Big Wreck mastermind opens on album, music biz ahead of Penticton date

Nominated for best Rock album at Juno Awards, Big Wreck will open for Motley Crue at the South Okanagan Events Centre April 20 in Penticton.

Big wreck

Big wreck

There is a saying about the relationship of best friends and it very much suits the masterminds behind Big Wreck.

“Yeah,” agrees lead singer Ian Thornley. “You pick up right where you left off.”

That is the relationship of Thornley and Brian Doherty. After a long absence, the band has taken themselves off the shelf and rekindled their relationship. The pair, who came up with the idea for the band while in college, have returned after 10 years releasing the familiar sound of Big Wreck in the record Albatross and will open for Motley Crue on their Canadian tour which kicks off at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Saturday.

The split of Big Wreck left Thornley moving on with solo projects and helping friends out playing in the studio. Thornley even auditioned for a frontman position with Velvet Revolver, flying in to jam with guitar legend Slash. While he was digging their tunes, they were looking for a frontman and Thornley wasn’t ready to give up the “shield” of his guitar in his hands. Doherty was always in the back of his mind.

“We spent so much time together, there is a deep relationship there. I felt like I was moving on but, why can’t I keep my buddy,” said Thornley in a phone interview in between shows in Buffalo.

It was when Thornley found himself without a guitarist for an Edmonton gig that it was suggested he ask his long-time friend to sit in.

“I do remember thinking how weird it was, that how unweird it was,” laughed Thornley. “We were about two songs in and I remember looking over and was like oh man this should be weird, but it was really like no time had passed. It was a really natural thing having him on stage with me.”

Looking to bring back all the good things rock and roll records are missing today, they went to the studio together with a binder full of music that had been waiting to be recorded at the right time. Thornley found a love of the textures in clean guitars against dry drums to create a sound that he feels is rare in today’s music. There was no label pressuring them to make a formulaic No. 1 hit or executives sticking their nose into their creative process.

“That is much more enjoyable for me. We got to do what we wanted to do. No doubt, no second-guessing if people are going to like it. If we were getting off on it, then it was in and that is a great way to work. Our main concern was making sure this is what we want on the record,” said Thornley.

The Big Wreck singer/songwriter/guitarist said although it is what pays his bills, the music business can be “rotten.” Thornley said there is a successful man sitting behind a desk just looking to make money and only every once and awhile something actually breaks through that is authentic, real and beautiful.

It could be part of the reason why Big Wreck chose to record Albatross (nominated for  a 2013 Juno) over just a four-week period with only trusted producers giving their opinions to create a vibe that Thornley wanted to capture.

“I’m just lucky that I can make music that I like and I am able to carve out a living, barely, but carve out a living making music I love. I think a lot of people are in it because they want to be famous. To me music has always been something much more important than that. It has never been about fame, money or any of that shit for me,” said Thornley. “Those are dreams of a teenager and I think that is what a lot of this business is based on. I’m just trying to make an honest piece of music that maybe people will get off on. As lame as that sounds it is the truth.”

It would seem that negative side of the music business could consume a person, driving them to quit.

“I always say I’m done, I can’t do this anymore. This is so backwards, upside down, and impossibly wrong. Then, of course, there is a guitar sitting there and something pops out of it and the initial spark that I had … that beauty is there and it is something I can’t really get away from,” said Thornley.

– Check Friday’s edition of the Penticton Western News, or online, for an interview with Mick Mars from Motley Crue.