"It would be great to earn a living just from the band, but of course there’s a lot more to it than that, seeing as most of us don’t do it for the money at all. We do it for the cause. And for the love."
Canadian power trio Thunderor delivers fist-in-the-air, pedal-to-the-metal anthems that will have fans of Judas Priest, Saxon, and the like banging their heads by the second bar. With their February 2022 album Fire It Up, the band is quickly making a name for themselves in the international heavy metal scene. Drummer and vocalist JJ Tartaglia (also of Skull Fist) took some time to talk with Metalhead Money about the story behind the band.
From left: Oscar Rangel (bass), JJ Tartaglia (drums, vocals, keys), Jonny Nesta (guitar). Photo by Rae Chatten
Tell our readers all about your band! Where are you from and when did you get started? What is your music like? What’s up! We are Thunderor and we’re from Toronto, Canada. The concept of the band started in 2019, but only really formed in 2020. We play ‘80s-infused Heavy Metal’ as I’ve come to call it. It’s traditional heavy metal / hard rock, maybe NWOBHM to some, a bit of AOR too. We’re a power trio but also have synths/piano in every song, so I think it’s a pretty original thing we’ve got going for nowadays.
What are your goals for your band? Every band I’ve ever been in has always wanted to conquer the world and this one is no different. We’re gonna push this as far as it can go. When we started I told myself I would let my satisfaction of the album gauge how much push I was gonna give to the band. And with the album being done now, and being super pleased and proud of it, I’m gonna give it everything I can. The rest is up to the fans, haha. But so far so good, as we’ve already got international touring plans confirmed including a June 2022 Europe tour with Traveler and Toledo Steel that’s already announced.
What do you do for a living? It’s all in the music biz for me. Besides playing in Thunderor, I also play in Skull Fist and Operus, and run my own label (Boonsdale Records) which I’ve been doing for about 13 years now. So between all of those I manage to make a living.
How do you balance your work and personal life with the band? They kinda all blend into one thing for me. Since I work for myself, and my passion is my work, my days are just structured around constantly pushing and building my bands. But when you don’t have a set schedule it’s also easy to get carried away and just work all day, everyday. So I do need to remind myself to take time off / take breaks when things get really busy. But pretty often there’s chill moments too when not too much going on and then I can focus more on personal things and hobbies.
What do you consider to be the best investment you've made, music-wise? Starting the label, hands down. I was 23 when I did, and I remember I was very reluctant to make the leap. A whole $60 investment to register the business, haha. And a lot of work that came with it. But I’ve always had a motivated and risk-taking outlook on life. At that time I was also fortunate to have been inspired by Eric Coubard, owner of Bad Reputation records in France, who was our label for Zeroscape (my band at the time).
Back then I really liked to imagine having a label similar to Eric, and selling it when I was 50 to a major for say a whopping 50 grand (what I thought was a lot back then haha). Well I figured why not start early? Boonsdale has been great to me and has given me an outlet to release my music independently.
What's the worst or least helpful thing you've ever spent money on as a musician/band? A few years ago we hired a ‘big shot’ publicist to work one of my band’s releases. We gave him a couple grand. I don’t think we saw one piece of press from that haha. But I guess I haven’t learned because I’m still hiring PR companies that I don’t know on a whim lol. Ah the things we musicians do. We are believers. It’s also the East Coaster in me that believes people are generally good.
What kind of merch sells the best for your band? And what do you purchase most often as a music listener? The colored vinyl is selling the best so far. People are really into that it seems. Funny enough vinyl is also what I purchase the most, so I guess it’s not so surprising. I like to buy shirts as well though. Especially when no tours were happening, I would usually come back from each tour with a few new shirts (band /festival/venue shirts that I bought/traded or was gifted) so now I need to make up for that void.
Can you share some tour budgeting tips? Ah wow, that’s a whole ordeal. I guess the main thing is to not get ripped off. Shop around for whatever it is before committing, be it merch, transport, backline, crew. Get good deals on everything or at the very least fair prices. Use your resources, use any advantage you have for hook-ups on anything. Especially on DIY tours we’ll cut every unnecessary expense possible. Sleep in the van. But be good to the band, per diems for the boys is always good.
Which online music or social media platforms are most helpful to your band? I think Instagram has been the most useful so far for getting the word out, being that Thunderor is a pretty new band and we’re just starting to release our music. With my other bands, Youtube has been an amazing way for fans to enjoy our music, and I’m sure it will be the same with Thunderor. I also think Spotify is very important for today’s listeners, and being notable on there will be crucial.
Editor's Note: JJ is a avid biker and the band is actually riding the motorcycles in the "How We Roll" video. \m/
What does "making it" mean to you, and what do you think a band needs to make it in 2022? It would be great to earn a living just from the band, but of course there’s a lot more to it than that, seeing as most of us don’t do it for the money at all. We do it for the cause. And for the love. If I can play a packed theatre every night on a tour, and tour anywhere in the world, that’s more than enough for me. In order to get there takes a ton of work, a dedicated team, and most of all great music. For me it’s about the journey, so any which way it’s worth it.
Interview courtesy of Asher PR.
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