Christopher Thorn [Interview]


Hey there Everyone! Remember when we used to talk about music a lot? I know that TWS has sort of become the MTV of the blog world, as we have shifted away from the plethora of album and artist reviews we used to do. But, we are so excited about these amazing interview opportunities that have been bestowed upon us. So, how about we combine the two. How about we showcase two of the best guitarists of our generation in one week? And tell you about some new shit you need to hear? Would you like that? Well, that’s what you’re going to get!

Christopher Thorn is the real deal in the modern world of music. For almost 30 years, Thorn has been thrilling audiences and listeners alike as the man behind the guitar for some of the finest acts of the 90’s and through to the present. In fact, he was the driving force behind one of the bands that was posed to be one of the greatest of all time, had tragedy not struck them so hard. I am talking about the legendary 90’s act Blind Melon. With just two albums released, the band was hit hard with the death of their truly unique and talented lead singer Shannon Hoon, that is now widely known. It is honestly hard to tell just what sort of magic Blind Melon might have been able to create had they been able to continue on. But, life doesn’t always work that way. So, we are left with two amazing albums that we can never be taken away from us.

Thorn’s later work has always been on our radar, as he has definitely refrained from diving out of the spotlight. He has continued to work with other amazing acts, as well as releasing his own wonderful projects. But, we will let Chris tell you about them himself! Ladies and gentlemen, Christopher Thorn!

As you were growing up, when did you first decide that you wanted/needed to join the world of music? Do you have any specific memories that still stick out to this day?

By the age of 12 or 13 I knew I wanted to play music and make records for the rest of my life. Once I made that commitment I had a focus and dedication that I never knew I had. I would wake up an hour early before school every day and practice. I had an amazing music teacher at school named Jeff Snyder who would let me practice in the music room during my study halls. I practiced before, during, and after school. I was obsessed and it felt great to find my passion .

As our old friend Marc Maron might ask, Who were your guys? What bands influenced you the most when you were coming up?

My influences are all the obvious ones. Jimmy Page and Keith Richards made me want to play guitar. Once I heard Bob Dylan and Neil Young, my focus changed more so to song writing and the craft of making a song that can drop you to your knees! The Beatles were also a huge influence as far as songs and production.

Would you be able and/or willing to give a brief synopsis of the formation of your first major group, Blind Melon? What were the early days like? And could you even fathom the amount of success you guys would have in such a seemingly short period of time?

I placed an ad in the LA local music mag in 1989 looking for a bass player. I met Brad Smith through that add and about a year later he and Rogers met Shannon. Brad called and said I found an incredible singer and we are looking for another guitar player. I went over and Shannon played me a new song he wrote called ” Change ” – When I met Shannon for the first time I thought this guy is exactly like all the legendary front men I have always read about. I had never met anyone with that much charisma, charm, and talent. He fucking blew my mind from day one. The rest is history as they say.

I don’t think anyone could really fathom that sort of success. I was a country boy from a tiny town in PA and I ended up on the cover of Rolling Stone. To this day when I even hear myself say that it sounds like I’m making it up. It still feel unreal.


Blind Melon struck a chord with the audiences of its time, and for great reasons. During this time of the sort of alternative renaissance as I have heard it called, what do you believe it was that made you guys stick out of the crowd? I know why it is special to me, but what was special for you?

I think we stuck out because we were not grunge. We were lumped in with that scene but we were on our own path. I also think Shannon’s personality and stage presence was a big part of that too .

Can you tell us a bit about Unified Theory that you started with bandmate Brad Smith and fellow rock geniuses Dave Krusen and Chris Shirin?

Unified Theory was a great time. We all got along really well. Brad and I produced the record in our own studios in Seattle and it was the first time we had control over every detail when it comes to the recordings. We toured our asses off and had a blast. I am very proud of the two records we made .

I have also become aware that you spent some time as a member of another group that I consider to be one of the finest rock acts of all time, the band Live. When was your period with this band? And how was this experience unique to you?

