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Listen to Thunderbolt City’s New Tape of Hooky Power Pop

They may be from Canberra but Thunderbolt City sound like they hail from Power Pop USA.

Carey Paterson used to live in Canberra and play in TV Colours and the Fighting League. He now lives in New York City and doesn’t play in Thunderbolt City.

Well, he does, but with Thunderbolt City’s other members, bassist Chris Hearn and drummer Peter Krbavac, still in Australia, organising gigs can be tough.

They do have a new demo tape out that you can stream below.

Recorded in Canberra over a weekend in February, and released on local label Dream Damage, the demo’s 4-tracks have Paterson continuing his knack of writing big and bold pop songs. Songs that owe more than a passing nod to the American power pop of Cheap Trick, The Replacements and Big Star.

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Take a listen to the tracks and read a short interview with Carey.

Noisey: “Flashback” has a total 84-86 college rock feel. What was the inspiration behind it?
Carey Paterson: It was the one of the first two songs Peter and I screwed around with. It originally had this weird Krautrock beat but we realised we could open it up into a pop song. I think it sounds kind of Stone Roses-ey now, especially after our bass player Chris came up with his chorus hook which really made the song.

It’s about that bizarre situation when you suddenly remember something really embarrassing that happened to you. Like when you were an absolute shit when pissed or some humiliation from your childhood that has no bearing whatsoever on your adult life but still eats at you randomly. It'll happen when I'm deep in thought in the shower or on the toilet or something and it just hits like a freight train ha.

How is New York treating you?
We've got it pretty good. There are no shortage of gigs and stuff to do. There’s no Aussie like "nanny state”. You can buy beer at 24-hour delis anytime, ride your bike through red lights with no helmet and buy cheap under-the-counter ciggies from out of state.

The worst is the smell of hot garbage and sewers which just cook in the summer. There are some truly awful people here as well. The other day I saw this Wall Street type moving stuff out of a fancy 4WD and a cab beeped him for blocking the road. So the guy screamed "FUCK YOU, YOU FINANCIAL PEE WEE GO CHASE YOUR MONEY!!"

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The songs seem inspired by US power pop of the 80s. The hooks, production, and warm fuzz seemed all so much bigger then. What are some of your favourite releases of that era?
I can't deny that I absolutely smashed The Replacements for years and Let it Be and Tim will always be two albums that I love. But I prefer late 70s power pop albums like In Colour by Cheap Trick, Shake Some Action by Flamin' Groovies and everything by The Nerves/Breakaways.

I think a lot of the 80s stuff that influenced our music isn't really power-pop but its still really hooky. Dio-era Sabbath, Rikk Agnew bands/solo stuff and Wipers especially. We cover "Over The Edge'" a lot and "Gone to Seed" the last song on the tape was our best attempt at coming up with a Rikk Agnew/Wipers-style dynamic guitar song. I think Greg Sage and Rikk Agnew both have really good pop sensibilities and managed to thrive in the west coast punk scenes because their songs were still really simple and ferocious.

Where is the power station from the photo taken? It reminds me of the Royal Headache album cover.
Chris took the photo in Weston Creek at Oakey Hill. Peter originally came up with the idea of using a pylon and Canberra is absolutely littered with them so it was a no brainer. There's something really incredible about seeing a row of them in a clearing pumping power into the suburbs and it seemed to really suit the band name. I love the water tower shot from that Royal Headache album and stuff like that is always good fodder for cover art. Brutalist structures and rock and roll go hand in hand I guess.

Thunderbolt City's demo will be available on cassette and digitally Aug 4 through Dream Damage.