Ten years deep into their career, there’s no denying Thundamentals are the stuff of Aussie music legend. From their self-titled EP back in 2008 to the Matt Corby cover on Like A Version, the infectious tune ‘Sally’, ARIA nominations and hitting every major Australian music festival along the way—the past 10 years have been anything but stagnant.
The trio is celebrating a decade of songs and shenanigans with an epic nation-wide tour ‘Decade Of The Thundakat’. With infectious tracks and down-to-earth vibes, we may end up looking like Sally on the dance floor during these gigs.
Alongside their accolades and seemingly endless tours, it’s Thundamentals’ ongoing efforts to spread love and inspire a positive change in their own community that has earned them thunderous (pun intended) respect from both fans and the hip hop community as a whole, raising tens of thousands of dollars through their Got Love Initiative on behalf of the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown. It’s initiatives like this that have made Thundamentals so much more than just a bunch of blokes who write hip hop tracks.
In the lead up to this epic tour, we chatted to Jeswon about all things ‘Sally’, touring with Hilltop Hoods and what’s to come in the next decade for these Blue Mountains blokes.
Congrats on ‘Sally’ coming in at number 8 in the Hottest 100! What did you get up to on Australia day?
Thank you! I was actually just visiting my family in the Blue Mountains so I spent the day and the evening with my brother, sister, niece and nephew. My niece and nephew were really excited—it’s kind of like celebrating Christmas with kids. The older you get, Christmas and birthdays aren’t as exciting, but when you’re celebrating with kids it reinvigorates your sense of excitement. It was similar with the countdown. I was definitely excited, but to see them losing their minds as the songs were counting down and ‘Sally’ hadn’t been played was really cool. It was getting to a stage at about the top 10 where I was like: “Oh my gosh, if it doesn’t make it in at all, these kids are going to be so upset.”
The Sally music video is just as infectiously joyful as the song. What was the process of filming that like?
It was basically resting on developing the ideas with the director and the crew of people he works with. After that, we left it up to them to source out all the costumes and the dancers and that sort of stuff. When we rocked up, they had this whole wardrobe section full of 80’s-inspired fluro outfits. It actually felt pretty natural us just being goofballs on an 80’s aerobic set all day.
How has your songwriting process developed and changed over the last decade of Thundamentals?
We can work a lot more efficiently than we used to. It’s just become easier overall because we have a better understanding of each other as people and we’re definitely better at what we do now. You’d hope that after 10 years there would be some improvement, but I definitely think I’m a better songwriter. I can’t remember who exactly it was, but I heard an interview a while ago discussing the idea of genius. I’m by no means saying that we’re any kind of genius, but her argument was that to be touched by inspiration or genius you have to put yourself in the position to receive that inspiration. So for us, it’s about turning up day in, day out and being ready to work. You may or may not be touched by that inspiration or that genius but if you’re giving yourself every opportunity to be, then you’re more likely to have that happen. Some days everything you write feels average, and other days you can write 2 to 3 songs and it feels like they’re all magic. So it’s just about putting yourself in that situation. Overall I think we’re just much more diligent and ready to work hard now.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice 10 years ago, what would it be?
Just to believe in our potential a little bit more than I did when we were starting out and have faith in that if you work hard, good things will happen.
What does the future look like for Thundamentals?
More of the same hopefully. Just making good records, putting together quality projects and being able to tour and share our music with the people who enjoy it in a live capacity. Personally, every day I wake up and just pinch myself because it feels like we really are living that dream that we wanted to when we were kids. We’re like family, you know? There are not many people who get to work with their best friends every day on the kind of art that we love to do. We’re hoping to just keep this momentum going for the foreseeable future, releasing more albums and touring across Australia and maybe overseas.
With the Decade of the Thundakat tour, will you be playing some of your older repertoire as well as your new stuff?
We’ve got a few songs scattered throughout the set that are throwbacks to those earlier days. A lot of people have only really heard of us in the last three to five years, but there’ll definitely be moments for those that have been kicking it with us since the start.
Who has been your favourite artist to perform live with so far?
Supporting A Tribe Called Quest at the Hordern Pavilion a few years ago was super memorable. I grew up listening to them and really appreciated their music, so it was really cool to be able to share the stage with them.
What was the coolest thing about touring with Hilltop Hoods?
Those guys are an institution not only within Australian hip hop but in Australian music in general. To be able to support them in New Zealand and Australia and also through Europe was a big thrill. It was amazing making that transition from being big fans of theirs and seeing them as semi god-like figures within the genre of music that we make, to discovering they’re just super normal, down to earth, hilarious, kind-hearted people that have now become good friends of ours. That has probably been one of the richest experiences we’ve had to date I’d say.
If you could pick anyone in the world, who would you love to collaborate with in future?
Wow. Probably like Frank Ocean. He’s got such a unique, distinctive voice and such an amazing talent. Either him or Kendrick Lamar. Why not shoot for the stars while we’re doing these hypotheticals, hey?
We love the cover of ‘Ivy’ you did for Like A Version. What was the whole process of remixing that Frank Ocean track?
It was a song that we all really liked. That ‘Blonde’ album is just incredible. There was no point trying to sing the song like he does because no-one can, so it was just a matter of flipping it a little bit to make it more in line with what we do. Hip hop lends itself really well to things like ‘Like A Version’ I think. All the hip hop acts seem to get really creative with it which is awesome. The whole idea of how hip hop started was sampling records and taking bits of pre-existing music and flipping it to become a new entity. We all had different things that we thought would fit well into the theme of this track, so it was really fun to inject ourselves into it.
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