Heavy Planet and The Soda Shop
Well the March Bandness tournament is over. There were a lot of great bands involved but there could have been only one winner. Actually, the tournament was a win-win for everyone. A lot of people were exposed to a lot of bands and new music. When it came down to voting though, Ohio's own Threefold Law came out on top.
I recently caught up with James Thorn, vocalist and mastermind of all things Threefold Law and asked a few questions ranging from the tournament to musical influences to what the band is up to.
B: First off, congrats on winning. What was your initial reaction when you found out you won?
J: Stoked!! To be included in the contest with so many good bands and then come out on top was better than we could have imagined. Getting to hear all the bands was very cool. We appreciate the support of our fans. They really hung in there week after week. We want to thank The Wallace
Coleman band as well. Our guitar player used to play in his band and they had their fans voting too. Overall, hits on our dot com quadrupled during the contest. Big thanks to you guys! Soda Shop and Heavy Planet worked really hard to make this contest happen and it was a great time.
B: With the MMX release you took an interesting route with it's release on a USB drive. Those who bought it and watched the video know why. Overall, how has this worked out for you?
J: Sales of MMX on the USB drive have been steady. We took a risk by venturing into something new, and any time you innovate, people that have become accustomed to the traditional methods feel unsettled. We have fans that are computer-savvy and others that aren’t and we don’t want to leave anyone out. So on one hand, we recognize that mediums overlap and that we can’t abandon CD’s completely. On the other hand, music distribution on a physical medium is dying no matter how great you think vinyl sounds. Only time will tell with MMX. We’re confident that many people will come back around to that release after they’ve been exposed to other Threefold Law recordings because the songs on MMX are good. If you write good songs, the medium is secondary.
B: Do you plan on releasing more material in the future like this?
J: It’s hard for us to do anything the same way twice. I wouldn’t rule out another USB release. However, we are a band that strives to innovate. We compete with our prior work, trying to improve on what we’ve already done. Our songwriting and production grows from project to project. There are bands that release supremely heavy songs and do it well. They may do it on three, four, or five albums with a template that works. That’s not us. Threefold Law has a diversity of material that we consider to be “heavy” but you’re not going to get the same record twice from us.
B: We know you're working on new material. How's the progress going on it?
J: We’re pumped about Revenant. The songs on this record were written in a very short time span and recorded in a matter of weeks. I came across The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and became enamored with it. I brought an album concept inspired by Khayyam’s work to the band and we left it on the back burner until our drummer played a beat that fit well with a riff we had laying around. From that point on, it took on a life of its own. This is the first project we’ve written as an entire band which makes it sound unified. Plus, our drummer sings on two of the tracks which creates a cool dynamic against my vocal style. The album is based on the story of a desert traveler in ancient Persia that spends a night talking with the spirits of the ancients. There are five songs and four are named for the elementals (Earth, Air, Wind, Water). Track three is an acoustic instrumental called “Interlude”. It’s a concept album that takes the listener on a journey that’s designed to be listened to as one piece of work. Revenant will feature a free standalone website, including a full audio stream of the album and a companion eBook that I wrote. The deluxe package comes with the audio CD and a “pocket book” paperback version of the story, signed and numbered.
B: What advice would you give to someone who just picked up their first instrument and have decided they want to play professionally?
J: Don’t do it! Playing takes a lot of work. It’s much easier to sit on the couch and smoke. But if you do it because you love it, then don’t let anyone stop you.
B: Were there any bands in the tournament that caught your eye (ear) that you never heard of?
J: In our bracket, Burn Blue Sky stood out. The Devil Rides Out, Switchblade Jesus, Propane Propane, and John Wilkes Booth all got my attention.
B: For the gearheads, what type of gear do you use?
J: I’m assuming you’re not asking about my microphone and cable choice, so I’ll talk about my rhythm guitar rig. I’ve got an SG played through an early 70’s Ampeg V2 with 7027 tubes that give me a righteous tone. I run the amp through a custom-made Threefold Law cabinet loaded with Celestions that I built in my garage. It gives me a more focused mid-range than the Marshall I was using. The sound guy at our last show thought the cab “came from the future” because it’s skinned in shiny metal and has a Threefold Law light box.
