Stephanie Leigh - ThundHerStruck

The whole L.A. tribute band scene was really just getting started about the time you got going, right?

Well, you know what? There's certain icon tribute bands that have been around for ten years plus. Like Atomic Punks and Led Zepagain, and AC/DShe, who has been around for some time. So we do kudos to those that, you know, have been at it for so long, and what a great, fun thing. But it really became popular because there were a few that were really very good. And if you, obviously, don't get a chance to ever see Zeppelin in your life, and you want to check it out, you go to these concerts, or (Van) Halen, who isn't performing anymore.
But, all of a sudden, for your ten dollars, there's a lot of tribute bands that pop up, and you go because it's music that you're comfortable with, that you like, that you grew up with. You don't know where the band is, you know, to check out the real stuff, so you can afford the ten dollars to go check out the tribute. And, all of a sudden, it became saturated.


(Courtesy Stephanie Leigh)

But, again, I stand firm by the fact that there's room enough for everyone to play whatever music they want to. I mean, it's Hollywood and then some, you know? But, the better ones rise to the top with the tribute bands. And those are the ones I would speak highly of, because it's still fun and you're paying tribute to the band that you love. You're not trying to sell your own music or anything, you're just out there having fun playing music that you love.

What kind of response did you get in the early days?

You know, honestly, we've always had amazing response, and I stand by our performance. We have a great show, and great musicians. Again, with Tina, Dyna and I already in the music business, we've already been established in different bands, and I've been endorsed by Pearl Drums for 15 years plus. And you're already established in the business, and people just want to check out your new band.


So when we started this band we started headlining locally. And then we started playing festivals and things like that. And ThundHerStruck has played overseas, international, and for the troops and stuff. So we always got a good response, but I tell ya, again, curiosity brings 'em in and we keep 'em coming back for more after they see our show.

If you don't deliver, they're not coming back.

Exactly. But I say, this band, we've got the biggest balls of 'em all (laughs).

Speaking of which ... You'd be hard-pressed to find a more blatantly sexual band than AC/DC. Lyrically, I mean.


So, where do you draw the line on some of the songs?

We don't. You know, this is tongue-in-cheek, it's AC/DC. Our singer doesn't change one bit, you know?

Are there certain ones you don't do, I guess, is what I'm getting at.

No, we just plug along. We've got three hours plus material with the songs we do know. All the way from "The Jack" to "Problem Child," you know? And the popular, mainstream ones. Not that we play those all the time, but you have to plug a few of 'em into the show. Everyone is familiar with "Highway To Hell" and "Dirty Deeds." But we've also got "Beatin' Around The Bush," (laughs) that we've thrown in there. There's a lot of different ones. "Whole Lotta Rosie," of course. So there's a lot of different ones that we'll stuff in there. We're not too proud to do any of 'em (laughs).

Someone had asked me about just that, and things like "The Jack." But you do that one.

Yes we do. Absolutely. And Dyna is amazing. She does Bon (Scott) and Brian (Johnson), you know we call her "Bon Johnson" because she does both extremely well.

What is it about women and AC/DC, though?

AC/DC rocks! (laughs) AC/DC rocks. You've got all kinds of styles in the same band. I mean, you've got "The Jack," that slow, thumpin', bluesy, rippin', night prowler kind of thing. From that to the straight-on, groovin', things like "The Girl's Got Rhythm," things like that. "Dirty Deeds," and even the heavier stuff like "Let There Be Rock" and so on. But, for a female, you've got all those moods in one band.

Is a lot of this just about attitude with you? Just to be able to go and really rock out and do this stuff?

To all of us, I believe, yes. But to me, it's about having fun with your friends, playing great tunes, great friends, great times. It just doesn't get better than that. We're very fortunate to have been part of all these events we've done. Locally, we're well-known and stuff, but now, internationally, when we do all these shows, like that major trade show in Germany, and that's just really a very good blessing that we've had. Because these are wonderful events. And the Moondance Jam, which we just played last weekend, had 23,000 people, and 28 amazing bands - (Ted) Nugent, Steve Miller, Heart - just an incredible lineup, and we're so proud to have been a part of that.

