A Ripple Conversation With Stephen Bishop Of Thunder Horse

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.


You and I are close to the same age. For me personally, KISS was an epic part of my life. My first album was Love Gun! I still have that vinyl to this day! BUT; There were 2 bands that literally changed my life. I have to say the first was Jane’s Addiction and the other was Ministry. I know, I know…..Not very “doom” of me, right? I have to disagree. Jane's taught me how to make art from my thoughts in the form of music. Ministry taught me how to say what I had to say, without compromise. I love those bands and have to say that In owe my entire musical career to them.


What have been your musical epiphany moments?


I was a closet nerd as a child. I was awkward and slightly reclusive. I joined Middle school band as a trumpet player. If I had never joined band, and had the teachers that I had (Mr. Knapp, Mr. Braken, Mr. Miculka and Mr. Meza), I never would have become the man I am today. I owe my entire existence to them. Band pulled me out of my shell. If I had never been in band, I would have most likely been a serial killer, or something worse.


Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?


I write a lot of “riffs.” I also think I am fairly involved as the arranger? I honestly have to say that If I didn’t have the Bird as a co-writer, none of these albums would have ever been released. I am pretty good at piecing together ideas, but I can’t write or arrange without Todd. He is my muse and bails me out of my perpetual state of “Iommi” riff hell. LOL There is no method to the madness. Whatever comes first, comes first.


Who has influenced you the most?


I am really influenced by A LOT of things! I take inspiration from daily events and past experiences; But, if I had too narrow it down to one thing, I’d have to say that the person that has influenced me the most, is my Mom. She always encouraged me to become who I am, and to never give up on my dreams, even when the real world would get in the way. I am a total Momma’s Boy..LOL


Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?


We are in an unfortunate state of perpetual inspiration right now. I have been around for awhile now, and I can tell you without a doubt, that we are as divided as I have ever seen it. I hate it. I have lost friends and loved ones over stupid shit, and I have tightened my circle of trust immensely because of it. I look to current events and my love of history and fantasy as inspiration, but it seems that lately, reality and the tragic comedy we live in has taken over as my topic of choice. I’d rather be writing about Halflings and Ogres though.


We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?


San Antonio, TX is hands down one of the greatest music markets of all time. It has a rich history of metal and breaking music before the rest of the country could catch on (RIP Joe “ The Godfather” Anthony). SA is a fantastic melting pot, without the weight of a town like Austin. It’s the “little town down the road,” and that gives SA an opportunity to bring in a more eclectic variety of bands. I have been all over the world, but I always say that San Antonio is my home.


Where'd the band name come from?


I’ll take this question…….NO, it has nothing to do with Dethklok!!! I used to work offshore. The first offshore drilling rig I worked on was called ThunderHorse. I loved the name and wrote it in my little travel book YEARS ago. Just to clear the air; Thunderhorse by Dethklok is ONE WORD…We are THUNDER (space) HORSE….2 words..LOL


You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?


Hmmmmm…..FrankenHooker 2025. Why not?


You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?


I think the song that touched me the most, and I would take the time to dwell on and slather over, would have to be “O Death” by Ralph Stanley. I LOVE old gospel and chain gang hymnals. They are truly haunting and honest. I could wrote 2000 words about the impact this song has, and the impact it has had on me. Mr. Stanley’s voice is perfect for this song, with or without music accompaniment.


Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?


Oh man…I have a ton of these! By now, everyone knows that Bird, and Shakes and I were all in a band together before Thunder Horse. If ANYTHING could go wrong, that band made sure it did! We have fought each other, fought other bands, fought the audience! We have been broke down in the most god awful places. We have been lost on the lost highway…Spinal Tap? Pfffft. Those guys were Amateurs!


Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?


We live for Live! I personally am not a huge fan of the studio. While there is a certain magic about it, I’d rather be in a shit hole, smoke filled club, in front of a few people that truly give a shit about what we are doing and why we are there. We need live music, and I hope it comes back soon! I certainly won’t take it for granted ever again.


What makes a great song?


It’s all about the hook, baby! Really though…I have been moved by songs that have no hook, and no chorus (weird, huh?). I think what makes a great song, is that people react to it; no matter how they react. Music has to bring about an emotional response, good or bad. I remember the words to every song I hate….think about that one for a bit.


Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?


Geez…..My very first original music band was way back in 1988 in a band called “Funkenstein.” We changed the name to HighRise for obvious Trademark reasons (Sorry George Clinton!). We were the epitome of a typical 80’s era, high school band nerd Funk Band! We had a 4 piece horn section and slap bass and the works! I think the first original song I wrote, way back then, was called Mr. Door to Door Salesman……Wow. I’ll see if I can find a copy of it? Compared to todays pop hits…It might go triple platinum! The lyrics are definitely more substantive than W.A.P…lol


What piece of your music are particularly proud of?


I am very proud of every song I ever wrote, good and bad..and trust me, I’ve had some bad ones! LOL. I do have to brag a bit and say that I am extremely proud of the Thunder Horse stuff, especially the latest album, Chosen One. We went way outside of my comfort zone and recorded some songs that I think might be able to stand the test of time. I am very proud of ALL of the songs on that album. I especially love TEXAS. I was petrified to release that track and thought it would be the death fo the band! Seems like people actually get what I am saying and like it. Who would have thunk?


Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?


There are TOO many bands to name. I’ll ramble off some of my favorites, and bands that I personally want to tour with though: Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Elder, Neurosis, Monolord, Forming the Void, JaketheHawk…just to name a few!


Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?


Vinyl and Digi. I just can’t carry around those damn CD binders anymore. I was actually against printing CD’s on our first album. We sold out and had to reprint 3 times! I never would have guessed!


Whiskey or Beer?  And defend your choice


BUDWEISER…why? Because We Deserve What Every individual Should Enjoy Regularly….Cold Beer (I also like Bourbon).


We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?


You absolutely can not come to SATX without stopping at Hogwild Records and Tapes! They are historic and should be a Texas monument. Support local music stores!


What's next for the band?


I truly hope we can get out and play some shows on the road soon. We are not spring chickens, and don’t get on the road often, but with the success of this album, and the demand we feel is out there, we need to hit the road and play to some friends and fans! We would love to come to your regional festival! Hit us up!


Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?


We simply want to say thank you! I have personally been on a couple of labels in the past, and I have NEVER felt the warmth and welcome that I have with Ripple Music. I feel that we have finally made a home in this god forsaken world of music. If it was not for you, the friends and fans, we would all be nowhere. Thank you again and Cheers from Texas!!


I'm proud of you Stephen
From that bratty little five year old boy to a successful songwriter and producer and arranger I knew you had it in you from the day you started I love you little brother