B: Who were your musical influences growing up?
J: As a teenager, I listened to tons of hard rock and heavy metal. Everything from early Def Leppard to Iron Maiden to AC/DC. If you play guitar today it’s impossible not to be influenced by Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. While I loved Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains, I was also discovering what became known as “stoner rock.” It didn’t have that name at the time, but it was basically a fusion of Sabbath, metal, and fuzz rock of the 1970’s. In 1992 I was working at a music store. A “music store” was a building where they sold shiny plastic circles that played music. Record labels would ship new releases every Tuesday. We would lock the doors at closing, slice open a copy of every new release, crack a six pack, and crank the store’s sound system until the windows shook. We had the cops arrive several times and force us out of the strip mall. I think I listened to every new record, on every major label, released between 1990 and 1994. We listened to most of the heavy or stickered music after-hours so customers wouldn’t bitch. I remember exactly where I was standing (the Blues section between Rock and Jazz) when “Thumb” ripped through the speakers. Kyuss blew my mind and I’ve been a fan ever since. I was lucky enough to see Kyuss open for Danzig in December of 1992 at this shithole club with about twenty other people. There was an energy that Kyuss brought that night that made Glen Danzig look like a pussy…a short one.
B: What is your favorite album by those bands?
J: You’ve probably already figured out that the album I referenced in the previous question is “Blues for the Red Sun”. I’ve listened to that record hundreds of times over the past 19 years, stinking drunk and stone cold sober, with my drinking buddies and alone, and I always hear something new. That record is timeless.
B: What inspired you to form/join a band?
J: I’ve been in and out of bands since I was 19 years old. I can’t explain why I ever wanted to be in one. I was never interested in using a band as a way to get drugs or pussy. I honestly don’t know what made me decide I had to make music. What I can say is that Threefold Law is the most creative, driven bunch of dudes I’ve ever met. The four of us get along better than brothers. We come to the table with slightly different but overlapping influences and a desire to create good, heavy music while constantly making fun of each other.
B: What are some bands you're listening to now that we may not know about?
J: We have some fantastic bands playing around Cleveland and northeast Ohio. We just discovered some dudes from outside of Youngstown that go by the name of Album that are a band to watch. The Unclean out of Akron are another really solid bunch of musicians. I doubt I’d be able to name too many bands you dudes haven’t heard about.
B: If we were to look at your iPod/Mp3 player, who would we find on there?
J: Don’t got one. I became fed up with Apple when iTunes first came out. It pissed me off that the software would restrict what I could do with songs from CD’s I bought. Imagine the manufacture of turntables creating a needle that would only play your LPs on that turntable and nobody else’s? And if your turntable broke, you would never be able to play your LPs again, the ones you bought decades ago. The file encryption that iTunes uses is total bullshit. Because of that, I ripped my CD collection to mp3 and have them all on my laptop. I play the mp3 files with Media Player or Winamp and I move those files around however the hell how I want to. I bought the CD at $18.99. I have a right to have the mp3 files on as many computers as I want, provided I don’t cheat the artist by reselling them or giving away thousands of copies via file sharing. In my truck, I still prefer to listen to the CD player. Like most fans of music, I have a fairly wide range of CD’s in my collection. You’d see my heavy rotation of Kyuss, Down, COC, Clutch, The Sword, and Fu Manchu. You’d find classic artists like AC/DC, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Guns ‘n Roses, ZZ Top. I’ve got the industrial giants from the 90’s like Ministry and Nine Inch Nails. Tons of metal like Pantera, Lamb of God, Suicidal Tendencies, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Testament, Exodus.
So there you go. Everything you need to know. Check out Threefold Law on their website, http://www.threefoldlaw.com. Look for the new album Revenant due out in a few weeks. While at their site, you can download a track from Revenant called "Earth." You can also follow the band on Facebook.