus for all of us. To tell the truth, I think the side projects help ATP as a band. If you're a talented musician, you always want to be learning more...learning more tricks you can apply. The best way to do that is to play with other musicians and dabble in other styles. That's what's going on with all the side bands. It keeps us fresh and in practice. And then we can apply it to Alabama Thunderpussy and make it a better band. No, there's been no problem so far keeping focus.

WC: Have you guys ever played with Nashville Pussy...or heard anything from them about the similarity in your name?

BC: Our paths haven't crossed that much. If they've got any trouble with the name, I haven't heard it. As far as playing together, there is actually some discussion of that, though I don't know what will come of it.

WC: You have got more in common than just the name...

BC: For sure! They've kind of been in their own world and we've been in ours. They play high energy rock and roll and we're a little heavier, a little thicker, but it wouldn't be a bad match at all.

WC: You could call it the Twin Pussy Tour...

BC: (laughter) Yeah, there are all sorts of interesting marketing ideas that could come out of that...

WC: You've been on Relapse Records for a while now. How's your relationship with them?

BC: Oh, great, we've had a great relationship with them. They've given us a lot of artistic freedom and promoted us well. They allow us to grow as a band. They give a ton of artistic freedom to their artists and it really pays off. We're very satisfied with Relapse.

WC: They've got some other bands like Zeke, Artimus Pyledrive and High On Fire that would be naturals for you to tour with.

BC: We've actually played with High On Fire on a European tour a while back and it was awesome. It was a great experience playing with those guys and I'm hoping we can hook up with them here in the States and do it again.

WC: I kinda thought the title track to "Open Fire" was a little like them. A very "growling", "rumbling" kind of tune.

BC: Absolutely, I can see that! I'd say that's the heaviest song on the new album.

WC: What's the last CD you bought just because you wanted to get it?

BC: Hmmmm...gotta think. (pauses) Does a DVD count?

WC: Sure!

BC: Well, then, it would be this DVD called "We Rock" and it's got two concerts by Dio in 1983. One was recorded in Amsterdam and the other was here in the States in Philadelphia. This was back when this band was at its peak and just killing the shit out of everything live. I mean, Ronnie James Dio is awesome...one of the most amazing singers ever in rock. It's the classic line-up for both shows and one is on the "Holy Diver" tour and the other was on the "Last In Line" tour.

WC: You can't get much better than that...

BC: No, you can't. I've just got so much respect for Ronnie James Dio, he's been doing this for longer than I've been alive and his voice is just so strong.

WC: I saw him at the House of Blues in Chicago a few years back. He did a two and a half hour concert...

BC: And nailed everything perfectly, I bet...

WC: He nailed everything perfectly. The guy is in his 50's and the last song was as good as the first.

BC: He's got to be close to 60 years old!!!

WC: I think 58. Then after the show, there was a meet and greet. The show ends around 12:30 or so. We wait and wait to meet him and finally around 3:00 A.M we get called in. I'm as tired as I've ever been in my life and Dio comes in and he's the freshest guy in the room by far...

BC: (laughter) That's what I'm talking about. In every interview I've ever read with the guy, he seems so down to earth and nice, with no big ego.

WC: That's just the way he was. I called him "Mr. Dio" and he said, "no,no, it's Ronnie". Moving on now, what kind of Spinal Tap moment can you remember from the history of Alabama Thunderpussy?

BC: Hmmmm! Hmmmmm....my God, there's been a lot of them. (long pause) I'm consulting with Ryan, the guitar player. What's that, Ryan? Oh, yeah...

WC: Got anything?

BC: Well, I remember when we were opening for GWAR and GWAR is a notoriously difficult band to open for. Their fans have the reputation of being pricks...it's not as bad anymore, but this was a while back. I got smacked right in the head with a full can of Pabst Blue Ribbon by some GWAR fan while I was playing. That tells you a little right there about the kind of fan they were drawing then. The combination of the kind of band they were, the kind of band we were and getting smacked in the head with a PBR pretty much says it all!(laughter)

WC: Well, I sure hope I see you guys on tour. You've got one hell of an album out!

BC: Thanks, man, I appreciate it. I hope we run into each other in Chi-town or Milwaukee...