ThundHerStruck - Tina Wood


I asked Stephanie this, and I'll ask you, too. What is it about women wanting to do AC/DC?

For me, personally ... I think a lot of people think it's easy. And, to a degree, some of their music isn't as technical as a lot of other music, but it's such a huge feel thing. I think where a lot of bands fall short is not locking in that feel. And that was a huge thing for us when we started doing this. Having the right bass player, it's gotta groove, it's gotta have that AC/DC feel. And that was a huge thing for us. And I think some other bands have tried this, thinking, "Oh, I can do that," not at all realizing that they've got some really unique grooves and feels. And it's a whole stage show, too. I mean, it's one thing to play it, but to run around like Angus and do what he does, it's a lot more difficult. And it takes a little while to get up to steam.

(Laughs) Yeah.


Tina and Andrea (Courtesy ThundHerStruck)

I mean, I have nothing but respect for him. What he does is incredible, really. It's one thing to stand there and play stuff, but to run around and roll around the stage (laughs) and play, it's a whole different ball game. But I think another thing, too, is that it appeals to such a big audience. I mean, a lot of tributes don't necessarily appeal to such a huge audience. We have kids, we have teenagers, we have adults, we have ...

People like me, old farts?

(Laughs) All kinds. And it appeals to such a large audience. The music is one thing to do, but then there's the stage show, on top of that, it's so entertaining. It's probably the most fun I've had in any band I've played in. I love the music and I love the show. I can be a complete goof up there. It's cool (laughs). People like it.

Let's talk about that a bit, learning to be Angus. How much work did it take for your inner Angus to come out?

Well, I kind of felt it out at first. I just started building it up gradually. I started watching more of his videos, watching his moves, and when I was learning the songs I really listened to the songs, really analyzed the songs. And I tried to pick out the feel as close as possible. Obviously I'm not going to sound exactly like Angus, because I'm not Angus. But I try to emulate it as close as possible, and play what he plays. I mean, the real AC/DC fans sing the solos when you play them.

(Laughs)

I think it's real important, when you do a tribute, to really learn the stuff, and I think audiences really appreciate it when you take the time to do that. And I'd keep watching the videos and add more of his moves.

Did that give you a new respect for his stamina?

Oh, my goodness, yes! I have to work out three times a week just to be able to do this gig! (laughs) I have to stay fit. But it's good, the shows help keep me fit, and it's fun.

But you never gave any thought to how blatantly sexual AC/DC is?

Well, it's all so tongue-in-cheek. I mean, things like that don't faze us. We get a kick out of the fact that it's so blatant, it's funny. It's fun. We're all about fun.

What were the early audiences like, were they showing up just out of curiosity?

The early audiences, a lot of them, were friends that we knew. And I had a lot of my customers to come down. I mean, there were some curiosity seekers, but we've been around the scene for quite a while and we knew a lot of people, and we dragged their butts down to the shows.
We started out getting a pretty decent audience, right off the bat. And obviously there were the curiosity seekers, just coming in to see what we're like. You know; "Girls playing AC/DC? I gotta see this." And we would make believers out of them, you know. And we ended up just building up a reputation, word-of-mouth spread, so that's kind of how we built it up. And it's kind of taken off from there.

But I would think, I don't know, maybe more from a musician's standpoint, that you'd want to do it for the same reason you'd want to do a Who tribute.

Yeah. Yeah.

Just so much attitude in there, along with the music.

Oh, yeah! I love the Who, too. I listened to a lot of Who when I was growing up. I think I always had a fondness for AC/DC, growing up. I still have vinyl of them (laughs), from when I was growing up. I saw them play when I was younger, at a festival in England, and they rocked. I mean, the music's great, and the entertainment level is great. And that combination of women and AC/DC seems to be a big hit. So, it's very cool.

Of course, I'm still waiting on that female Who tribute to come along ...

(Laughs) There's probably one out there. There's gotta be! If not, I think it will happen. Absolutely.

You're heavily involved in repairing guitars now.

Yeah, that's my main thing. I fix guitars for a living, that's my main gig. We do the band thing as kind of a fun side project. I mean, we try to keep it realistic - it is a tribute band - and it can only go so far. But we have been able to go out and do some amazing events. I love doing the military tours, I love going out there for the troops. Those are probably my favorite events.


With the troops in Afghanistan (Courtesy ThundHerStruck)

Are those among the most appreciative audiences you've had?

