When we here at Beat last heard from Ten Thousand in October last year, they were preparing to launch their EP and had just released a video for the track Like A Disease. Now half a year has gone by and the band is starting to see the rewards of their hard work. Not that they weren't before, but the Ten Thousand of May 2012 is a slick, stage-ready rock machine with the rare potential to cross over into international markets. In fact, the Australian scene may be too small for them: their well-produced, groove-heavy melodic hard rock is the kind of stuff they lap up furiously in Europe and Asia, and the USA would probably take to it quite nicely indeed too.
The band is not immune to the potential of overseas relocation. "We're heading for a move next year, so everything we do this year is towards that," vocalist Jay Bowen says. "That's the goal. We want to not just turn up and see what happens – we want to turn up with dates booked." The move will no doubt be ably assisted by their buddies in Juke Cartel, the Melbourne band whose stock value shot up when their singer Toby Rand appeared on Rock Star: Supernova, the TV series designed to find a singer for a supergroup featuring Motley Crue's Tommy Lee, Metallica's Jason Newstead and Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke. Ten Thousand recently hit the road with Juke Cartel, and the bands share a similar energy. "They said they'd help us out over there, so even just a good word might do a lot," guitarist Marty K says.
With the EP now on the streets, Ten Thousand is looking to their next musical statement. Two years into the band's life – actually, this interview took place exactly two years since they first got together – they're exploring different aspects of their sound. "We realise when we're doing new material that we do have a sound that we have cultivated somehow, or it's fallen into place like that," Bowen says. "It means you can do things you haven't aimed for before, knowing that you're going to bring with it a certain something, knowing that it's going to sound like you anyway." Guitarist Brandon Valentine puts this down to the diversity and creativity within the band, where every member composes. "With five active writers, some of the stuff that comes out is really interesting to me. All of these different little flavours that you end up picking up." Drummer Mike J Rivers says this is especially evident on the latest batch of tunes. "The song we were working on last night, our bass player Luke (McKenzie) wrote it about some experiences he'd had over in Scotland. It's a really dark song. He wrote the lyrics and instrumentation, and then we jammed it out, but the idea came from him. It represents what he's into, and then we all poured our influences on and turned it into something else."
The material is likely to be tested live before being committed to tape or digital bits or what have you. Bowen says the band is aiming for its next release to be a solid batch of songs selected based on their strength in the live set, "rather than just 'Oh god, we need one more song to make it complete'."
One of the reasons the EP works so well is its production quality: the sounds are up-front and three-dimensional, but there are plenty of atmospherics too. Marty oversaw the production side of things, inspired more than a little by Mutt Lange's work on Def Leppard's Hysteria album. It's an influence you can particularly hear on the album's backing vocals and in the little tinges of electronica that drift in and out of the band's live set. "With all these electronica sprinkles we put into it, they all flow into songs, which brings the show up to another level," Mike says. It's not just 'song, rock out, 1-2-3-4, next song." Marty agrees: "It's like creating another world. The way I look at it is, it's not just a show. The songs are like characters in a film. The whole show is like a film, and the songs, the structure of the songs, the interludes - it links everything together."
Next up for Ten Thousand is an appearance at the Rock N Load festival with Electric Mary. "We all like Electric Mary and we were hoping for another chance to play with them," Valentine says. Mike says the band is also looking forward to a more rock-like vibe at Rock N Load, compared to the proggier leanings of the Rock The Bay festival, which they also recently played. "That was a lot of fun! A pretty awesome night! I think we stood out a little on that bill because it was more prog rock, but this is more rock'n'roll."
BY PETER HODGSON
The ROCK N LOAD festival kicks off at The Espy on Saturday May 26 with Electric Mary, Bugdust, The Stiffys, King Of The North, Ten Thousand, Heaven The Axe, I Am Duckeye, The Charge, Anna Salen, Hailmary (WA), Shadowqueen, The Morrisons, Beggars Orchestra (NSW), Shadowgame, Bottle Of Smoke, System Of Venus, Arcane Saints, Apache Medicine Man, The Vendettas, Riot In Toytown and many more. Check out rocknloadfestival.com for lineup and ticketing info.