Somewhere between your failed attempts at actually working today and your online shopping, I'm going to give you a little treat. It's an interview with a charming, smart, and extremely talented band that you are about to hear a whole lot more about (and not just from me)!
The Morton Report is thrilled to have found the compelling, haunting, and highly addictive Thirstbusters and even more excited to share the EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE of "Can't Fight the Feeling" from their upcoming album, Caught Between, releasing early next year. Their sound, described as melodic, jazz-infused pop, evokes Coldplay and Dave Matthews Band and has a richness and depth despite the band's youth (all of the band's members are currently seniors in college). We are gifting another holiday treasure with the release of their rendition of "Deck the Halls," from the upcoming TNT movie ironically titled Deck The Halls.
Download these little Cyber Monday gifts here (they are zipped MP3 files, and virus-free!) and listen while you keep reading. Then promptly send them to a friend and spread the holiday spirit!
So why should you read about a foursome of college kids who grew up in Berkeley, CA and started a band? It's simple — their music is extraordinary, their talent inherent, and their unique understanding that making it big in the music industry comes with the responsibility of education, hard work, and collaboration with truly trusted partners is impressive. It's a brotherhood of the new economy built around a business of old and these kids are doing what it takes to make it work. Thirstbusters really has a darn good shot.
I connected with Chase Jackson (bass guitar, guitar), Forrest Mitchell (drums), Zach Sorgen (lead vocal, keys) and Ryan Thomas (lead guitar) last week (and by connected, I mean I exchanged emails, tweets, and Facebook updates because Ryan and Forrest are at UCLA, Chase is at Oberlin, and Zach is at Vassar). Here is what I learned about these four very distinct personalities who make some pretty sweet music together.
When did you first start playing or making music?
Chase Jackson: I’ve been banging on stuff for as long as I can remember. I got started playing music at informal jazz jam sessions at a family friend’s house. I fell in love with an instrument called the vibraphone around age nine.
Zach Sorgen: I started piano lessons at the age of seven and wrote my first song around the age of ten. I then joined the middle school jazz band, singing and playing trumpet and the baritone horn.
Ryan Thomas: I first started playing guitar when I was around ten years old. My dad had an old Fender that he never played. One day I was home sick from school and put on one of my dad’s Jimi Hendrix records and just started playing along to it.
Forrest Mitchell: Well, I guess I first played the drums when I was still in arms, but officially, I started playing music seriously in the fifth grade. My dad introduced me to the drums and then I began to play in the Prospect Sierra jazz band.
What song do you remember from your childhood?
Ryan: "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor. My dad listened to it all the time. Really showed me how great just a guitar and voice can be.
Zach: “Back at One” by Brian McKnight (among MANY others).
Chase: I grew up listening to the Beatles almost religiously. By the time I was six, I probably knew every lyric from every song, I’m pretty sure. “Ticket to Ride” was a favorite.
Forrest: I remember dancing with my cousin to the song, “Will You Be There,” off of Michael Jackson’s Dangerous album.
Ryan: My first concert was seeing Peter Frampton. It was probably one of the best concerts I have ever seen. I remember such soulful guitar playing and great songwriting. His whole band was so tight musically. I remember not being able to sleep that night because I was so enamored with the guitar. I had to learn how to do what he was doing!
The connection with the audience was beautiful. People were singing along, crying, laughing... this is what it’s all about. Having people be moved through music.
Why this band, why now? We can tell you guys are just about to break — why do you think that is?
Zach: Chase, Forrest, and I have known each other since elementary school! And I started writing pop songs with Ryan pretty much as soon as we met. So these guys are my homeboys. But not only do I love them as friends, I really respect them as musicians. There are so many things I want to learn from them. Sometimes I wonder how many hours Ryan must have spent in his room practicing before he could play that sexy guitar lick. Since we’re all studying music in school and were trained in jazz, we can talk about harmony and rhythm in a way we all relate to. We try to listen to and bounce off each other, really interacting and playing together.
I love Vassar and am learning a lot, but there’s nothing like coming home to Thirstbusters. I can’t wait to share some new song sparks and see where we can take it together.
Is Thirstbusters your hobby or your job? Why?
Chase: This band is truly much more than a hobby. Both individually and collectively, we put a tremendous amount of time and effort into making our music the best that it can be. Being spread across the country for the majority of the year (sometimes even across the globe!), our time together is incredibly precious. When we’re all home during summer and short windows of winter break, we treat the band like a business. We see the creative work that we accomplish as a team as directly influential to our careers as professional musicians. This has taken some explaining to family and friends, especially given our habit of early morning rehearsals and late night songwriting sessions; however, we are well aware that hard work pays off, and that making music is truly a labor of love.
What inspiration do you draw from when creating and performing? Who or what inspires you?
Forrest: I think all of the members of Thirstbusters have an edge on many others. I have inspirations from all sorts of music. My personal playing is greatly influenced by Dave Weckl, Billy Cobham, Carter Beauford, Lenny White, Dennis Chambers, Tony Royster Jr., Brian Blade, and Eric Harland.
My vision of what our music should sound like stems from Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Prince, Maroon 5 (although less so now if they continue on this “Moves Like Jagger” train). I like real musicianship and talent to show through. I’m so tired of all the modern canned artists that major labels continue to shove down our throats. I want to see real talent and creativity take control of the music scene again!
Girlfriends? Groupies? Let's get a little personal.
Chase: We’re all taken at the moment, sorry, ladies! We do have some die-hard fans in the bay area though. Also we seem to get a lot of Facebook friend requests from people worldwide whom never met.
What is it like to move an audience with music?
Chase: Being on stage and knowing that you have the ability to influence the mood and emotions of an audience is not only a powerful feeling, but a very exhilarating one too. In performing each song, I feel that I take on a different character to embody the sentiment of the music. When you combine the feeling of the lyrics and groove with the energy and enthusiasm of an audience, the atmosphere is magical.
Ryan: I love the audience connection. It’s therapeutic for everyone involved. When writing songs it really gets out emotions that cannot be expressed in other ways. I want people to relate to our music. I want people to come up to me and say, “Your song changed my life.” That makes it all worth it. The connection between artist and audience cannot really be described. It’s just too magical.
These four guys are absolutely that — magical. Thirstbusters perches on the clear edge of opportunity and it's obvious they have all trained, studied, and prepared enough to justify success. What makes a band rise from college kids to rock stars? I'm not certain, but I can't fight the feeling you'll be hearing and seeing a lot more of Thirstbusters.
Want to see them live? Their next show is in San Francisco on January 6 at the Brick and Mortar Music Hall, 1710 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA.