SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE WITH THUNDHERSTRUCK!
Band Reviewed in Britain
Maria Wood Catches Up on Band News After Their World-Wide Summer Tour 2005

Link direct to subheadings:
Live at The Big Ball: Saturday 6 August 2005 (music review)
The Main Tour
Sight-Seeing
The Band's AC/DC History
The Future

Loud, entertaining and darn right dirty, well what else would you expect from ThundHerStruck; introduced as 'The best all girl AC/DC tribute band in the world' at The Big Ball in Wrexham (Britain). On their dynamic Asian and European tour, which included Britain, entertaining mainly the US troops, ThundHerStruck (a Californian-based band) experienced first hand the hostile environment of army life on-and-off military installations. Their experience enlightened them as much as their raw and gutsy performance entertained the army personnel. The drummer, Steph reports, "The 28-day 2005 tour, through June and July, took us from Europe into Afghanistan and was just an amazing experience." The aim of the tour, organised by AKA Promotions, was to entertain and help boost the morale of the troops stationed overseas. "Just give them a taste of home," asserts the lead guitarist, Tina. The vocalist, Dyna aims to spread the gospel of AC/DC and have a great time.

Live at The Big Ball: Saturday 6 August 2005…
The culmination of their tour took the band to a very different location, The Big Ball, a world-renown annual three-day AC/DC convention held in Wrexham, a town bordering England and Wales. Here, the band were reviewed playing to hard core AC/DC fans who knew every song lyric and guitar lick of their heroes. Tina confirms, "There was definitely more pressure, so it was important to perform it accurately." It would be a test for any tribute band. A lot of thought also went into the set list. Steph was responsible for its planning. She says, "We just waited the first few days to see what songs were played and what ones weren't, then we put our set together with some of the more obscure AC/DC songs: Beating Around The Bush, Riff Raff...; as well as putting in a few of the tougher tunes that might not be overplayed by all the bands: For Those About To Rock and Thunderstruck."

The girls had no problem living up to their growing popular worldwide reputation though. Launching into their gig set with Sin City, the girls reminded everyone why they were invited. In the opening riff, the audience simply were mesmerised by the band's presence and ability. The following Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap hooked the crowd in further - the chorus could be seen and heard reverberating from their lips. Putting on a Brian-esque cap, which needed no explanation, Dyna introduced Shoot to Thrill. The sheer heavy sound of the band coupled with Dyna's vocal prowess are best described as volume with finesse. The vocals reached such a high fever pitch on the end line, 'Shoot you down', that even Brian would find it hard not to be impressed.

Warmed up and steaming, Tina led the way with Are You Ready and Riff Raff. The gutsiness of her guitar playing and the raw vivacious energy of her Angus-esque grooves were fully manifested and turned into a manic frenzy in the ensuing Jailbreak and Beating Around The Bush - formidable stuff. Aided of course by Carin's constant and reliable rhythm guitar and the entertaining and swirling blur of her lively headbanging. She may be little and cute, but she has an abundance of energy.

Always there, sultry, calm and collected is Andrea, the backbone of the band. Her slick finger picking bass style acted as constant driving force on top of the drums. The remaining rhythm player, Stephanie is someone you couldn't overlook. Her playing depicts a dark, mean and moody power drummer who would double well as a solo act - viewing is highly recommended. She admits to regularly splitting a few heads and cracking a few cymbals! Her awesome sound manages to capture the quintessential needs of the song and is also a representation of her exuberant personality - pure entertainment. Standouts include: Sin City, Beating Around The Bush and Walk All Over You. The responsible tight sound of the rhythm section together with the creative side are a testament to the dedication and professionalism of the band members. Carin sums up the working relationship, "We are very comfortable with each other. These 'girls got rhythm'."

