Person or Persons Unknown: Six Questions with Solarburn Bassist Tony Thomas

Person or Persons Unknown

 

Six Questions with Solarburn Bassist Tony Thomas

by Asya Yanyo

 

    
The first step is admitting it, right? So here goes… “Hello, my name is Asya, and I am addicted to Solarburn.”  I have seen them numerous times, and will again soon; I had their CD in the CD changer in my car for a record 12 weeks straight, and for a long time it was the band that I would talk about every chance I got. It’s not as if I wish to be cured of my addiction or anything; in fact I’ve decided to just own it, and I am perfectly willing to help others get addicted too.

This pretty much is THE band for me, the band that opened up a whole new level of musical enjoyment in my life, and the band that I shamelessly promote every chance I get, quite like I am doing right now. Yes, if you haven’t seen them yet, you’re honestly missing (in my humble opinion) one of the BEST things about Pittsburgh! But you can fix that April 2nd when they open for Otep at the Altar Bar.

They are three of the nicest and most genuinely no-BS guys I have ever met in my life, and these dudes can shred like nobody’s business. So how did I just pick one of them for Person or Persons Unknown? As hard as it was (and honestly it WAS hard, because I am lucky enough to actually be friends with [guitarist] Mike [Stains], [drummer] Russ [Tompkins], and [bassist] Tony [Thomas]), I ended up choosing the person I connected with immediately in the beginning, at the first show at I ever saw Solarburn play — way back in August of last year. Immediately, I felt that Tony was more than just an awesome bass player, but that he also a had deep knowledge of music, which I respected and connected with. As you’ll see from this interview, that is definitely the case.

 
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Solarburn – 13

solarburn-13

 

Solarburn13 (self-released, 14 September 2012)

 
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you — in my opinion — the #1 CD from all of 2012. Not only one of the best bands I’ve ever heard in Pittsburgh, but one of the best bands I’ve ever heard. And I stumbled into being a huge fan of theirs, almost by accident. Or some might call it fate.

See, these guys had included one of their songs (“C-Section”) on the Innervenus Music Collective‘s free Pittsburgh metal sampler, Iron Atrocity V.2 — a collection which I heard and wrote about when it was released last summer.

At the time, I was impressed by the Solarburn track, given that I’ve always been fond of instrumental metal music anyway, and (as I said in that article about the compilation), this song sounded “way heavier, more ballsy, and well, just plain more interesting than a bunch of the aimless noodly shit that’s out there.”

I also recall somebody involved with Innervenus talking about this particular song when the compilation was made public — I can’t find the exact quote, now, so I will paraphrase — playing the song for another person, that other person reportedly said something about how the song was absolutely perfect, and he kept hoping that nobody would start singing and fuck things up.

I was also intrigued to learn that the band had been working on a full-length album (which was to be unveiled at a show in mid-September), and thought that I might want to check that out — the new CD at least, even if I ended up not being able to make it to that show.

Anyway, within the next few weeks I heard about what was called the R.A.N.T. (Rock All Night Tour) in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. I wrote an announcement that this all-day free music festival was happening, and what really caught my eye was the fact that the renowned local pirate rock band, The Bloody Seamen, were playing a show that evening. I’d been wanting to get a chance to check them out ever since I’d seen a few of their videos, so that’s just what the wife and I had planned on doing.

Well once we got to the Thunderbird Cafe, where the “punk” show was taking place, it was already extremely crowded for such a small area — and people just kept coming and coming, to the point where we felt pretty claustrophobic, and couldn’t find anywhere to stand where we weren’t constantly getting stepped on. Frankly, it was kind of miserable, so we were talking about just heading back home — when I pulled up the Valley of Steel post about R.A.N.T. on my phone. I saw that the “metal” show was taking place at a bar called Cattivo, just a few blocks away, and it had a slightly later start time — so we decided to see what that was like, before just giving up on the evening.

It happened to be much more spacious there, and there weren’t nearly as many people (at least at first). So we grabbed a couple drinks, found an empty table, and waited for opening act Solarburn to take the stage.

 
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