I was asked to join the band Live in 1998. I did a short tour including the Tibetan Freedom Concert and made The Distance To Here record with them. Around that same time I met Chris Shinn and I decided I wanted to form my own band. I asked Brad Smith and Dave Krusen to join and we were off and running. My time in Live was amazing . They had sold 20 million records by then and were riding high bu,t my time with them made me realize that starting over and forming my own band was more important than taking the easy road being a side man in Live .

And lets make more with the present, and ask about Sonny Boy Thorn. What can you tell us about this project, and what can the fans of modern times expect to hear, or have been hearing for a while?

In 2012 I toured the world with Awolnation as lead guitar player. I had a blast and it was a privilege to ride the wave of another hit song that I was a part of. The song “Sail” went on to sell 10 million copies but once again, I knew that starting over… ( again) and making my own music was something I had to do. I met Davie Dennis (Singer for SBT) around that time and we started writing songs . We brought in all our friends to help record. Glen Graham from Blind Melon, Matt Flynn from Maroon 5, Hayden Scott from Awolnation, Rami Jaffee from the Foo Fighters and Jim Keltner ( John Lennon , George Harrison, Joe Cocker and a million more ). It was an incredible experience. We have 20 songs complete and are just trying to figure out the best way to release the music . I truly feel like its the best record I have made since the Soup record .


Besides your own stuff, what are you listening to these days? Do you manage to keep up with the new trends in music?

I listen to a lot of new music . My new favorite band is Mondo Cosmo from LA . I love the Arc’s record as well . Queens of The Stone Age is also a modern fav . When it comes to Hip Hop I’m really digging Post Malone who recorded at my studio last month. He is the real deal and it might sound odd but his charm and charisma reminded me so much of Shannon.

What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug here?

I have some really big plans for the future that I have been working on. Art projects is all I can say at this point. I think the Melon fans will be very excited when I reveal what I have been working on. I am also excited about the Danny Clinch/Shannon Hoon documentary . It is one of the most unique and intimate films I have ever seen . Shannon shot all of the footage . Its like looking at some ones private journals .

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was Nico Hoon and her mom came out to Joshua Tree to spend time with my family and we all pretty much laughed our asses off for the entire week!

Check out this amazing video for Sonny Boy Thorn’s single “Wild and Free”:

Brandon Crowson [Interview]


I have been wanting to do this one for quite some time folks, and I am so happy to finally get it done. Today’s interview is with filmmaker Brandon Crowson, a man who has delved into a world that we are far too familiar with here at Trainwreck’d Society. Crowson’s debut documentary, The World Has No Eyedea, is a stunning look at the tragically short life of musician and poet Michael “Eyedea” Larsen. Avid readers of the site will know exactly how he fits in to the TWS world. For those of you just joining us (first of all, Welcome!), Michael Larsen has been a figure around here for a very long time. Or dear friend Alexander “Bodi” Hallet (former TWS Person of the Year!) wrote a very touching tale of Michael’s influence on him in what you may call the “prequel” to Trainwreck’d Society, our book Children of Mercy: Tales and Teachings From the World of Independent Music, and was also a dedicatee in the book. And since then, we have featured his work, and that of his friends for the last 6 years now. He’s a legend, and is sorrily missed.

So, it is quite the honor to have Brandon talk with us today. Brandon is a brilliant young mind with a future that is as bright as the sun. Years ago, Crowson linked up with the late Eyedea’s mother and a friendship was built that has become his amazing documentary, The World Has No Eyedea. Through years of hard working, crowd funding, etc., the film is now out in the world and is currently touring the country side with Brandon at the helm, and uniquely acting as a real solid live show usually featuring Eyedea’s former music partner DJ Abilities. For those of us who have not been able to attend the live shows, we are simply waiting impatiently for the physical release, that simply can’t come soon enough!

We wanted to talk to Brandon basically to see what makes him tick. How does a midwest boy from Minnesota decide he wants to make movies to earn a living. And he was gracious enough to share some very kind stories with us here today! So please enjoy some words with filmmaker Brandon Crowson!

What made you decide to become a filmmaker, working in almost every form of filmmaking? What drew you to this form of artistic expression?

