If you’ve turned on a radio in the last couple of months, you’d be well aware that Thundamentals are back in a big way! Even though we still need to wait until Feb for their album Everyone We Know to drop, we have been gifted a new video for their track ‘Think About It’ to keep us quiet in the meantime.
We were lucky enough to chat with Tuka about a bunch of cool shit, including the story behind ‘Think About It’, people tattooing his name on their arse, his brief conversation with a fan that broke out of a mental institution and was on the run and the important sentiment behind their song ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ (which you get instantly if you pre-order the album!).
Here’s what went down:
You’ve just released the video for your track ‘Think About It’ that features an actual couple Jess and Corey from LA doing very couple-y things, as well as some literal interpretations of some of the lyrics. How did that video come about?
I had an experience with a woman and she was a very powerful, brilliant woman; and when we met we were both in a place of loneliness I guess, and so we kind of spoke about that a lot as well as kind of falling for one another and I went to write a song about it. The clip itself is really interesting because Kris (Moyes) from LA, he’s an Aussie dude and he rang me up and wanted to know about the song. So I told him the story and that’s what we kind of came up with.
There’s a lyric in there that I particularly love, the one that goes,
“Just know, you're not alone; you're just by yourself.”
I guess there’s no question there (laughs), I just love that as a thought. It’s very comforting, especially if you’re away from family over Christmas like me.
So thanks for saving Christmas I guess!
(Laughs) thank you I don’t know like… You’re not alone; you’re just by yourself. I’m over here, you’re there, how you doing mate?
I guess we’re starting a conversation, as you would say.
That’s what we’re here for. Everything gets done through connectivity and I guess ‘the word’ of language.
You’ve been quoted (and it’s quite deep, but we’ve come to expect that from lyricists) as saying,
“As soon as you meet me, we become ‘us'," and, “It’s inherent to the human experience to seek contact and communication with other people. With that in mind, with everything we do as artists, we ask ourselves, ‘What am I contributing to the conversation?’”
Additionally, you mentioned that people have really been reacting to your music, even getting tattoos of lyrics. Do you get a lot of fans saying that this lyric or this song or album has helped them in some way?
Umm… Well at this point I don’t really pride myself on people tattooing their body. It’s their choice but you can’t help but be flattered by it I guess.
I’m just expressing myself and the bonus is they get something out of it. The story behind the tattoo is more interesting to me - when people actually connect/make a connection and send me their reasoning behind it. Because obviously we put a lot of thought into the meanings behind what we do, we put intention behind everything so it’s interesting to see what other people think we’re trying to say/communicate and you know, people have weird coincidences and all sorts of amazing stories around why they’re connecting to songs. And I guess the whole tattoo thing is like wearing it on your skin. It’s just like, “wow!” I can’t really get my head around it to tell you the truth. It’s going to be on your skin forever dude... or sister. It’s kind of heavy.
It’s pretty cool though, obviously that lyric affected them or helped them or something like that, so it must be quite… almost gratifying.
Yeah like I said it’s more the meaning that you put behind things. Like symbolism is a beautiful thing and you can read into it like, I like actually connecting with people and having a conversation about why they did it and that’s what I find gratifying. The meaning and intention behind the symbol.
Have you had any ‘Stans’? Like they’ve taken it a bit far and you’ve had to tell them to back off or something seemed a bit intense?
Yes. I don’t want to vilify her though. So I’m not sure if I can say the full thing because I wouldn’t want her to read it. A lot of people ask me to put my signature on their body and whenever they ask that, I go, “What’s the intention?” and they go, “I’m gonna get it tattooed.” And I’d never do that. A lot of women ask me to tattoo their breasts and I refuse to do that. Personally I find that’s objectifying them. Even though they may not feel like that and it’s a personal choice but one day I basically looked at them (the person) and was like, “Do you promise me you’re not going to tattoo it?” and I (signed) their arm and the next day they tattooed it on their butt. And they sent me a photo of it, and I was like, “Wow… that’s a bit too far.” But I didn’t want to vilify them. I didn’t cut contact completely. The nature of fans, or I call them friends or super friends is, some of them are in it for the long haul, some kind of come into your life and your presence and they come out and I guess she’ll always be around but she did ease off over time. But yeah that’s probably the most intense!
I can see where you’re coming from 100% but from a fan perspective I can understand tattooing a lyric that really means something to you as opposed to a signature I guess.
But still I don’t wanna make them feel bad. There’s a lot of fondness in that but maybe it is a bit far.
Yeah, fair enough.
Speaking of fans, you guys did a ‘Thundabling’ text line recently and copped some super random shit. Did you get any texts or convos that in particular really stand out in your mind?
Ummm, Yeah like, I talked to one fella who had broken out of a mental institution and I called him just randomly because he’d sent me the text and you don’t know who’s on the other end of the line. And he was like blown away!
He was like, “Oh Tuk! How ya doin’ mate?”
I was like, “How ya doin’ man, what’s up? Where ya from and what’s your name?”