(Courtesy Stephanie Leigh)

What kind of response have you gotten from the headliners at those festivals?

You know what? We've been blessed with that, Tom. We hang out with Foreigner, and bands that are friends of ours. We're getting ready to open for Foreigner again. And, at the MusikMesse we were sitting with Simon Phillips and Toto and those guys. We've known them through different areas in our lives. So they're curious as to what this band is, but this band speaks for itself. And I'm very proud of this band, each member is very skilled in their own right, not to mention as part of this band. We play well together as friends, we play well together as a unit. We've gotten a great response from everybody.
And we're not trying to show off, you know, like "Check out our band," you know? We know where we stand, in the tribute scene. We know we're paying homage to AC/DC. We know we're a fun, party band.And that's what we are and who we are.

Have you seen some of the tribute bands take what they do a bit too seriously?

All too well; this is Hollywood. We've seen tribute bands with more drama, with member changes, than on your local (TV) soap opera. I'm amazed sometimes, because it does get taken out of proportion from some people. The tribute scene is merely a wonderful way to stay in the music scene and play music that you love to play, without taking the time to create, you know ... so that's where we're at. But, tribute bands needs to realize that's what it means, paying tribute to, another band's music. And having fun doing it! And gettin' paid, for God's sake!

You mentioned Pearl, but talk a bit about the gear you're using these days.

Sure! Pearl has been standing by me through all of my bands. Since day one, God bless 'em. I mean, they're great products, so I just can't talk enough about 'em. Ahead Sticks, now those are very interesting sticks.

How so?

They're aluminum sticks, and you remove the tip, and you remove the plastic sleeve, and put on a new sleeve and a new tip, and voila! There's your new stick. So, it's an incredible stick, and it has saved my wrist. I love them.
Sabian, I just jumped onboard last year. They're great, and I really just appreciate the endorsement. I think that Sabian is an amazing cymbal company and I appreciate their endorsement, how's that?

(Laughs)Anything else you want to mention?

Well, one more endorsement, EV microphones. All of us are endorsed by EV, Electro-Voice. And they're phenominal. That company is incredible. I mean, we played at the NAMM show and did an acoustic set - (laughs) don't ask. Acoustic AC/DC, it was very funny. But we had people from bands we know asking us about those mics, that's how damned good they were.

Talk a bit about the shows for the military, and how those got started.

Let me think, where did it all start ... It started four years ago when we went to Japan, to the Friendship Festival in Okinawa. That was under our different band name. So the ball started rolling there. The promoters loved us, they raved about us, and from that point on, we went to the Balkans, and as ThundHerStruck, they brought us back to the Balkans, to Afghanistan twice, to Iraq on the Fourth of July - that was incredible. Tom, I could tell you stories about Iraq that were just incredible.

Go ahead.

We get there the first night and we stayed in Saddam Hussein's palace. We've got our sleeping bags and stuff because we think we're sleeping in tents, out in the dirt, and five bands and five comedians met, from AKA Productions, that's the production company that sponsored us. And we're lookin' around, and it was, "Oh, my Lord, this is unbelievable." It's just what everybody thinks. And this horrible man let his people starve, and have no water, and he's got his lakes and, you know, this beautiful mansion. So we all dispersed, each band and each comedian went to our own tours.


Well, we were right on the front line, we went to Sauder City, right where the bombings were happening. And, of course, that night we are sleeping in a blown-out building. And, of course, no one would ever complain, because these are the conditions that these men and women are living in, you know.


Rockin' for the troops (Courtesy ThundHerStruck)

And we're completely only out there for the morale of the troops. That is why we are there, there is no other political statement that any of us ever make.


The only thing I will say, that we saw, especially from the soldiers telling us, is it's such a shame that we portrayed it in America as these horrible things happening, when so much good is happening out there.

The so-called TV network news departments and their spin on it.