I’ve just always loved storytelling. It fulfills me in a way that nothing else does. I’ve been writing stories as a hobby since I was 6. I didn’t really grow up in a background where the arts was encouraged, so after years of doing construction related jobs I got sick of paying my rent with backaches and went to college for screenwriting. I learned quickly that trying to be a screenwriter living in MN is a dead end, so I took it upon myself to learn everything I could about all aspects of production and started doing freelance video production while I was still in school for screenwriting. No one was giving me the opportunity to get paid to tell stories so I became largely a one man production crew and started making opportunities for myself.

And since you decided to make the commitment to be a full-time creative person, what keeps you inspired to be in the world? What keeps you’re head up when times are tough, and what makes you excited to see happen when they go well?

Honestly, I just love what I do. I’m kind of obsessed with it. I’ve had any number of good and bad jobs over the years, and I would fantasize about doing what I do now at every single one of them. As far as tough times and good times, life is all peaks and valleys. My motivation is always the same, I have to survive capitalism and provide for my kids. Only difference is now I literally never have days where I hate going to work. I have stressful days sure, but it’s different. There’s a certain pride of ownership that comes with working for yourself. And nothing touches the feeling of sitting in a packed theater and watching a room full of people look at your work and laugh when you wanted them to laugh and cry when you wanted them to cry.


You’ve been screening your documentary debut,The World Has No Eyedea, to audiences across the globe over the last year and some change alongside performances by DJ Abilities and more. What has the reaction with audiences been like? What has the feedback been like for the film and these events as a whole?

Overwhelming in all the best ways. Laughter, tears, cheering, more tears. No one’s called it boring yet. We’ve literally been selling out theaters everywhere, won awards, and sold out in countries Eyedea’s never been to, so I feel like I didn’t screw it up.

Is there any word on when fans will be able to check out the film from their homes? Are there VOD or physical releases set to happen in the future?

Hopefully May. That’s all I can say right now. We’re trying to release it online and on DVD at the same time, so obviously that involves working with bigger companies and waiting on their timelines.


Being from the area and knowing the scene quite well, what do you believe it is about the Minneapolis that has made it a hotbed for alternative hip hop? And does the city still have flare it had 15-20 years ago as its popularity has risen?

We’re definitely a city that has a lot more diversity than most midwest cities. So you get all these different perspectives and skills living in the same city. Add to that the fact that everyone has to lock themselves in their homes for the most part in the winter. The winter creates a lot of opportunities to get your skills up and create as you have to do something to stave off the madness that comes with sub zero temperatures and lack of sunlight.

Plus, obviously, Rhymesayers. That whole crew built something truly amazing over the last 20 years and created a lot of opportunities, as well as provided a lot of inspiration for Minneapolis artists, hip hop or otherwise.

You have been known to tackle just about every aspect of the filmmaking process, much like a Robert Rodriguez of sorts, which I can only imagine brings on a bit of stress. So I’m curious, what would you say is your favorite aspect of filmmaking? What part of it do you enjoy the most?

If you’d asked me this question a few years ago I would’ve said screenwriting. My 3 favorite parts now are writing, directing, and editing. In a perfect world, that’s all I’d do is write, direct, and edit one movie a year, every year until I die as an old man by tripping over one of my Oscars and breaking my neck.

What is next for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

Who wants to see Slug throw fire at people? My next movie is titled The Different. It’s a sci-fi/action piece that’s heavy in social commentary. I wrote it myself. I have Slug attached to play a character, which as a huge Atmosphere fan still feels weird to say out loud. There’s a couple larger production companies that are considering funding it right now, but I’m not counting on that. So we’re making a mini web series set in the world of The Different that will be used as part of the crowd funding campaign to get us the budget to make the film. We’re almost done with post production on webisode 1. I’m excited about it. I think it looks really good.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My son Griffin. He’s a toddler. 7/10 times that kids the reason I’m smiling on any given day.

Sadistik: Altars [Album]

It is absolutely insane to stop and think about what time can do to us all. It has almost been 6 full years since I first wrote a few words on this very site about the “underground” sensation that was/is Sadistik. “The bourbon in the espresso” I called him. And I will still stand by that one. So 6 years and  3 albums later, I can still only find great words to say about the legendary moody rapper that is Sadistik. He is a man who is constantly perfecting his craft, and always getting better at it as you can all hear right now on his latest album, Altars.

