Sexual Thunder! is a psychedelic funk band that formed in the Spring of 2011 after a few Tulane University musicians decided to get together and jam. Once they played as a group, the five dudes realized they had something special going and decided to start the band. A couple years and various developments later, Sexual Thunder! is finally releasing their first album. Entitled Cheek Sweat, their first album will debut October 25th at One Eyed Jacks with Stoop Kids and Abby Diamond also on the bill.
I had the opportunity to I sit down with band manager and guitarist George Wilde whose stage name is “Wilde Man aka Buck Wilde” and learn about about the Sexual Thunder! debut album. Here’s what’s what with the funky band with the funky name that has been able to take the leap from successful college band to successful New Orleans band since the last of it’s members graduated from Tulane in May.
The group originally began as an instrumental ensemble going by the name of Sexual Thunder because one member in the band wanted to tell girls he was in a band called Sexual Thunder. According to Wilde, the group still has debates over who is credited with the name. “We can’t remember exactly who came up with it or who agreed to it for that matter.”
The exclamation point was added to the band’s name after they played a show during Mardi Gras and each band member was decked out in costume. Wilde explains what it meant “to be in be in a band called Sexual Thunder and wearing a costume on stage and what it does to your performance. It just felt right. We decided we had to maintain that level of showmanship.” A year and a half after forming, the costumes (wacky hats, sunglasses, pants and shiny things) and the exclamation point were there to stay. These elements, as well a vocals which were also added later, helped to transform the band that “began very much as a college band, start[ing] out in a college band room, [their] first gig a frat party” into city-wide known and respected funk group.
Each band member has a stage name (or few) that contributes to the high energy persona that is Sexual Thunder! Wilde explains, “when you put on a show, you’re trying to engage everyone in the room. We can take the performance to a level that’s larger than life.” In addition to Wilde, the band consists of Dillon Frazier aka Dillon the Villain on drums, Robert Hinson aka Mobert on bass, Ari Kohn aka Jewlius Pleaser, the Semitic Stallion and, the Hebrew Hammer on saxophone and, Black Letters (always Black Letters) on keyboard.
Once all Sexual Thunder! members graduated from college, “everyone felt like there was something worth keeping,” Wilde says as he describes the natural way in which the band decided to stay in New Orleans and continue playing together. “This is meaningful. We can really take it far, whatever that ends up being.”
Considering they’ve played every almost every mid-size venue in New Orleans from Maple Leaf Bar, The Howlin’ Wolf, The Prytania Bar, The Blue Nile and more, Sexual Thunder! certainly has soemthing people want to hear. Their album Cheek Sweat will have five tracks with the single Cheek Sweat (The Best Cheek Yet) that was released last week. The band started writing songs for the album about a year and a half ago and spent over six months in the recording studio working with talented engineer Eric Heigle.
Sexual Thunder! funded the album through a Kickstarter campaign that raised a little over $3,000 through donations less than $50. The band is thankful for all the people that helped Sexual Thunder! “establish [themselves] sonically in the universe.” The album features poet FreeQuency on the track ‘Power to the People’ as well as the voices of various female friends on ‘To be or Not to Be a Bitch’. Wilde excitedly declares, “this is the first time people anywhere in the world can go hear a sound that is the Sexual Thunder! sound. That is a creative statement that has been a learning process for us.”
The Sexual Thunder! sound is “high energy psychedelic funk”or “future funk” as Wilde describes, inspired by the groove and aesthetic of classic funk like James Brown and Prince, blended with newer ideas informed by Neo Soul, RnB and Hip Hop. While Wilde may book the gigs, set up recording time and handle the Sexual Thunder! Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the writing process is collective. “We usually start with and jam with a phrase or rhythmic figure someone came up with. Maybe they wrote it before or maybe they thought of it spontaneously,” Wilde says. “We record all of our rehearsals. A lot of the songwriting process takes place in the rehearsals. The main meat of the project comes from collective improvisation.”
Attend the Sexual Thunder! Cheek Sweat album release party at One Eyed Jacks on October 25th!
*all photos by X-Istence Photography