After rounding 2016 off with a massive tour, 2017 is looking to be even bigger for Thundamentals, who just dropped their fourth album, Everyone We Know. Just ahead of the release we had a chat with Tuka, who gave us big insights into the album, along with some much welcomed news of another national tour.
You guys are on the Exhibition Tour at the moment, can you tell me a bit about that?
We made a collaboration with April 77, who did the visual component of the album, he’s done all our records so far. For this album we made 15 songs about 15 different people we have in our life, and we went to him and asked if he could make a character for each one. So the exhibition is basically the characters in their own environments. We’re going out and having listening parties, so as people look at each character they can listen to the record as well.
So each song is based around a separate person?
Basically yeah. Sometimes it’s a bit more surreal and abstract than being straightforward and just about one person. Sometimes it’s a personality that everyone can relate to or a personality that inspires a song. For instance, ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ is written about having friends or people in your Facebook feed that drop racist or ignorant stuff all the time, so that inspired this song. Whereas in the song ‘Sally’, it’s about an actual girl that I met who was very graceful in life, but she also danced like Elaine from Seinfeld. So it’s not always inspired by just one person, but the whole album is inspired by people we know.
Going back to ‘Ignorance is Bliss’, there are some pretty powerful lyrics on that song, as well as other songs on the album. Is it important for you guys to address issues like racism in your music?
I kind of feel like society has so much stuff, and we’re like antennas that pick it up, so anything powerful we have said has been inspired by something bigger that’s going on in reality. It’s hard to be original, so we have to take inspiration and comment on society. So if society does something that is powerful or that sticks in our mind and conscious, we will comment on it. I think critical thinking is really important for society. I would love if people were more critical of the world around them, not in a negative way, in an awareness kind of way, and I think that music and art can inspire that and help people to become more aware and appreciate things more.
I wanted to talk about Everyone We Know in general as well, how has the lead up to the album release been going?
It was a little scary, because the campaign went over Christmas and New Years, we’ve never actually released an album early in the year before. So we had to put everything down for a little bit while everyone went on holidays, because you can’t really try to sell an album while people are getting drunk with their family. We did a huge tour, then we just had to put everything down and wait, and then I guess the Hottest 100 kicked things back off for us.
But we were in the background doing things the whole time, we were recording the ‘Wolves’ video and had to organise everything for the art exhibition. But it was weird, normally you wouldn’t take six weeks off in the middle of trying to promote a record, but other than that everything has been falling into place…triple J has picked it up as album of the week, people are responding and we’re happy with the response so far.
Today is the second day it’s been Feature Album on triple J, have you heard much feedback since it’s been played on air?
We haven’t heard anything negative so far. Some of our more long term fans find it funny that we use auto tune in ‘Wolves’, but we’ve been telling them to rest assure, the whole album’s not like that. But other than that, it’s all been really positive.
‘Wolves’ is quite a different sound for you guys, and there’s a lot of diversity throughout the album Was that intentional or just how it panned out while you were recording?
I guess when you think about everyone you know it’s a very diverse community of people around you, so that was the guiding aesthetic that made it ok to make such a diverse sounding album. So conceptually that was something that we definitely intentionally did.
In that being said though, in all our releases we generally don’t stick to a specific genre or sound. Hip hop has been our backbone and that’s how we learnt how to wrote songs, so when we come across different genres and parts of different genres that we like, we use them and try to interpret them in our own way. I guess we could have stuck to one particular theme and ran with it for the entirety of the album, but I think people’s attention spans these days are better suited to something with a bit of variety.
This is your fourth album, have you found that your writing and recording process has changed and evolved much since your earlier albums?
I think at the end of the day it’s still just a couple of dudes hanging out in a studio. Whether it’s a bedroom studio or a real studio, it’s more or less the same. The three of us that originally started the group, none of studied music or anything, we’re still just crunching the hours and working on our craft, trying to keep getting better and better at it. I wouldn’t say this one is leaps and bounds better than our last record, but it is a little bit better, and hopefully the next one will be the same as that too.
You guys toured last year, but can we expect a proper album tour any time soon?
So last year’s tour was meant to be an album tour, but we turned it into a single tour because things weren’t sitting quite right on the record and we wanted a couple more songs on there to gel things together, but we’re definitely going to be touring for a lot of this year I’d say. We’re going to head over to New Zealand for our first tour over there, we’re doing Groovin The Moo, and then we’ll definitely have an Everyone We Know national album tour, probably mid-way through the year.
Last time we released an album we toured it for almost two years, so I can’t see it stopping any time soon. I think that’s the big thing for us, once we’ve finished the record we all really love performing and touring, so that’s like the best part for us.
Grab yourself a copy of Everyone We Know here.