Altars is an album that brings us back a bit. It is a brilliant collection of poetry that is reminiscent of Flowers For My Fathers, in only that it reminds me personally of what it was that made me fall in love with this guy’s work. I’ve constantly referred to this man as “your favorite indie rocker’s favorite rapper”, and with Altars he only proves my point further. Just listen to “Roaches” and try to soak in all of the elements that went into telling this very dark story. You will soon realize that Sadistik is so much more than just a dude spitting bars over a some sounds with a heavy bass line. But, that is if you are a new listener, of course. Die hard listeners of Sadistik will definitely not be too surprised by some of the insane content he provides on Altars, but I guarantee they will be pleased! This dude has branded himself very nicely as the dark horse in the rap game, and his latest album proves just why he is the king of moody and gothic oriented hip hop.

With a solid track list, and some very nice cameos from old favorites like Kristoff Kane and P.O.S., Altars is an album that is destined to go down in history as one of his finest collections of poetry to date. Because in the long sighted view of his career, that is what Sadistik truly is: A fucking poet. And Altars is a brilliant addition to his catalogue that you absolutely must hear.

While we are sadly a bit behind in getting our words out to you, there is still time to catch Sadistik on tour with wonderful support from the great Nacho Picasso and the stellar Rafael Vigilantics, especially those of you out there in the cold midwest. And if you weren’t able to catch him on this round, you can definitely rest assure that Sadistik is far from being done with you. The demons in this man’s mind have to freed, and he will sure release them upon you for many years to come.

To check out Altars in it’s beautiful entirety, just go HERE.

 

 

Check out this amazingly produced video for the single “Free Spirits”:

Cas One Vs. Figure: So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us [Album]

By the time you are reading this, Cas One and Figure will be wrapping up their nation wide tour in support of this album (I believe they are in Portland Maine tonight!), and the explosion of So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us should have already exploited your ear holes and hearts and sad minds by now. So, just consider this a fan note if you will. And if you haven’t quite gotten around to hearing this incredible album, stop what you are doing, and either go listen to the album right now, or just park your running car in a garage and sit there, because I don’t want to know you. It’s that serious, People! I am going to straight up say it here and now…So Our Egos Don’t Kills Us is one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. A bold statement, I know, but arguable to the death. It’s just that damn good!

Long time readers will know that we have proverbially been on Jacob “Cas One” Snider’s nuts for quite sometime. We’ve even covered SOEDKU‘s debut single “Murder Media”, which is still a gem from the album, but just one of 15 now that we are hearing it all. I’ve personally talked about how his opening bars on the track “Savior Self”, released by another old friend Sadistik, are some of the most pivotal words ever put to record. And his long time connection with another dear friend of ours, Alexander “Bodi” Hallet, has come up from time to time. And I’m only bringing that last part up because Bodi produced another one of the finest hip hop albums, of all time, The Fall of Atlas, just a few years ago, and I want it to be on record when I say that So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us is the best hip hop album since Atlas. It is truly fascinating how amazing this album is, and I can’t express enough just how infatuated I am with it. There is a power in this duo that I simply was not expecting to hear, and am so happy with how surprised I am by its power. I knew I was going to love this record, but I didn’t realize just how fucking amazed I was going to be by it. And that is always a treat.

I will admit, I was not aware with the work of the 50% of this record, the widely successful in the electronic genre, Figure. I had honestly only heard his name brought up by Cas One himself. Upon further investigation, I realized that this was a big fucking deal. Figure has been one of the leading DJ’s in the industry for quite sometime. But, not being a part of that world, I was still clueless as to what Figure would bring to the table. And then I heard it. Holy shit, did I hear it. It is suffice to say that I can guarantee that I would not be as obsessed with this album if it were not for the beats that Figure provided and garnered strength for each track on this album. Snider is one of the greatest wordsmiths in the world of hip hop right now, and I will definitely get into that, but I have to say….with the production that Figure added to this album, this album could have been just Cas One reading the phone book in his best Mickey Mouse impression, and it would have surely still have been pretty dope. What I grab most from the music of Figure on this album, is the space. Through whatever spiritual algorithm that goes through this guys head, he knows how to fill the space in a track, with a perfectly delicate yet rash precision. He doesn’t over do it with extravagance, but he still manages to hold NOTHING back. It’s down right fucking brilliant how this man can fill the space perfectly on each and every track on this album. It flows together so beautiful that Cas One’s lyrics become just another piece of the the masterful jigsaw puzzle that is So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us. So simplify it all, it is fucking perfect!

