Intriguing, stellar, heavy and dreamy. The 2018 “Terra Solus” album by Sergeant Thunderhoof is among the finest things to listen to this year. This sonic journey just yearns to be discovered! I had the chance to talk to the man behind the mic – Dan Flitcroft, about everything around the band so far and what’s ahead. Welcome to the magic world of Sergeant Thunderhoof heavy rock psychedelia!
– For me it’s a great pleasure to welcome you, Dan, to Blessed Altar Zine, the zine supporting the Underground! Thank you for accepting my invitation for this interview!
– You’re very welcome.
– Let’s start with the band. Tell us more about Sergeant Thunderhoof and yourself.
– We started in late 2013. We’ve all played in bands together over the years and the main purpose was just to get in a room, make some noise and see what happened. I used to play with Jim (bass) and Daz (drums) many years ago in a math metal band called Indica. I’ve known Mark (guitar) for about 10 years now and we’ve played together in bar bands.
– What was your main goal when creating the band?
– I don’t think there ever was a goal. This is the first band I’ve been in personally where we really didn’t care what happened. It’s just nice sometimes to get together with mates and jam. The fact that it has taken off somewhat is a lovely bonus.
– OK, 5 years later, did this “goal”, direction, change over time?
– Well there is certainly a direction or goal within the band now. We’re three albums down and we’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible. We’re probably more creatively pumped now than we’ve ever been,
– Who is Sergeant Thunderhoof; I mean from where does come the name from?
– We chatted for a while about different band names and I liked the idea of having a name that we could use as a character or theme. I’ve long been a fan of the likes of Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden and other bands that use a creative concept to anchor the band sound and identity. None of us are particularly comfortable in front of a camera so this gives us a license to be theatrical without having to look very handsome. Now that we’ve established the name, it has come to represent a story arc within our music. There is a coherent narrative through our three albums if anyone cares to read the lyrics! Haha.
– What was different between your debut EP “Zigurat” and your first full-length “Ride of the Hoof”?
– ‘Zigurat’ was just us having our first experience of recording the band. We had a bunch of songs and wanted to see how they turned out. When it came time to do ‘Ride of the Hoof’ we already had a captive audience so we wanted to really get to grips with the concept and flesh out something meaningful.
– We should mention here “Live on Earth” released in 2016, honestly for me a surprise when I was digging back your discography. I mean in terms of release immediately after your first full-length. How did you decide to go for this live?
– The live album came about by accident. We were running a crowdfunding campaign to get one of our albums pressed to vinyl and we thought this would be a nice little reward for anyone generous enough to back us. It turned out pretty well.
– And what’s different now with your new impressive album “Terra Solus” compared to the rest?
– We sat on these ideas and songs for a long time, making sure we really trimmed the fat and honed what it is we wanted to say. I think Mark really shines on this record. It’s our most accomplished work to date in my opinion and I’m really proud of everyone’s contributions.
– Actually, “Terra Solus” is among the finest albums in 2018 so far. And in my opinion it is different than anything else released by you so far, in the good way. It’s not riffs or haze. There is a range of styles and flavours mixed gorgeously in it; impressive sound and musicianship. Tell us more about all this diversity and the album in general – did you take another plane?
– We’ve always tended to get lumped in with the stoner rock and doom scene. That’s absolutely fine with us as we all have an interest in that music, but I’d say we have more in common with the classic and hard rock bands of the seventies. There are no rules or restrictions for us and we purposely don’t throw in riffs or ideas just to be seen to be ticking all the boxes. It’s all about the songs and the album as a whole for me.
– It seems for me that you have many influences and inspirations. Can you name a few for us?
– Gosh where do I start? I’ll throw some names out to make it easier…. Devin Townsend, Sleep, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Budgie, Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Fu Manchu, Orange Goblin, Iron Maiden, Michael Jackson, Cat Stevens, Metallica, Mew, Faith No More. I’ve missed so many out.
– OK, and can we put a definition on your music? Or this doesn’t make sense; better everybody to discover it for herself/himself?…
– I think psychedelic tinged heavy rock is quite accurate.
– Your artworks are also impressive and also to be discovered by the listener’s imagination…
– That’s my good lady Sara-Jane Swettenham. She’s a great talent. I’ve always thought that good album artwork is absolutely crucial.
– You remain “defiantly unsigned”. You handle everything by yourself – your merchandise, bookings, manufacturing, design and fulfilment in-house. All your music is available for free/name your prices on your Bandcamp page. It is not common occasion for today’s scene and world we are living. Full respect for all this you are doing, but I must ask you why you decided to go this way?
– There’s only so many bad deals that are put in front of you before you think to yourself “Are they doing anything I couldn’t do myself?”. That’s not to say that this works for everyone, but it works for us. We still work with labels on other projects but for Sergeant Thunderhoof it’s better that we control it. We don’t want a label forcing us to tour or dictating how our material is presented.
– But what about all this perusing of deals with labels and longing for success?
– Not interested! We honestly couldn’t care less about that side of things. I suppose it depends on what you think success is? For us, if we get a couple of people digging our stuff then we’ve achieved what we set out to.
– What are your plans now, when you have great new album, and solid amount of older material? Touring I guess?
– We don’t really know what’s going to happen next. There are talks of a number of festival dates in 2019 and a possible tour. We have some personal stuff that’s going on within the band and our family members which has made things a little difficult. We’ve always been the kind of band that lives on a knife-edge so it could all end tomorrow. Then again, another album could be cool.
– There is a lot of movement and some really fantastic records coming out over the last couple of years on the heavy scene. Is there any band in particular you want to praise and tour with?
– We’ve played with Elder a couple of times and they’re just such an interesting band. They have a way of progressing songs like very few others and I totally respect how they go about their business. There’s far too many bands we’d like to play with. As long as they’re nice people and haven’t got their heads stuck up their arse we’re interested.
– Shall we expect soon another album by Sergeant Thunderhoof?
– No. We’re very slow!
– Is there anything else you would like to add or share with our readers?
– I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has given our latest record a chance. It’s been lovely to see so many nice comments and reviews and we don’t take any of that for granted.
– Once again, thank you very much for your time for this interview! Greetings from all Blessed Altar Zine. We keep a close eye on you guys!
– Thanks man, all the best.
Interview by Count Vlad