Few bands warrant birthday parties, Thunderlizards is one. You may know the band has destroyed house shows, and literally killed three people at the Block Street Block Party (no official charges were filed for lack of evidence), but did you know that they are the rambunctious heart and artistic soul of Fayetteville’s suddenly revitalized punk scene?
Taking DIY punk, speed metal, blues, and garage rock to certifiably super awesome heights, Thunderlizards is THE band Glenn Danzig would have started in the early 80s if he wasn’t so short and easy to punch. A band you want to live vicariously through, and a band that has probably vandalized your car. I asked band founder/singer/guitarist Nick Shoulders some questions about Thunderlizards, and their upcoming one-year birthday show and he agreed to
answer them only via email and in separate rooms, but here they are…
Why did Thunderlizards happen, please be specific?
Thunderlizards has been in the making for about five years. I played drums in a metalcore band in high school that did a little regional touring and recording, and we broke up right before I moved to Denver for school back in 2007. It was awesome being involved in music that young (having your parents drive the van to shows out of state was hysterical), but by the time it was all said and done, I was really fed up with the type of music I was playing and the stuff I was listening to. So in Colorado I got bored and homesick and taught myself to play banjo and harmonica and tried to figure out rock and roll from the ground up by immersing myself in the music that created it. Eventually I ended up back in Fayetteville. About a year and a half ago I wised up and bought a guitar, but couldn’t figure out how to play it like everyone else. So I put it in an open tuning like a banjo and just played slide guitar. Some people are surprised to learn I don’t actually know how to play guitar. I just fake it. I was doing a one-man band deal for a while where I played drums with my feet and guitar at the same time…eventually I got tired of trying to do everything myself so I got some pals to play with me and…bam. You’ve got Thunderlizards. We played pretty much the same material as my one-man band at first (blues-punk and rockabilly), but a lineup change and a year later we barely even sound like the same band. I guess Thunderlizards happened because I think Fayetteville should have to put up with more loud, rowdy and ridiculous bands that don’t take themselves (or anything for that matter) very seriously. Fast, heavy music that still remembers to pay homage to the place it came from…above all we try to sound honest, mean and raw so we can avoid the pompous intellectual spin that has sort of dominated Fayetteville’s DIY music scene in recent years. Blues made this band.
Please describe the band to someone unfamiliar with music?
S**t, that’s tough. Party Punk? Retard Rock and Roll? Thrashabilly? I guess the the simple answer would be “loud” or “stupid”. One dude told me someone had recommended us based on the fact that we were a grunge band. I can’t tell if I’m more entertained or bewildered by that one. We like to claim we’re “the best bad-band in Fayetteville”.
What have you learned from one year of existence?
This last year I have learned to play the guitar, first and foremost. Kind of. And my bandmates have thankfully learned to put up with my lackluster musicianship and have been a lot of help. Being a frontman is new and weird to me too, and presents bizarre challenges I never dealt with as a drummer. Such as how to hold a fork after tearing my hand up whilst ripping my guitar strings off…or how to avoid getting crushed by heavy set chicks that stage dive. If you break your guitar in half, your friends can glue it back together. Science. I was fortunate enough to get exposed to booking shows and the ins and outs of band stuff from a pretty young age, so there wasn’t much of a learning curve when it came to all that. It also helps that my bandmates rule and we’re in a really awesome friend group that shared the same musical upbringing, so making CDs/shirts and whatnot and getting them out there has been a shared labor that we’re all familiar with.
What can we expect from the sophomore year?
Sophomore year’s going to be a big one we think. Touring, a full-length album, more shirts, more hangovers and super-soakers filled with whiskey…general chaos. We just hope we’re alive to see this same thing happen next july.
What non-musical influences affect the band?
Well, not to get too explicit here, but we’re in a cult that has a huge bearing on the content and ferocity of our music. It’s a very serious thing. That’s why the whole band typically dresses exclusively in black. Most of our songs are tributes our god, The Grump. He’s a twelve-foot copperhead that rides a black motorcycle to White Rock Mountain every full moon. Once there, he gives us peach candy and burnt sweet potatoes before summoning giant piles of baby milksnakes that melt and burst into flame. The Black Sabbath basement tapes play loudly throughout all of this. We all drink quite a bit, too.
If Thunderlizards could switch places with any band, which band and why?
S**t, easy. Guns N’ Roses. They have an ass-ton of money, never play, don’t speak to one another and are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s the easiest band ever.
Why should we go to the one-year b-day show?
Hmmm, I’m not much of a salesmen, but I will say this. Honest injun, if you come to our show, you will leave substantially deafened…your neck will be sore from headbanging, you’ll smell like beer and cigarette smoke and your eyes will be a little bit singed from our stunning light show. But, you’ll be a better person. However, if all this stuff sounds bad to you, you probably won’t like the music anyway, so you’re better off playing Yahtzee and watching The Weather Channel at home. Plus, it’s Friday the 13th, so we’re going to f**k up a lot and everything’s going to catch on fire, which will definitely be worth watching.
Where can someone find your music? Any future releases in the works?
Look us up on Bandcamp or Facebook, buy our EP at Sound Warehouse or from us at the next show. Hell, just give me a holler and I’ll give you a copy myself. Either way, we’ll be happy to see you. We’re also starting a clothing line called “Fayettekill” and it has nothing to with a fictional Ozark Mountain lifestyle. Wasted Life Records says hello.