And he was like, “Man. Can’t talk to you long, I’m actually on the run! I just broke out of the mental institution.” He didn’t say it like that, I can’t remember the jargon he used but it was something like that and yeah (he’s like),“I’m actually on the run mate, so I can’t really talk for that long but thanks for calling! Fucken love yous hey mate!”
But that was absurd, like that’s just really funny.
But you were his first text. His second one was to his mum. But you were his first.
I really only spoke to him for about 3 minutes. Some people I talked to for like 15 but yeah, he will definitely stick in my mind.
Yeah man, that’s crazy!
Now your last track, Never Say Never, which was obviously a nod to your favourite musician the Biebs…
Our favourite musician who?
Oh right! Yep. Yep (laughs). I see what you did there.
But that film clip is hilarious with the retirement village theme. Who came up with that idea?
Ummm we were actually neck deep in writing the record so we were trying to do heaps of stuff and basically a big project fell through and at the last minute this guy had this kind of idea about the old persons’ home. And ‘Never Say Never’ tying in with the old persons’ home and the concept of Everyone We Know - it’s abstract but we kind of found a way to conceptually link it in our heads and we just pictured ourselves when we’re going to be older, in nursing homes or whatever. You know we’re not going to be listening to Billie Holiday or The Beatles, we’re going to be listening to Dr. Dre 2001 and stuff like that; so we just kind of envisioned that if you know what I mean. That wasn’t actually our idea, we just ran with it. And massive respect because those guys turned it around in 10 days. From letting us know of the concept, to what we did, it was turned around in 10 days. So I was like, “Wow, they really killed it!”
Oh shit so in 10 days… that actor Don Bridges, was he a fan already? Because he knew all the words!
No he’s just a pro!
Wow, that’s incredible!
Yeah it was awesome to hang out with all those guys too. There were like four main characters that were actually hired actors and the rest… well there was a nursing home across the street and they came over and we provided scones and cream. It was lit! We were just hanging out with these awesome humans all day and the actors in particular were just so funny. The guy for my verse - he couldn’t learn it. There wasn’t enough time so I just actually hung out with him all day and he’s a bro!
I think one thing I forgot was when I was young and my grandmother was like… old, you know she was kind of square? She was before the baby boomers, whereas he was like, he grew up listening to Jimi Hendrix and all that kinda stuff so they kind of like, probably went a bit harder than us in some ways.
Yeah they’re probably listening to Jimi Hendrix and stuff in there now.
Yeah and they were really funny! Frank (I think his name was) would say things like, “I can’t wait to see your mum in the nursing home when I go there” and just dropping crazy stuff!
I love that you guys have addressed the elephant in the room when it comes to “white people in hip hop” with your track ‘Ignorance Is Bliss.’ With A.B. Original bringing the absolute fire at the moment with their album Reclaim Australia…
It’s great to hear a solid acknowledgement from the other side of the coin. Have you had feedback from the hip hop community about this track?
It’s all been positive. And we didn’t really expect that. It’s amazing what they’re doing and all we really want to do is support and contribute to a really important conversation. Because basically we live off a genre of music that was kind of born out of oppression and we obviously haven’t experienced anything like that and yet we have the ability to carve a career out of it. So show support and we just want to contribute and help and we’re not trying to be heroes or social justice warriors, we just want to show support and provide whatever we can do to help out what’s happening from since the dawn of Western civilisation to now. There’s some atrocities that happened and keep happening and we just wanted to kind of make our, I guess our stance heard. At the end of the day, we believe it’s people like Briggs and Trials that will actually need to lead and we support them 100%.
Exactly, I think it’s very important as well, especially at this point in time, with the way the world’s going.
Finally I have a less serious question for ya!
Who’s your top 5?
Oh gosh! Um! That’s really… I dunno!! Okay.. I’m just going to go (with my top 5) right now. I saw Nicki Minaj drop a really ill verse the other day. Let’s go... Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole… I’m gonna go Sampa The Great and Mantra.
With Kendrick, do you reckon that he’s actually 2Pac, ghost-writing? Get it? Ghost-writing?
Do you know the meaning of ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’? The acronym?
2 Pimp A Butterfly but if you change that (B) to a (C) for Caterpillar, and a caterpillar changes into a butterfly! 2 Pimp A Caterpillar = 2PAC
Oh shit! You have blown my mind!
But nah, he’s just himself but he’s channelling some amazing stuff. Massive respect to Kendrick. I did the support on a solo thing a couple of years back and I got to meet him and at the end he grabbed my hand and said, “Tuka, you’re the shit!” and I literally cried after he walked away (laughs).
Oh shit! I would have! That’s incredible!
Yeah man. What a dude.
Awesome, well thank you so much for having a chat to me today! Have an awesome Christmas and New Years and I’m looking forward to your album coming out in Feb!
You too! You’re not alone; you’re just by yourself!
Oh thanks man. I’ll probably cry now when I hang up!
Me = Dead. That was so sweet.
Written by Kate Carnell