THUNDERCLAP! is a self-taught singer/songwriter, proficient at most instruments he lays his hands to. He has been writing songs since he was 13, and has been masterminding various rock n' roll outfits since he was 14. Originally from the Niagara region, he has expanded into an international performing artist playing in Lyon, Paris, Berlin, London, and elsewhere across Europe and North America.
THUNDERCLAP’s potent style of performing began on the streets but now has expanded past that to the National and International stage. In 2013 THUNDERCLAP embarked on a 7 city East Coast Canadian Tour with Spooky Ruben . His debut LP entitled "Hell Bent On Success", was produced by Spookey Ruben (Feist, Kei$ha). It also includes notable guests Bob Wiseman (Blue Rodeo), Mary Margaret O'Hara (Miss America) and Dave Clark (Rheostatics)!
More recently, THUNDERCLAP’s holiday radio release “The Ghost of Christmas Past” has been heard from coast to coast on commercial rock airways across the country. A one-man band, he possesses the bravery needed to take the stage alone and believes this heightens the vulnerability of the performer, thus creating a more emotional rapport with the audience. This type of performing, which he likes to call 'guerilla folkestry,’ can be just as powerful when performed at concert or on the street, as THUNDERCLAP does regularly.
THUNDERCLAP prides himself with a 'diverse' subject matter which his lyrical content explores. His background of 'method acting' and the subsequent understanding of human psychology flavoured his already unique approach to composition. What THUNDERCLAP offers in original content, although challenging and trailblazing, is just as equally- hooky and memorable.
"So much fun! It Reminds me of Ray Davies' BEST!"
- Jack Douglas (producer of JOHN LENNON, AEROSMITH)
“Mr. Thunderclap with his humble battle cry is in a dimension of its own”
- Kevin Hearn (Musician - Barenaked Ladies, Lou Reed, Kevin Hearn & Thinbuckle)
"Magically perplexing, obnoxious, and beautiful."
- Spookey Ruben (Ke$sha, Feist)
"Freddie Mercury meets Elvis Presley! A refreshing one-man show that sideswiped our collective expectations and took our breath away! WOW!"
- Indie Week Toronto (judging panel)
“THUNDERCLAP is a highly original tune-maker and rather theatrical singer who accompanies himself on spastically melodic guitar and piano”
- Gene Hughes (Producer, Engineer, Musician - Ron Sexsmith, Mary Margaret O’Hara, The Mahones)
“Thunderclap upon first listen sums up everything I remember that was good about poetry and folk music in the 60’s.”
- Russ Streiner (Actor, Producer - Night of the Living Dead, 1968)
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Written by Shannon Busta
Thunderclap is a young performer from southern Ontario with a unique style and passion for expression. One might not know what to expect from this humble performer with a name like Thunderclap; this writer certainly didn’t.
Hovering near the stage at the cozy Mansion House in St. Catharines last Monday night, the artist seemed nervous, if not apprehensive about his approaching performance. Much to the surprise of those who had not previously experienced all that Thunderclap has to offer, this quiet individual completely disappears once taking the stage.
Thunderclap’s myspace page might lead one to anticipate a cookie cutter folk singer with a guitar and perhaps some interesting or unusual lyrics. Monday night at the Mansion House however, saw folk music taken to entirely new levels and pulled in unusually effective directions.
Packing blue body paint, a blue-checkered blazer, dryer sheets, and a portable heater, I would argue that Thunderclap is less of a traditional singer and more of an actor with undeniable musical intuition. Nothing about this performance was expected, even the disheveled guitar that seemed to be on its last legs, played true to the full-bodied voice offered up by the singer.
You might be wondering...”blue body paint, dryer sheets and portable heater?” So were several members of the audience, myself included.
Thunderclap later explained that the dryer sheets, when attached to the heater fill the room with a comforting smell that reminds the audience of home. This technique stimulates a sense that is so rarely considered during conventional stage performances; Thunderclap certainly challenges conventional notions of live performance.
And the body paint?
“A little voice told me to do it” Thunderclap informed. “The most important reason is humility, it brings me down to the level of desperation...thus, I’m more open to inspiration” he continued. It seems that Thunderclap will not be confined to traditional categories of artistic expression.