On the superbly executed Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution a big thank you went to Stick from Dirty DC, the headlining band, who lent ThundHerStruck his wireless system after theirs packed up. This revealed the remarkable good will and camaraderie between bands entertaining at The Big Ball - considering the competitive nature of bands together and the fact they all are emulating their heroes, AC/DC. Steph says, "All the bands there were cool and fun, and the best people you would ever want to hang out and play with. We all had a blast together and it was totally cool to meet up with all these great musicians and great bands from around the world that give tribute to AC/DC too."

Steph asked the crowd for some beer refreshment before her heavy pounding on Have A Drink On Me. The crowd, now accustomed to her drumming style, were only too pleased to oblige. Through TNT and Walk All Over You the audience became an extension of ThundHerStruck, a mass of banging heads and streaming arms.

The song, Touch Too Much was introduced as it was performed, 'a little dirty, sexy and rocking'. Here, Dyna's theatrical physical gestures, sex appeal and natural flexibility were more apparent and emphasized her all round talent as a superb front woman. Watching Back In Black from a distance you could be fooled into believing AC/DC were performing - that's if Brian Johnson donned a long curly wig or hair extensions.

The slightly mellower sound of Live Wire again really highlighted the dexterity of Dyna's rich and gritty vocals and her impressive ability to cover Bon Scott as well as Brian Johnson.

On Thunderstruck the crowd cheered throughout to the intricacies of Tina's sincere and genuine guitar work married with her ability to physically groove and look good at the same time.

One of the key standouts of the gig was Big Balls. Half way through the song Dyna pulled 'lemon' balls from inside her jeans and dispersed their bitter sweet contents everywhere to the delight of the crowd. The original humour, fun stage antics and the growling vocal sound of the song were fully captured, together with Dyna's theatrical gesticulation made it memorable.

The delivery of the final track, For Those About To Rock, sealed the absolute approval of the new fans. The girls' pumping force and adrenalin fully consumed the crowd in excited delirium. They were now committed followers and physically showing it - headbanging in unison.

A final word must go to the band's most recent tour manager, Frank Urtado. Life on the road was made so much easier with his support. Steph sings him praises, "We truly have had the pleasure of working with some great peeps, and Frank is absolutely one of the best." Carin refers to him as, "part of the family", and Tina says, "he is awesome and a lot of fun to be around".

The Main Tour…
If the gig at The Big Ball was an example of the main tour, then the positive response from the troops is hardly surprising. Steph reveals all, "Everyone pretty much loved the show. Sometimes they would come out to see us out of mere curiosity that is five chicks thumpin' out AC/DC? Hmmmm! But once they saw our high energy, larger than life, kick'em in-the-ass show - they were hooked." She adds, "We always have received an extremely warm welcome from the troops on-and-off stage. They don't get too much entertainment out there, and to have five girls playing AC/DC, well, that's a treat." Tina also responds, "They treat us like rock stars - it's cool."

Tina recalls a gig on a frontline base Sadr City, Iraq, "The troops never have had any entertainment there so we wanted to put on a good show. The cymbals didn't show up! So Steph played with a couple of trash can lids, it was highly entertaining, and the soldiers loved it. They brought an injured soldier out on a stretcher towards the end of the set, it was an incredible feeling to bring them so much cheer. One of the soldiers came up to us after the show and said he forgot where he was for 90 minutes, now that's a great feeling."

Chatting about the actual tour, Tina says, "Of course, there's a lot of travelling. We played three shows in Kosovo, two in Bosnia, one in Kyrgyzstan, one in Uzbekistan, and three in Afghanistan…. It was amazing, the troops were awesome and took great care of us. We got to shoot live ammo which was really cool; barbecue on July 4th with the special forces guys; we hung out with British guys who showed us the Harrier aircrafts; and we were shown around one of the emergency medical facilities where they take care of all the injured and trauma patients - they do an incredible job there. We got to really appreciate what the men and women do in the armed forces by seeing what they do first hand. They sacrifice so much for their country."