Oh, my God! I mean, they're just so happy that you take the time to go out there and play for them. It's awesome, you know. They just love it, and it's such a big thing. We really try to do those as much as we can. Although we are a little bit nervous as to how often we can do it. Because I am full-time, I do have my clientele, and it keeps me really slammed. And I don't always know how many times I can get away. But we really do try to take the time to do that for the troops. I mean, we also go out and play the "weekend warrior" type things, and we play festivals and things, and those are a lot of fun. But, yeah, we get the best of both worlds - we get to travel and we get to come home (laughs).

Talk a bit more about your clientele, for your guitar work.

Well, it's just that I've been doing it for so long, I have a really good clientele. I've been building that up, as I do pretty much any kind of repairs. I do a lot of fretwork. I have a lot of experience, but I really love what I'm doing. But, yeah, I've built up this clientele, and it keeps me extremely busy, pretty much all year round. I kinda base myself out of one shop, but I do some work out of other shops. And I do have some pro clients, and they keep me really busy.

Doing all the work you do on guitars, has that changed your opinion on how guitars are made today by the major companies?

Well, the quality has changed. Stuff gets cheaper, a lot of things get made in Korea and those places. More and more, over the years, I've noticed that the necks, in setting them up, are way more squirrely, out of whack, and I have to do more work to get them to play right. And some of that is all this mass production where the wood is not really dry, and built in a very humid climate and then it comes to a drier climate, the necks are just all over the place. It can be quite a bit of work to get some of these things, these mass-produced things, to play right. But there are some custom builders out there that are making some really nice guitars now. So you see quite a variation of stuff out there.

Somebody told me, years ago, that - and I don't want to make it look like I'm picking on Fender, because I love Fenders - but he said you could take 100 1959 Stratocasters and line 'em up. Ten of them would be great and ten would be terrible and the rest would be in-between. He said you could take 100 brand new ones, and it would be the same thing. Would you agree?

Well, you know what it is with guitars? Like, with those old Fenders, there was probably a lot more hands-on done with them way back when. But, what I feel is that you take the right combination of wood and the right combination of everything on the inside. But every piece of wood sounds different. You could even have two guitars that came from the same tree, cut from the same plank, and they still sound different.
Wood is a very unique thing. It has a certain mystery about it. You can get an idea of how it's going to sound, but it can sound different by the time you've built it and plugged it in. And everything you put onto it affects the way it sounds. If you're really picky about guitars and sounds, you have to go through a lot of guitars, as you said, not just Fenders, but other companies. And just because it's expensive doesn't necessarily mean it sounds great. Just because it's vintage doesn't necessarily mean it sounds great. Sometimes you can pick up a really cheap guitar that just happens to have a fantastic sound. That's not hugely common, but it does happen.

Right.

For me, I go by the feel, the sound and then the actual guitar itself. I don't say, "Oh, it's a vintage Strat, it's got to be good," or "it's a new USA Strat, it's got to be good." A lot of it is down to the actual wood and the construction and a piece of wood that just happens to resonate. Plus how it feels to you, because tbere's so many neck widths, sizes, fret sizes, radiuses, out there, that these guitars can sound and feel very different. So, it's kind of a personal thing for me with guitars. If I pick up a guitar and it feels and sounds great to me, it doesn't matter to me what it is.

Right. The relationship of the player to the guitar.

Right.

How has the use of CNCs impacted guitar quality?

Well, CNCs are very consistent. I mean, once you get them programmed and set up, you can spit out a lot of necks and woods and they're very consistent. As long as the wood is dry, you know, dried properly, it comes out very consistently. And a lot of people are going that route, because it's a lot less expensive. I mean, the initial setup can be expensive, getting the equipment and getting the programming and so on done. But once you've got it set up properly, you can spit out a lot of necks and bodies less expensively. It's a very good way of doing it, if you're doing production-line stuff. But, then again, it does depend on the programmer. It does depend on the machine and it does depend on how dried the wood is, the quality of the wood.

Have you seen, in your shop work, someone who comes in and - we won't mention any names - but has one of those very expensive custom shop things, and it's basically a piece of crap?

Oh, yeah. Yeah. I've seen some very expensive ... junk. I mean, real bad, where someone spent a lot of money and this thing has real problems and real issues. Expensive doesn't necessarily mean good.


Angus never looked this good.
(Courtesy ThundHerStruck)

In your work as a luthier and as a repair person, have you encountered any prejudice?

