Over the last decade, Massive Wagons have emerged as the archetypal British Classic Hard Rock band. House Of Noise is their latest album, packing the sort of punch and attitude that’s rare these days (our review here). We’ve been lucky to get Adam Thistlethwaite, guitarist with Massive Wagons, to regale us with the tale of how he came to hear and fall for Thunder and why he looks up to them as a template for his own band.
One of the first gigs I went to was Deep Purple at the Manchester Arena in 2004 when I was 14, they were supported by Thunder and after the Thunder set I was left speechless. They came totally out of the blue for me, it was like someone had devised a band based purely on my tastes. They blended melody, power and groove in a way that no other band did, or in my opinion ever has. I was set off on a journey of discovery and I can honestly say that was the moment I knew I wanted to be in a band.
My Dad had a couple of albums and I immediately got them in my Walkman and for months solid they were all I listened to. I bought the rest of the catalogue, picked up the guitar every day and learned the tunes by ear. In doing so I also learned how you put songs together and what goes into creating dynamic music.
The first thing you notice is the voice; Danny Bowes is just the quintessential rock vocalist. The voice itself is amazing, but although he is capable of tearing your head off with it, he knows when to let rip and when to pull back, something too many great voices don’t know how to do in my opinion. Then when you delve into the back catalogue you notice just how little filler there is on any of their albums, it is nigh on solid gold. Luke Morely has to be one of the most consistent songwriters of the last 30 years, a man who whatever the project or album rarely pens a bad song.
You can hear the British influences of The Who and The Beatles, but also the American swagger of Aerosmith and Van Halen. I can anyway, particularly on the first few albums, but it all gets mixed together and comes out sounding like one band. It’s a powerful combination that rarely gets successfully combined. Though Luke’s songs with Danny’s voice, it’s hard to make that sound bad. Luke’s guitar playing is also very underrated, equal parts firey and tasteful.
Ben Matthews, a fantastic guitarist in his own right brings a perhaps lost art to the rock formula, the Hammond organ and piano. Ben’s ability here brings that dimension to the songs that you can’t get on other instruments, and having met the guy I can confirm he is hilarious. Harry and Chris are as solid an engine as a band can hope for, understated but 100% work for the song. I genuinely believe there hasn’t been a more complete rock band in the last 30 years.
As well as the music side of things I really liked the way they conducted themselves off stage, seeming very approachable and informal. They have a lot of time for their fans, and I discovered the value of that when I started releasing albums and touring myself, they are a great band to model that side of things on. I never met anyone with a bad word to say about them, it just further adds to the air of class that surrounds Thunder.
Back in high school I was starting to form bands and everyone was into nu-metal, as was I, but I kinda felt like I had a secret weapon to wield when it came to inspiration as Thunder, though very successful somehow hovered just under household name, and none of my mates were really aware of them. I drew from that well when writing my first songs and putting bands together, it really set what we did apart and that continued into what we do in Massive Wagons.
We were very fortunate to tour with Thunder in Germany in 2019 and the experience was very fulfilling for me, to support a band who genuinely was such a pivotal force in my personal journey was really satisfying. It kinda felt like all my life decisions thus far had been validated! As the tour progressed we got to know the guys and shared some drinks, got some advice and I no doubt made them feel very uncomfortable with my weird, intimate knowledge of their life’s work!
But as expected, they were just consummate professionals and we learned alot from just watching them do what they do.
They know how to have a laugh and have fun in a band, and also happen to write and perform incredible music. That to me sums up what this game is all about.
Our thanks to Adam for writing this for us and for subscribing to our philosophy of ‘always see the support band’.
Check our the title track from the new Massive Wagons record here: