Make History, Detroit band Thunderbirds are Now!'s 3rd full-length and second on Frenchkiss Records, does away with a band in full tail-chase and depicts one at it's peak: no longer stressing about what people might expect, but rather wearing their influences better than one of Interpol's tailored suits. "We live off of pop music," says 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." Further, "making an album full of melodies, actual choruses, songs in major keys it's something I think we all grew up with, so it was inevitable that we'd make a record like this. It's our chance to do right by our influences and by ourselves."
To document Make History the band convened in New York and Philadelphia with longtime friend John Schmersal, famous for his signature guitar skronk as a member of Brainiac and for his skewed-pop sensibilities with his current band Enon. Schmersal's ear for melody as well as unconventional sounds and structures helped TAN! find a perfect marriage between the straight-ahead and the peculiar. It's a coupling that can be heard all over Make History. Take the opener, "Panthers in Crime," which starts off with an acoustic introduction and crashes to an end with keyboardist Scott Allen manning a Hammond organ and drummer Matt Rickle bashing his kit. Or examine "The Veil Comes Down," a four-on-the-floor rocker that features bassist Howard Chang's steady rhythms and some of the most eccentric keyboard noises the band has ever cooked up. The eleven-song album culminates with live staple "(The Making of.) Make History" and its chorus of pop-centric "ba ba da ba's" singing the album to its triumphant close. It's all done with the utmost intent of separating themselves from the dance-rock and the post-post-punk pigeonholing that has plagued some of their contemporaries, making their own history along the way.
For those unfamiliar with the band's ever-changing evolution, let's get you up to speed: The band started off as a five-piece in the suburbs of Detroit, eventually trimming down to drummer Mike Durgan, bassist Marty Smith, keyboardist Scott Allen, and singer/guitarist Ryan Allen. The band released two EPs and one full-length record (2003's rambunctious Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief on the Action Driver label), before signing to Frenchkiss Records to release their 2005 breakthrough Justamustache. The record garnered praise across the board from tastemakers like Pitchforkmedia.com and others.
After Smith left the group to become a married man the band drafted bassist Howard Chang and hit the road with fervor, touring with the likes of Enon, Minus the Bear, The Hold Steady, The Constantines, These Arms are Snakes, Supersystem, and Rahim. Summer 2005 saw the band make their first appearance on the American summer festival circuit playing the Pitchforkmedia-curated Intonation Music Festival. To cap off their year the band visited the UK for the first time. In early 2006, Durgan left the band, so new drummer Matt Rickle (of Detroit faves Javelins) stepped in to the fray, joining the band for their first-ever Australian tour alongside Les Savy Fav and the Hold Steady. In late 2006, Chang exited the band and has since been replaced by Julian Wettlin (also of Javelins). 2007 promises more touring in support of Make History, with tours being planned in the US, Europe and beyond.
This is what people are saying about "Make History":
“Perfect for anyone who believes complex song structures are best served by punk attitude and pop amenities.”
- #40 on Rolling Stone’s Top 50 Album’s of the Year
“Rife with punchy keys, a driving rhythm section, and pop hooks.”
“I’ll take Thunderbirds are Now!, for the simple reason that they’ve got the goods as a pop band.”
- NPR’s “All Things Considered”
“A brother team over a rhythm section that's growing muscles, and though Scott Allen's keyboards provide the abundant hooks, Ryan Allen defines the sound. His voice high and desperate, his guitar jagged, Ryan has trust issues, but they're social -- there's not a single relationship song on what is formally a high-anxiety pop record.”
“On Make History, TAN! still boast nifty hooks and ideas. ‘The Veil Comes Down’ msounds like Foo Fighters in a perfect world, not to mention a chorus that smacks of Nirvana's angular power-chord pop. ‘Shake Them Awake’ is wound as tight as any previous material, hot enough to burn out under the two-and-a-half minute mark.”
- 7.4, Pitchforkmedia.com
“While still bratty, the TAN! kids are definitely starting to mature, making history in their own rambunctious way.”
- 85%, Filter Magazine
“Make Hisotry is nonetheless a refreshing treat in how the tracks are sequenced clearly, showing that the “album feel” in pop music isn’t extinct just quite yet.”
- Four stars, URB Magazine
“Thunderbird’s are Now!’s third album is a shape-shifting piece of socially conscious pop rock that succeeds both on musical and intellectual levels.”
- 7 out of 10, Under the Radar
“By taking existing ideas and enhancing them, this Detroit powerhouse has bestowed their most awesome album to date.”
- Amplifier Magazine
“This is certainly Thunderbirds Are Now!`s most ambitious album.”
- All Music Guide
“When it’s good, it grabs your attention like no other…. it still brims with hope for the future. Think more great moments than mere footnotes.”
- Exlaim! Magazine
“Make History is an accomplished album from a regularly underrated band.”
7 out of 10 - Drowned in Sound
“A consistent adherence to the conventions of pop music turns out to work well for this band when applied to their upbeat post-punk aesthetic.”
“If these guys seem like they're trying to get your attention, they are! But take it from me, they deserve it, too!”
- Four stars, Chord Magazine
“Thunderbirds are Now! have an amazing knack of getting everything to come together just at the right time to keep the listener entertained.”
- 3 out of 5, Decoymusic.com
“Like the originators of post-punk, Thunderbirds Are Now! doesn’t throw style and melody out the window.”
“Rather than merely shaking us until our knees buckle, as they did in the past, Thunderbirds Are Now! are crafting better songs.”
"'Make History' is one of the most arresting and blood-stirring albums I've heard in aeons."
"The freewheelin’ ragamuffins have matured; lo-fi fuzz rock has been replaced by an energized coherence. Their focus is almost scholarly, and damned infectious."
- 3 stars, Real Detroit Weekly
"Panthers in Crime" live @ Studio B in NYC, for Baeblemusic.com
Check out our video for "We Win (Ha Ha)" off of Make History
Check out our video for "From: Skulls" off Justamustache!
Check out our video for "Eat this City" off of Justamustache!