I mean, girls are allowed to go to school for the first time. And education was up 85 percent, they're building new schools. Just things of that nature, and that (the military) is helping them build their own communities, and develop them, and continue them themselves. So the soldiers are extremely proud of all they've done. And it's nice to let them show their pride, and be proud with them, for the things they've done over there.


And the next day we're Blackhawked out, you know, a whirlwind tour ... I forget the name of the base, God forgive me, and they lost my cymbals. So it's sound check, and I'm like, "Where's the cymbals?" And they're saying, "We don't have them." And I'm smiling, but it's like "What am I gonna do?"


So the helicopter takes off, they're gone. So it turns out (the cymbals) got loaded up with another band, so they accidentally got loaded up with the wrong one. So I show up at showtime, and, of course, there's no cymbals. I'm pretty much asking if we have any trash can lids (laughs). And all the troops are around, and it's like 120 degrees, sweltering heat, pass-out zone. And all you can do is smile, and be glad you're there for these troops. The last thing they need to see is some chick from California having a hissy fit because her cymbals are missing, you know? Some of these bases don't have running water. So I just smiled and said, "You kmow, we'll just go with the flow."

Not much else to do.

And what they got turned out to be more like pie tin things, so as soon as I hit the thing, the whole piece of tin wraps around my stick (laughs). And I had to pull my stick out, to continue drumming on the toms, because there's no high-hats, nothing. And Dyna's singing, and she backs up and tries to straighten it out and let me hit it again and it'd happen again. It was so comical. Our set got cut because there's only so many songs you can pull off like that. It was unfortunate, because I felt the troops deserved our full show. But - hey, you're there, you just gotta make the best of it. And in the end, we were just stage-divin' out there and throwing out some CDs and it was a great show.


And when we came back, we had a press conference at LAX ... and we got a letter of accommodation from (Senator) Feinstein, and from the lieutenant governor. And letters of appreciation and awards and stuff. But it was an amazing tour with all the different things we saw, and the people we met. Absolutely amazing. I think we have some pictures of that up on our website, as well.

With Chris Slade (Courtesy ThundHerStruck)

Yeah, I've seen those. Now, didn't you just go back there, with a "guest drummer?"

We just did Afghanistan, and it was Chris Slade, the actual former drummer of AC/DC. And I couldn't go, I had a family reunion (laughs), and you can't say you can't go, you gotta go with the family. Italians, you know? And it was unbelievable that Chris was able to do it, not only for the band, but how great for the troops. I mean, it was just a great thing all around. I was bummed that I couldn't go, but, God, how wonderful it was that if I couldn't go, he went. And the troops just loved him. And he's going to come down for my birthday bash in September and sit in. He's our new best friend (laughs). He came down to our CD release party in May. And Chris came down and sat in on the encore.

Another big hit, I'm sure.

Yes. I mean, our show is just fun. That's the way we present that, and you can tell when people are having that much fun onstage. So, people in the crowd definitely have a good time with us.

And you've met AC/DC?

No, Dyna and Carin met Brian. And, this is a quote from him. He and Dyna were hanging out all night, and he's like (in accent voice) "You're too beautiful to be me! You are too beautiful to be me!" (Laughter) That was very cute. And then, Chris, our buddy. And we've met Simon Wright, too, another drummer of AC/DC. And we're determined to meet Mr. Angus himself. And, of course, Malcolm. Phil Rudd, all of 'em. Look out, here we come.

(Laughs) You're working toward that, eh?

Oh, yeah. That's our evil plan. To kidnap AC/DC (laughs).

Maybe you can do a show with them sometime.

That would be awesome, to have Angus come down and jam with us (laughter). I mean, we will continue as long as we're in demand. To be able to do some of these military events, and go to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Balkans, you know, Bosnia and Kosovo, it's just incredible. We would always partake in those events. And all the festivals, you know, those are hard to pass up (laughs). When are you gonna come down and do a show?

I think I'd better leave the shows to you.

Aw, come on! (laughs)

(Courtesy ThundHerStruck)

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