Having its third album — “Make History” — named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the Top 50 of 2006 was a big deal for Detroit’s
Thunderbirds Are Now!
But the results haven’t exactly been earth-shattering according to Thunderbirds Are Now! frontman Ryan Allen.
“Well, my grandma has a copy of it, and my aunts and uncles finally think that what I do is legitimate, but that’s about it,” says Allen, who co-founded the band — whose members hail from Detroit’s western suburbs — in 2002.
But, Allen acknowledges, TAN! hasn’t really been on the road since the Rolling Stone poll was published in December to gauge how many people it may have turned on to the group. It certainly helped lead to a feature on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and Allen is noticing increased traffic on the group’s MySpace page, as well as “a lot of people I don’t know coming up and congratulating us around town, saying how cool they thought it was. That’s really validating.”
The praise is particularly welcome since there have been mixed reactions to “Make History,” which came out in October. It’s cut from the same frenetic, guitar-andkeyboards rock cloth as 2005’s widely hailed “Justamustache” — TAN!’s first release for the hip national Frenchkiss Records label — but it’s also more sophisticated and experimental, with more jagged song structures (think Gang of Four) driving its undeniably hooky melodies. In other words, it’s just different enough to polarize some fans.
Allen and company (keyboardist Scott Allen, bassist Julian Wettlin and drummer Matt Rickle) chalk some of that up to stereotypical, terminally hip indie rock poseurism — where, he says, the party line tends to be, “Oh, the first album is the best thing they’ve ever done,” or, “I was into them when nobody knew who they were.” But he doesn’t mind the pressure of the band having to prove itself anew each time out.
“I welcome it in a way; it keeps you on your toes and makes you, I think, a better musician,” Allen explains. “The reality is that even though we started the band with very few expectations or goals other than get together and make some noise, we still pretty much from day one have always experienced some form of backlash or negative reaction. It’s really nothing new for us.
“And once you know that’s the situation, we can go and do whatever we want. It’s pretty natural situation.”
Thunderbirds Are Now! and Oxford Collapse perform Monday (Jan. 29) at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $10. Call (313) 833-9700 or visit www. majesticdetroit.com.
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