And to make it all spin right back around, this album is a prime example of lyrical excellence! Though Cas One could have phoned it in on top of the beautiful production, we knew that just wasn’t what he is about. I honestly don’t believe it is possible. Jacob is known to cut deep. I honestly wasn’t sure how he could top his work on his last solo album, The Monster and the Wishing Well, but the motherfucker did it once again proving that his talent is almost unparalleled in the rap game. Whether he is making a political statement, or he is exposing is most inner demons for your god damned entertainment, he is telling a haunting tale that everyone should take heed form. There is a subtle difference on So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us from his previous work that has to be addressed as well….it’s not ALL sad shit! Jacob actually tends to lighten up a bit on some tracks (i.e. “Razor Blade Mark” and is 50 ft vape cloud), and proves that he doesn’t have to be brooding to tell an amazing story. His stories on this album will surely answer the questions that fellow followers of him in the social media world have surely been asking themselves, “How is the guy who writes all of these sad ass songs, so damn funny!”. Well, one quick listen through this album will give you all the answers. The album is not without darkness, of course, but beyond that darkness is a light that is undeniable and starts to shine through in a huge way. Cas One provides a perfect emotional balance within Figure’s perfectly filled musical space.

I won’t attempt to try and analyze each track on this album, as it would take a novel length set of  descriptors to truly do so, but I do have to point out that Cas One has some amazing company on this record to go along with his brooding yet light-hearted at times lyrics. There are some legendary names on this record even. Being that the album is a Strange Famous release, it was excellent to hear Sage Francis appear on “Time Bomb”, who will ALWAYS deliver. And of course, Del the Funky Homosapien and Carnage the Executioner fucking KILL on a track that is heavy on the old school vibe, “Lone Wolves”. And P.O.S. is on there murdering as well. These are golden names here, people. It should be no surprise that they brought an additional amazing element to this record. But, if I have to choose a favorite addition to the record, it would be difficult to choose one, so I have to make it a two way tie between Sean Little’s hilarious antidotes on the battle rap themed “I Should Just Warn You” and the return of Bitter Stephens on “Madness”. Stephens appeared twice on Monster and the Wishing Well, and was always a highlight to me. But, this is without a doubt one of the best verses I have heard from this cat to date. He absolutely slays in his role on this seminal album.

Look, I just have to say it one more time for you all….This is one of the finest hip hop albums I have ever heard! I come at this from a fan of lyrically based, or “alternative” as it may be called in some circles, hip hop music, and not just as another desperate for views Blogger with low self esteem and anxiety issues. I am absolutely in awe of So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us, if I haven’t quite made that abundantly clear. This is a brilliant collection of tracks that will forever be engrained into my mind as a reminder of why I love hip hop music so much. Very few artists today manage to bring this emotion out in me. Barely a handful actually, and the majority of them have actually already been mentioned in these words! The greatest take away from this pivotal album would have been that with the musical stylings of Figure and the lyrical madness that Cas One creates, Cas One Vs. Figure is a project that proves once again that hip hop IS an art form, and should be respected as such. If more artists would treat it with the respect that these cats have, the lack of respect would not exist. So, I implore each and every single one of you…..don’t just listen to So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us, experience it! I honestly don’t know how you could treat this album as anything short of a full on experience that will torture and delight your heart and mind. Again, it is that damn good!

Pick up a copy of So Our Egos Don’t Kills us directly from the Strange Famous website, available on vinyl, CD, cassette, and MP3.

Also you can catch a back end of their tour with DJ Abilities and B. Dolan. East coast get on it!

As a bonus for you fine folks, please check out this amazing music video for “Staying Gold”: