Exclusive Interview – Thadeus Gonzalez

Thadeus Gonzalez

Thadeus Gonzalez is a Bay Area musician who plays a range of venues from dive bars to arenas. This Oakland rocker, known for his big raw energy, launched his solo career in 2014 after making a splash with Electric Sister. Newly signed to Ripple Music imprint, Rebel Waves Records, he’s got a string of singles and videos coming out leading up to an album release in the summer of 2021. I caught up with Thadeus to talk about his new music and how he’s bridging the concert gap during the pandemic.

Mojo: Hey Thadeus! I just heard your new single Still in Your Mind, it sounds great! What can you tell me about the meaning behind it and also about the recording process?

TG: Thanks for the interview and putting your ears on my new non-album track, “Still In Your Mind.”

Like some of my songs, this one is lyrically ambiguous. Many of the phrases held some significance to me when I was strumming early versions of it on my acoustic guitar. The line, ‘so we fought out in the fog cause we knew what was the cause’, gave me the thought of standing up for what you believe in even when you don’t see what you are up against. There are a lot of phrases like that in this song, and all the words seemed very dreamy to me.

The recording of this song was easy. Instead of power chords for the chorus my producer, Tim Narducci, came up with some great alternative chords. I like the way it came out. The outro melody was spot on and I think it gave the song a great lift.

I was going to ask, I did see that you’ve been working with producer Tim Narducci of the Watchers. What was it like working with Tim?

He is a fantastic musician and a great dude. I called him out of the blue, not really knowing him, and said, I want to record a double album. He was like, ok. Haha. Nothing better than a buoyant producer. I needed Tim to play a lot of guitar on my music. All of my songs started out on an acoustic guitar, so we had to build on those ideas. It’s very different from a band situation. We had some tough pitfalls throughout the process though. We started recording in the fall of 2019, then I went out on tour in December. When we started working again in early 2020, COVID hit. After a few months we started working again, then his brother Greg passed. With all of these sad things going all, Tim championed this project and really shined. He made these tunes of mine fantastic. We still have about 10-12 more songs to finish up, so we will be recording again this summer.

Another new single is coming, and I understand it’s from your upcoming album. Tell me a bit about the album and the theme behind it.

“The Death Of A Good Hustle” is the first single off of my new album, “Opposite Faces.” It came together exactly the way I heard it in my head when I wrote the song. It is about the end of behaviors that were causing way more pain to other people than the pleasure I gained, getting rid of old ideas and thoughts. That single and video comes out on April 2nd through Rebel Waves Records.

“Opposite Faces” comes out on July 16th, and it is a deliberate departure from my last album “Silver Inside.” I really wanted to slow down and create more of a mood in these songs. I was listening to Roger Waters’ newest album “Is This The Life We Really Want?”, and PJ Harvey’s “Uh Huh Her.” I can’t completely get away from hard rock in my songwriting, but these albums made me want to chase a different rabbit. “Opposite Faces” is really about perspectives and I tried to write from every side of the relationships I had going on at the time.

I hear you’ve just signed to Rebel Wave Records, what does that mean for you going forward?

Man, I’m happy to be involved with Rebel Waves Records. Ripple Music and Rebel Waves Records are a very hip label for hard rock/doom/stoner artists. They are giving me a higher platform to put my music out on, it’s awesome, and I’m very grateful. I hope it means more exposure down the road.

You have one of the most dynamic stage presences and I know you love playing out. How has it been for you during the pandemic with most live music at a standstill?

Thanks, I appreciate that. Playing live is fantastic.

I was in LA rehearsing for SXSW 2020 with my band when COVID hit. That tour was canceled, and it was a huge shock for me. I was also deep into recording my new album before I left for that tour. After a few months went by, and once things opened up the first time, I started trying to finish all the music I had been working on. Fortunately, I still get a kick out of playing acoustic guitar in my living room, by myself, for ‘Thursdays With Thadeus’ on Facebook Live. I can’t remember the last live show I saw. That’s crazy.

How have your weekly Facebook “Thursdays with Thadeus” acoustic concerts been?

‘Thursdays with Thadeus’ was a big pivot for me. I talked with a friend I work with about options around not touring and this was the most logical opportunity. I like playing guitar, but it gets in my way onstage. I always have a real guitar player on the road with me or at hometown gigs. With ‘Thursdays with Thadeus’, nothing is perfect; my playing or singing. I have a week to learn 5 cover tunes and since I started this show, I’ve learned more chords than when I started playing guitar. Songs like ‘The Stray Cat Strut’ are challenging but super fun to figure out. Covering songs by Christopher Cross, Thrice or doing Depeche Mode nights has been pretty rad for me. So many artists and so many songs, it’s been amazing. Every week I put together a 40-45 minute setlist that is exciting for me to play which include 5 cover tunes and 4 of my originals.

What do you think about the state of live music and all the venues that have closed over the last year?

I think it will be a year or more before things really start to get straight but live music will come back soon enough. It’s sad to hear about so many clubs closing their doors, there is a lot of history in some of those clubs. I think that new venues will spring up and there will be a need for live music once things calm down.

What’s your take on the Bay Area music scene, and how do you feel you fit into it?

The Bay Area is a thriving place for music, it always has been. I’ve been around long enough to feel a small part of the Bay Area’s appeal. It’s quiet these days, but I think that soon enough shows will start up, new venues will open their doors, and new bands, musicians, and artists will enjoy the spotlight again.

What do you look forward to most as things start to open back up?

I’m looking forward to seeing a massive, huge stadium show with lights, pyro, the whole deal; and a super small intimate rock show. The whole spectrum of live music! I’m also looking forward to my first itinerary book for the Opposite Faces tour!

Me too! Thanks so much for your time, Thadeus!

New single and video out everywhere April 2, “The Death of a Good Hustle”

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Mojo’s Pick of the Week – Old Gods by Valley of the Sun

Valley of the Sun - Old Gods is a killer stoner rock albumI feel like I hastily passed this over at one time on Bandcamp, only to have it start showing up repeatedly in my Spotify mix playlists until I had heard enough to realize what a stoner rock gem this album is. If I’d heard it sooner it would have easily made my favorite albums of 2019 list!

Cincinnati’s Valley of the Sun shows off a range of styles beyond the typical fuzz rock outing on Old Gods, their third full length album. At times sounding like QUOTSA, and at others like a Tool-influenced King Buffalo, this album ranges from heavy fuzz rock to light, wistful instrumentals that could have been outtakes from Alice in Chains’ Jar of Flies.

If you’re a fan of Lowrider, King Buffalo, ASG and the like, you should stop what you’re doing right now and check out Old Gods.

Standout Tracks: Old Gods, Dim Vision, Gaia Creates

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Mojo’s Pick of the Week – Dead Star by King Buffalo

King Buffalo Dead StarEthereal, hypnotic, unhurried, and quietly epic, the latest album from King Buffalo draws you in with such unassuming ease that you don’t realize you’re caught in its snare until your head is bouncing and your hair standing on end (around minute 12, to be precise).

Released March 2020, Dead Star is an evolution from King Buffalo’s 2018 masterpiece Longing to Be the Mountain, while sharing some common threads with that popular favorite. New side trips into ambient and even 80s-influenced electronic music don’t dull the understated power contained in the psychedelic drone underpinning the compelling groove of this excellent album.

Fans of Pink Floyd, All them Witches, and Elder should check out the latest from this Rochester, New York power trio who just gets better with every new release.

Standout tracks: Ecliptic, Red Star Pt. 2, Eta Carinae

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