Yeah. Not so much today, because now I think people are so much more accepting. I think back, when I was starting in London, there were some people that wouldn't bring repairs over to the shop because I was a girl. I found that out after I got the record deal and moved to L.A. (laughs). And then when I first came out here, I had a guy say right to my face, "I'd never have a girl work on my guitar." And I had other guys admit that at first they were skeptical, but they liked my work.
It's actually now, I find, that it's the reverse affect, to a degree. I've had some customers say that women are more careful, they're going to take their time more, they're more gentle with their guitars. So you can have that aspect working for you. But it works both ways, you're going to have guys who think that women shouldn't work on their guitars. And, whatever, there's plenty of work on guitars in L.A.
But, those things don't really bother me. If people feel that way, then they feel that way. That's their choice. But, yeah, I have come across it, and it has been an issue at times. I actually felt that more in the music business, especially in No Shaame, right at the end of that. We hit walls all the time of, "Oh, women can't play," and "Women can't do that." But that's where I noticed it severely, was in the music (business) the most. So I think things have changed a lot in the business.

Let's talk about the gear a little bit. What are you using now? I know you play ESPs.

Yeah! We've been getting really great support from ESP. They're wonderful, and I really love how the guitars play and sound. They have a really good feel to them. They make it real comfortable for me to play the stuff. And they do have that look to them. And ESP has been amazingly supportive. We've done the overseas tours, like in Afghanistan and Iraq, and they donate guitars for us every time we go over there to raffle off for the troops. And the ones they're donating aren't the cheap ones, they're the expensive ones (laughs). So, yes, we've enjoyed playing the guitars, and we have a really good relationship with them.

And you play a Viper, but which one?

I have two Vipers. I have an ESP Viper and I have an Ltd Viper.

And what is the amp these days?

A Marshall. I have a Marshall, '73 JMP-800. A 50-watt. It has a transformer mod and a gain stage mod, so I get a bit more volume. It sounds great, it just has that classic kind of sound. I can't take that overseas, obviously.

And what pedals do you play?

Well, I have a I have a Peterson strobe tuner that I take - love that tuner. I have a (Radial) Tonebone that I use for the rhythm and a (Visual Sound) Jekyll and Hyde that I use for rhythm, too. I have two pedals in case I need a backup. And I have a couple of pedals that my amp guy here built, for the lead, and I also have a backup boost pedal. And that's pretty much it. I keep it basically simple. I never know what amp I'm going to get, so I basically run through the amp clean, and then I run through the pedals to get my gain sound.

Well, let's make everyone happy, any other endorsers?

Well, I have an endorsement with Graph Tech Ghost System, an acoustic pickup. Because Electro-Voice likes for us to do these acoustic sets, like at the NAMM show and so on, so I have this Graph Tech Ghost System in my Ltd, so I get an acoustic guitar sound with my electric guitar, and it sounds phenominal. I also use DiMarzio straps. And the other girls have endorsements, too. Andrea has an Aguilar bass (amp) endorsement and an ESP endorsement. Carin has an ESP endorsement. And Dyna, of course, with EV.


Tina, Dyna and Carin, with friends, at "The Big Ball."
(Courtesy ThundHerStruck)

Tell me about the gig in Wales last year, was that some sort of a convention?

Yes. It's called "The Big Ball," and it's an AC/DC convention. It was all AC/DC tributes, every band. I think they had, like, seven, eight, bands, over three days. They had a bluegrass band, Hayseed (Dixie), that's a bluegrass AC/DC band - they're great (NOTE: Hayseed Dixie has also done bluegrass arrangements of songs by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, KISS and others. - T.W.). But yeah, it was an absolute blast, it was so much fun.

Are you surprised at how well this band has been accepted?

At first, it was, "Wow! People really like this. This is cool," but as we've gone on and built up this fan base, I get such a kick out of how much enjoyment people get out of this. I mean, I get a lot of enjoyment out of it, but to see people singing along and having so much fun, you can't beat that. But, it still amazes me to this day how people enjoy it, how much seeing a tribute is so enjoyable. If the tribute is really good and really true to the band they're emulating.
But, yeah, it's cool. It's cool to see that enthusiasm from the audience. It's awesome.

But you still haven't heard from Angus?

No! No. I can't wait - one of these days I want to jam with Angus. (laughs) Dyna and Carin have met Brian, and we've jammed on a number of occasions with Chris Slade, and he's a great guy, too. So yeah, we got to meet a few of them.

So we need to get the word to Malcolm and Angus, right?

Yeah! (laughs) We want to meet them. We want them to come up and jam with us. That would be awesome. That would be a dream. Having the AC/DC guys come up and jam with us.

So, during rehearsal, you could walk up to Angus and say, "Hey, you didn't play that right."

(Laughs) No! (Laughter) I don't think I could ever say that to Angus, 'cause he can play it any way he wants to, and it's right.

ThundHerStruck
(Courtesy ThundHerStruck)

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