Yes, we realize their records are good. Very good, in fact. Extremely good. But we don't care. At least not really. At least not right now. Why? Because Thunderbirds Are Now! is one those bands that you definitely, indisputably, without-a-doubt HAVE to see live.
Frontman Ryan Allen sings like he has a cold, and his nervy bursts of semi-distorted guitar are just as feverish. Matt Rickle's glasses are strapped to his head as if they're holding on for dear life, clutching their shiny selves to his skull as he pounds out fill after fill. Bassist Howard Chang lets loose, throwing his lanky body around the Studio B stage in one of his last gigs with the band. And then there's Scott Allen, whose keyboard pounding and vocal harmonizing are all but upstaged by the man's sheer hyperactivity. He headbangs, dances, does the David Lee Roth toe-touch thing from the "Jump" video, and – perhaps best of all – plays a synth solo with two immense, bright-orange traffic cones on his arms.
Yes, yes, you say, But what does that have to do with rock 'n' roll? Well, it has everything to do with rock 'n' roll, at least in this case. When your band name is this immediate; when you cap it off with an exclamation point; when your cocksure album is titled "Make History;" when you've just been upgraded to French Kiss Records; well… that's when you start performing the hell out of each and every show. Thank God for Thunderbirds Are Now!, their frenzied music, and the case of Red Bull they undoubtedly downed before this performance.
- Andrew Leahey
The four Detroit natives in Thunderbirds are Now! maintain a healthy aural diet. "We live off of pop music," explains singer/guitarist Ryan Allen. "Some Beatles for breakfast, a little Smiths for lunch, and the Pixies for dinner. Sometimes we'll have a little New Pornographers for a midnight snack."
Thunderbirds are Now! began making spazzy noise-rock as a five-piece in the Detroit suburbs before trimming down to drummer Mike Durgan (since replaced by Matt Rickle), bassist Marty Smith (since replaced by Julian Wettlin), keyboardist Scott Allen, and singer/guitarist Ryan Allen. While signed to the Action Driver Label, the band released two EPs and one full-length record, 2003's Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief. Justamustache was released in 2005 on Frenchkiss Records, and Make History followed in 2006.