Every city needs an iconic rock band that can induce pandemonium in a crowd. Wilmington’s harbingers of rock ‘n’ roll, Thunderlip (T-Lip), are that band. They have recently rushed back to the fore with new music and their amps cranked to 10. They will play Ziggy’s by the Sea this Saturday to celevrate the drop of their third album, “Sunday Driving.”
Consisting of Chuck Krueger (vocals), James Yopp (guitar), Johnny Collins (drums), Vic Marriott (bass), and Chris Millard (guitar), T-lip was conceived in 2003. Their initial lineup featured Ben Lanier behind the kit, and they played local circuits until they were noticed by now-defunct Lucid Records in 2004. The company quickly signed them.
They released their first self-titled album in 2005, which garnered the band endorsements from skateboarding and surf companies, like DVS Shoes and Electric. As well, it placed them into Fuel TV’s “Top Four Metal Bands” of 2005.
Their second album, “The Prophecy,” was recorded in 2007 and released on Lucid Records. T-Lip toured extensively and even got to take part in the Levie’s-sponsored Props Visual Road Fools BMX tour, which starred many BMX professional riders. Founding member Yopp then formed the group Valient Thorr, which gradually slowed but never halted T-lip’s progress.
“We were just living our lives, playing shows and writing when we felt the time was right,” Yopp says. “The writing and dynamic between key members always draws us back for more. Plus, these gents are truly some of my best friends, so why would we not want to hang and make music?”
The considerable “downtime” also lead to greater results, as T-lip recently finished recording “Sunday Driving.” It’s the band’s first effort without a record label,” Yopp tells. “Not really operating as a fulltime band allowed us the time to really sit back and listen to what we had and hone it down. I believe the recording started in 2012 actually. We also didn’t have a label, so, naturally, the usual time constraints did not apply, which I think helped.”
Concerning the recording process, T-lip took matters into their own hands. They enlisted the help of their good friend Ian Millard, an engineer/producer at Mad Dinosaur Sound.
“[He] really gave us the freedom to come in whenever we wanted to change something or add a new idea,” Yopp mentions. “We would try anything, and if it worked, we kept it. We really went with our gut with this one.”
The first three tracks off the new record are available to stream online at the bands Bandcamp website (thunderlip.bandcamp.com). The first track, “Bad Things in Threes,” kicks off with an untamed impetus and sucks in the listener with vocal hooks and head-banging guitar licks.
Going by instinct rather than deadline,has its advantages, too. It allows the band to continue pioneering their own path. With every right to brag, recognition was never a part of it, and it seems like that hasn’t changed in regard to “Sunday Driving.”
“We just want people to hear it; it really doesn’t go beyond that,” Yopp declares. “I think that’s the goal for any real artist: to be heard or understood. We are so proud of what we have done. Personally, I can listen to the record and enjoy it. For a member of the band to say that is huge, in my opinion, and it’s true.”
Despite being part of rock ‘n’ roll—a genre where ego is bigger than ethos, and delusions of grandeur are a common prognosis—T-lip stands afar when it comes to the local music scene and trendsetting. “Thunderlip has never been a band concerned with the trend of the day,” Yopp suggests. “There are those who regurgitate what they see and hear and those who create. The latter in my opinion are becoming harder to find simply because it’s so easy for anyone to make music nowadays with the technology available. We are being flooded with mediocrity.”
With the closing of locally owned venues so dear to Wilmington (Lucky’s, The Soapbox, etc.), it can be discouraging to evaluate the music scene as a whole. “The closing of Soapbox was unfortunate,” Yopp laments. “It had that DIY feel that I think a lot of people took for granted, including myself. Seems like the scene is in a transition phase, and I’m not sure where it’s going.
“All through history since the mid-’50s, you see trends come and go, but rock ‘n’ roll always fights its way back because it is raw, powerful and real,” he continues. “The last tiger in a jungle full of cats, you know? Sooner or later, that lone tiger will find a mate, repopulate and reclaim the jungle. It’s inevitable.”
T-lip’s music is harmonious with their claim to remain unfazed by what surrounds them. More so, their voice of authenticity turns heads—especially when everyone craves originality. Their live shows drip with passionate flair. Krueger is notorious for sporting a dress onstage and screaming into his mic full-force, while the rest of the band windmills behind him with their long hair. Their flying-V’s surge through their amps, as the crowd responds in moshing droves. T-lip is definitely a party band, but this live act is no gimmick.
“We never ‘pump’ ourselves up for a show,” Yopp says. “It’s just a natural primal reaction to the music, I think if we feel the music, we move; if not, we don’t. We can’t fake it, we’re real dudes.”
T-lip will be performing next Saturday at Ziggy’s along with ASG, White Tiger and the Bed of Roses and A Bottle Volcanic. “Sunday Driving” is also at Reggies Records or can be purchased online via their Bandcampe webpage.
“We’re not ‘nice boys,’” Yopp says “‘Nice boys’ don’t play rock ‘n’ roll. Leave all reservations at the door.”
Thunderlip w/ASG, White Tiger and the Bed of Roses, and A Bottle Volcanic
Ziggy’s by the Sea, 208 Market St.
Sat., January 10, 9 p.m.