Dubbing his style “guerilla folkestry”, Thunderclap offers his audience a unique experience, where acoustic rhythms blend with sometimes soothing, other times surprisingly powerful, vocals interspersed with philosophies on life, comedic explosions of emotion and enlightening sets of original poetry.
The Mansion House in the heart of St. Catharines initially seemed like an excellent location for a one-man performance, though, perhaps other venues would better suit the artist. Thunderclap’s distinctive sense of timing, pitch, emphasis, comedy and drama is something that requires an attentive, quiet and dedicated audience.
Without question there were several instances where the connection between audience and performer was apparent. That being said, the addition of alcohol and the crowd’s somewhat rowdy lack of focus may have detracted from the nature of the performance, which included nearly as much spoken word as song.
Thunderclap is well suited for the pub scene, but would surely do well in a theatre setting, since what he manages to bring to the stage qualifies as so much more than music.
That being said, the quality of the performance was not lost, despite a talkative venue.
The strangely alluring nature of the daring and bold messages in songs like “Sicko”, put this writer in mind of a type of confessional poetry, designed not so much for the entertainment of others as for the creative expression of the artist.
In the song titled “Talking in the Air to You”, Thunderclap blurs the boundaries between a ballad, poetry, stream of consciousness writing and folk music. Much in the way a writer communicates broad themes and messages through the vehicle of a story, so to does Thunderclap, using a dynamic, multi-dimensional stage performance.
Thunderclap presents himself to the world with a compelling degree of creativity and security. There is a somewhat chilling honesty inherent in his work that encourages self-reflection and demands appreciation, if not respect.
Lyrics such as: “lines being drawn between profiting and taking advantage” and “take, take, take...it’s time to pay back” draw attention to issues that effect many of us in a consumer based capitalist society. It is hard not to relate to the messages that linger beneath the surface of the sometimes-unusual lyrics.
As a performer, Thunderclap offers his audience a worthwhile theatrical experience initially disguised as a traditional musical performance. A great deal more than entertainment; a performance by Thunderclap will not be easily forgotten.
Written by Dario Ayala
Friday, April 17, 2009.
In a stuffy downtown St. Catharines bar, a diverse crowd was out on a Friday evening to take part in Niagara's arts festival, In The Soil. Entering the room, the aroma of barley and beer could be felt everywhere. It lingered over every item in the room, from the old hockey memorabilia to the wood-panelled walls and the oversized stuffed animals hanging their limbs over the bar. The location, The Merchant Ale house, a micro-brewery and popular downtown bar, would be the host for this night's series of performances.
I arrived to catch part of the performance by Jakub Zapotoczny, which ended its six-person show with a long rhythmic and percussion-based finale that seemed to mobilize the crowd out of their focused beer-drinking task.
Thunderclap was up next. I saw the sole performer disappear into the basement and re-emerge again with blue paint over his face and bare chest. I suppose the occasion also required certain formalities—he was also wearing a fitted blazer jacket.
“Visual performer,” said the night's program.
Thunderclap made the transition from a sound check to his first performance in a subtle way. Imagine a room full of pint-drinking patrons with a certain sensibility for the arts being caught off guard by guitar-led singing—singing that shifted from melancholic moans to a cacophony of howling and screamed punch-lines.
Ok. It's still a single guy with a guitar, I thought. Yet, it was more than that.
After the first song, Thunderclap dashed out of the room like a bolt of lightning. A string had broken in his guitar and, without any backup-strings or backup acoustics in sight, he had to run to his car to retrieve a much smaller and more humble guitar.
Again, he re-emerged, this time with the blue paint smudged from the sweat caused by running five blocks. I found out later that he managed to expedite his return by hitching a ride in a stranger's car. The performance commenced for the second time.
Playing with his miniature guitar, Thunderclap shot wild-eyed expressions into the crowd. Am I meant to listen passively or engage myself visually with the artist?
I realized by now what I was witnessing. The musical part of his act was like the hook of his performance. His comical delivery and rant-based interludes criticizing society's obsession with profit seemed very appropriate in our times.
Thunderclap, with sweat running down his face and in a slightly out-of breath voice, posed questions like “who are the heroes? And who are the villains?” His rants began sounding like that of a preacher delivering anti-liberalist criticism.
