“If you’re out there Todd McFarlane, thank you, thank you for your work, it’s inspired me throughout the years.” ~Thundercat
Our guest has been breaking ground in the music industry since he was a teenager. He had his first hit song at the age of 15, and just a year later before he could vote or get a legal drink, he became one of the original members of Suicidal Tendencies, playing bass in a band that came to define the ‘90s’ West Coast punk-rock sound.
That’s right, folks. Joining us today is none other than Stephen Bruner, also known as Thundercat.
During the middle of the last decade, Bruner linked up with Shafiq Husayn and Sa-Ra, and became a permanent fixture at the group’s Silver Lake studio that briefly served as the Los Alamos of the L.A. underground music scene. Everyone from Ty Dollasign to Erykah Badu passed through this sprawling nerve center. He joined Badu in her live band and New Amerykah studio sessions.
And then in 2011, Bruner joined forces with Flying Lotus, and his musical passion exploded. That year, he released his first solo project, The Golden Age of Apocalypse, which positioned him as an artist that could flip between improvised jazz, left-field electronica and smooth soul in the space of a single song. It was followed by Apocalypse in 2013, and then the more somber 16-minute-long EP The Beyond: Where the Giants Roam, which was rooted in his grief over the sudden death of his close friend, the piano prodigy Austin Peralta.
In 2015 he collaborated with Kendrick Lamar and took home a Grammy Award for the groundbreaking album To Pimp a Butterfly. Right now he’s on an international tour, playing songs from his new solo album Drunk, which features a single called “Show You the Way,” a song that brings together Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins for the first time in decades, proof that there’s endless reasons Bruner can compose and play with anyone, from Stanley Clarke to Snoop Dogg.
Stephen was kind enough to join us on the podcast between performances on the main stage at the Coachella festival; we’re grateful he took some time away from his beloved cat Turbo Tron Over 9000 Baby Jesus Sally to talk music, art, life and, of course, comics.
Featured Thundercat Songs in this Episode:
Fleer Ultra (The Golden Age of Apocalypse)
Walkin’ (The Golden Age of Apocalypse)
Them Changes (The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam)
Selected Links and People Mentioned from the Episode:
- Suicidal Tendencies
- Ty Dolla Sign
- Erykah Badu, New Amerykah Part Two
- Flying Lotus
- The Golden Age of Apocalypse (2011)
- Jazz, Electronica, Smooth Soul
- Apocalypse (2013)
- The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam (2015)
- Austin Peralta
- Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly
- Drunk (2017)
- Michael McDonald
- Kenny Loggins
- Stanley Clarke
- Snoop Dogg
- Turbo Tron over 9000 baby Jesus Sally
- Marvels The Age of Apocalypse
- Hero’s Journey
- The Punisher
- Yah, Thundercat was packing a ‘Jedi’ lightsaber at the Grammys
- Ronald Bruner Jr.
- Beast, The Origin of the Beast
- Giant Size X-MEN #1 and Mutants in Marvel Comics
- R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps
- Batman Court of Owls, Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo
- The Metabarons – Humanoids Inc
- Black guy in a samurai suit Rolling Stone
- Dragon Ball
- Fist of the North Star
- What a Fool Believes Michael McDonald and Thundercat, Pichfork
- “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” ~ Steve Martin
- Georgia Anne Muldrow
- Louis Cole
- Thundercat-drawn merch
- Carl Jones, The Boondocks
- The Thundercats