The girls highlight the great gigs that come to mind. Andrea says, " Laghman for sure - a small tiny base in Afghanistan. The troops even sang Bon Jovi songs to us by karaoke after the show!" Carin says, "Yeh, that was one hell of a gig, I had an IV for dehydration and didn't think I was going to be able to play, but we did and it was great. Petes' Place at Manas AFB was cool too. I think my favourite was Bondsteel (in Kosovo)." Andrea drifts off, "It's always an adventure. It seems like there is no time to be exhausted even though you are. The positive energy from men and women out there is like magic fairy dust and keeps you going." In agreement Carin says, "Andrea's right, there's no time to be exhausted. You get a little worn out when you get home. So you got to really take care of yourself over there. We all worked out and ate good and had a wonderful time, meeting wonderful people."

Steph sums things up: "I loved this 2005 tour and the others for different reasons: from how great all the soldiers were; to being flown in Black Hawks from base-to-base to play; to some of the great things we've seen throughout all the different countries. It was truly incredible!" She also points out the many musical 'celebs' they came into contact with on their travels, "Yep! We've played with many: Foreigner, Great White, Warrant, Journey and George Thorogood. There's been a lot of very cool bands we've had the privilege of playing with - and yep, not only do we meet them, we usually end up hangin' out havin' a good time with them after the show!"

Sight-Seeing…
On a more serious note, the band members never lose sight of the constant danger they faced on the European and Asian tours. Dyna refers to the 2004 tour in Iraq, "Another band that came over with us had to cancel a show because a mortar hit about 30 feet from the stage right before they were about to perform." Tina also remembers on the previous tour when the band had the opportunity to fly over Baghdad in Black Hawks. The girls had to wear full combat security gear in the extreme sweltering heat. Andrea says, "It's always dangerous, but we were well protected." So under heavy security the girls had the opportunity to sight-see civilian and military life.

On the 2005 tour, Andrea was surprised by the beautiful Afghanistan terrain whilst Carin recalls riding in Chinooks and observing the Kandahar buildings, which the Americans took over after 9/11. She asserts, "Pretty weird being there."

Kosovo stood out for Dyna, she explains, "When we played there in 2003, the city looked very desolate and war-torn….there were lots of bombed-out buildings and the scenery was very 'brown'. When we came back for the 2005 tour, it looked completely different. The city was thriving and the surroundings were green. It really was nice to see!"

Memorabilia acquired along their travels…
Along their travels, Stephanie enthusiastically talks about the memorabilia acquired, "Lots! From great 'pics' and CDs the troops made for us, to the awards of appreciation presented to us by commanders at the bases where we performed. Again, it was quite an honor. Did I mention all the cool 'cami' stuff too?"

Andrea's momentos included, "A matchbook offering a reward for Osama Bin Laden, and a stone from the rubble from one of Saddam's old palaces."

Adding to the list, Tina says, "We received a lot of certificates at many of the bases we played. The soldiers gave us personal items of theirs like hats…which we like to collect. They bring back good memories."

The Band's AC/DC History…
The ambitious decision to put together this female AC/DC tribute band began four years ago, under a different name and line-up. The current and more successful set-up has been together about two years. Tina says, "We feel that the chemistry between us is unique. It's not often that you find a group of people that you get along and play well with."

The phenomenal musical experience between the girls adds up to a lot of years which explains their natural and confident stage performance. Dyna started her musical career as early as four years old learning a variety of instruments. When asked about her vocal coverage of Bon Scott and Brian Johnson, she says, "Actually, I never knew I could sing this gritty before I joined the band! My main influence growing up was Ann Wilson, so I probably have a tendency to sound more like that. It's definitely a blast singing the AC/DC tunes though."

There is a slightly theatrical approach to Dyna's stage performance and hints of extreme flexibility or the possibility of being double jointed. When put to her, her response was one of surprise, "Double-jointed? I'm not sure where that came from! Ha! I am pretty flexible, but I'm puzzled at how you would know that from watching me on stage? Did I drink too much and do something I can't remember? Since you saw us at The Big Ball, that's a very real possibility…."

