25 Years of Rock ‘N’ Roll ... and Counting!
By Heike Hellmann-Brown
Music has been an integral part of The Thrillhammers’ lives for as long as they can remember. “All four of us were raised within a few miles of each other, in families full of musicians where sing-alongs were a tradition,” says Shannon Bobo, guitarist and bass player of the band. The friendships of the four members of The Thrillhammers date back as far as first grade, and, while they individually joined different bands along the way, the four of them got together for the first time in 1987 to jam — and continued ever since.
Musical genres have come and gone, but for more than 25 years The Thrillhammers have been right at home on any loud, smoky stage, ripping through a versatile collection of originals, torqued-out covers and the occasional satirical mocker. Their sound has been described as part Rolling Stones, part George Jones, with a nod to the late ‘60s and early ‘70s bands.
“We have a large catalogue; 40-50 originals, plus 250-300 cover songs,” explains Greg Brooks, drummer and singer of the band. Along with lead guitarist/singer Chris Chandler, Brooks is one of the band’s chief songwriters. Both share credits in their nomination as finalists in the “Rock Song of the Year” competition by the Atlanta Songwriting Association. “Greg and Chris are very unique together in their songwriting,” adds Wayne Bagwell, rhythm guitarist. “Altogether, the creation of a new song is a fun process where we all draw upon each other’s ideas from the first guitar rift to the final product.”
Their latest release is “Highway 369.” “This album is a very cohesive collection of original songs, with the common thread being our immediate area, our history, our story, the people and legends, the Native American history,” says Chandler. Blending Memphis soul, Muscle Shoals legacy and Appalachian attitude, the album tells vivid stories of love, happiness and hardship.
While all band members have day jobs, they meet once a week to rehearse and then play select venues on the weekends. Their radius spans the entire South, with a focus on the metro Atlanta area. “Although we never pursued a professional career in the music industry, we are professionals — we get paid,” Bobo jokes. “We are not in it to get famous or rich; we just want to play good music. Being independent and doing things our way is an added bonus,” says Brooks. “Lots of bands can’t stand each other. But we play with our friends. It all started many years ago because it was fun, and that’s still the reason we do it.”
Bagwell adds that a gig of The Thrillhammers is not just your average concert. “We gather as many people as possible and make an event out of it.” Their next appearance will be April 12 at the Velvet Underground at Hard Rock Cafe Atlanta. Visit the website for a complete listing of The Thrillhammers’ upcoming shows.