Almost considered a guitar veteran with over 23 years experience playing, Tina talks about her musical background, "I'm primarily self-taught, but did take classical guitar lessons for two years when I was at college studying musical instrument technology (guitar building)." With regard to playing AC/DC music, she reports, "I only started emulating Angus Young moves when we started this band. I had to study his moves by watching videos. It takes a while to get up to speed on the live show, 'cos you have to get very comfortable running around and playing his parts. Now it feels very natural for me, 'cos I have been doing it for so long." Concerning difficult tracks, Tina says, "I don't really think any of them were too difficult to put together. It's more difficult to incorporate them with the movement, especially the track Thunderstruck which has more intricate guitar lines." On the fitness side she admits, "I definitely have to keep fit to do this. If I didn't, I'd probably have a hard time making it through the show. I'm in constant motion, and then singing backups on top of that takes a lot of energy." She adds, "I feel great after a show. The audience's reaction to us is very cool. They get a lot more than they expect 'cos the show is very high energy, and of course a great source of exercise."

Steph also started an early musical career following in her father's footsteps as a drummer. It's hard to believe a slim blue-eyed blond could hit the drums with such power and velocity. However, get to chat with her and her strong dynamic character is a give-away to her real personality. Talking about The Big Ball in her deep infectious tone, she laughs, "Well, this particular gig brought out the 'headpounding' in me! It requires more than just precision in my performance, it also requires an energy from me that AC/DC tunes so deserve. I play it hard and loud, but also work it dynamically to bring out the heartbeat and feel of the song."

Steph describes the comaraderie between band members, "Well, Tina, Dyna and I have known each other for quite a while and have played in several bands together in the past, so this was just a fun project that we wanted to do, just to keep playing and have fun." When the new rhythm members came along, Steph says the band became a force all of its own, "I definitely felt Andrea and I gel immediately. There's a massive amount of great musicians in LA, but it takes a really 'laid back, in-the-pocket kind of groover' to get the right feel for this stuff. It's really not as 'cut and dry' as it sounds. And when Carin joined the band it was a God-send. She can play Malcolm's part like a pro. Very tight, locked-in and with a great tone."

Steph ponders on rehearsing and fitness, "No, we don't really rehearse too much…as long as we all 'do our homework' and know the songs, we can come in and tighten them up with the band and then add them to the list of AC/DC tunes we play. As far as staying in shape to keep up energy levels, just give us a few shots and a few brews and we're on, 'GO!'". She catches her breath for a moment then continues, "And as far as being burnt out at the end of the gig, we actually wait to burn out 'till after the party." It must have been one long slow burn out 'cos ThundHerStruck were rumoured to have partied for three days before The Big Ball show, then carried on afterwards….

Andrea's musical influences initially started with the Beatles and R'n'B, but her big passion is Rick James. As a slick finger-picking bass player, her motto is, "I wanna do a better show every time if I can." This accounts for her professional and solid approach. However, when it comes to keeping in shape, she says, "Hey, everyone knows I love to eat but, I'm TRYING!"

Carin's been in the band nearly two years. Her musical experience ranges from classic rock to Slayer as well as being a big Reggae fan. Highly regarded as a tight, in-your-face rhythm guitarist with an easy-going and fun character makes her the perfect team player. Carin just says, "Both Andrea and I jammed together before joining ThundHerStruck." When she auditioned for the band, she says the rhythm section "pretty much instantly gelled".

The future…
So what does the future hold for ThundHerStruck? Tina says, "Our motto is to move onwards and upwards. Who knows where it will take us? It's like a joy ride." Andrea drifts off, "More tours abroad or the rest of USA - wherever the fairy dust blows!" Steph says, "Southern Calfornian shows. Then, we start it all again! Rock and Roll!"

Check out the new promo CD, You've Been…Thunderstruck…


 


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