The ethos of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps was one of his themes. As a self-labelled “common man,” Thunderclap continued delivering his message.
The bright flashes caused by cameras seemed like lightning accompanying the artists' thunderous performance. There were a few tables of people that burst out laughing as he delivered some of his lines but, outside of his most immediate audience, his music was being drowned by the roar of the crowd, now much more focused on their foam-less cheap orange beer.
In a room where the audience must be motivated by the repetitive visceral sounds of bass instruments, Thunderclap's delivery fell on a difficult crowd. He did, however, made me believe in his act. I believe that if I could have managed to isolate his music and message from the tumultuous audience, I could have been moved. Instead, I come out asking myself what it must be like to be an entrepreneur pulling himself up by his bootstraps in times like these. I also ask myself why I paid $5.75 for a pint of stale, orange beer.
Written by Gareth Vieira
Thunder not only startles, but it’s something you anticipate and wait for, a rumble to a roar, an early detection of things to come.
The audience at In the Soil on April 15th, 2010, felt the anticipation of things to come as Thunderclap took to the stage with guitar in hand, face painted and outfit a little ruffled, but not weathered, he created an impression for the audience, an image of himself as maybe something of minstrel, a Chaplin like character. The audience received thunderclap with a bit of a laugh, prepared to be entertained, prepared for something out of the ordinary, not your everyday entertainment.
And then the song begins...
“Don't admit to an unhealthy day
That’s when the wolves will come to prey
Don't be afraid to be alone, and when you're young
Move away from home It’s through sacrifice
And strength that you'll lead the way.”
Soon the audience begins to see through the character, learns something about the man on stage and begins to see something of themselves within the words. The originality of the performance is the most breathtaking effect of the show. Not just a musician, not an actor, but as if both collided and became one. Somehow old fashioned entertainment like Sammy Davis, but modern unlike anything being done. It’s like you can hear a pin drop within the laughter and applause.
Sometimes what you receive is not what you had planned, but the outcome is far greater then what you expected. We left wanting more, but satisfied with what we received. We left with the knowledge that this performance was only the beginning, a detection of things to come.
Written by Shannon Busta
Oscar Wilde - a writer renowned for his portrayals of the human condition, once said, “art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known”. Indeed, few people would disagree that individualism is an essential part of artistic expression.
Thunderclap, a talented performer from Chippawa, Ontario – a small community just outside of Niagara – would make Mr. Wilde proud. A creative soul through and through, the performer’s unique style lends itself to all of his artistic endeavors.
Growing up in the Niagara region of Southern Ontario, Thunderclap is unsure of where his drive to maintain any sort of artistic flame or integrity has come from.
On growing up in one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations, the artist claims, “although [Niagara’s] wax museums, arcades, and souvenir shops give it a kooky charm, for most of my life it has been a desolate tourist trap, one void of any culture, or call for culture by its residents”. Nevertheless, Thunderclap, has consistently managed to seek out new creative outlets and maintain his drive for artistic expression.
As a young man interested in performance-based art, Thunderclap turned to music as a form of creative expression. Teaching himself to play guitar at a young age, he has been comfortable with music for much of his life. Also an accomplished pianist, he is currently putting his musical talents to use in conjunction with experiences recently gained while living in the United States.
Feeling a need to escape the region that offered him little encouragement or creative stimulation, the artist chose to move to the one city that is universally known for its artistically stimulating and free culture. Six years ago Thunderclap packed up and moved to New York City, and has been living there on and off ever since. When asked about his choice to leave Canada, the artist nostalgically responds: I went “to live every word of Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’”.
He continues, explaining that Sinatra’s spirit remained close to his heart throughout his time in the Big Apple: “I would find myself romantically singing that song on the New York City streets at night and thinking ‘what would Frank have done if he were in my shoes?’”
Thus, with the intention of gaining exposure, variety and experiencing Sinatra’s New York, Thunderclap took all that the city had to offer and made it his own. Over the span of those six years, he participated in the making of several films – many of these turning into fantastic artistic pieces, despite being produced on shoestring budgets. The most recent of which, finishing production only three months ago, was filmed in New Jersey and focuses on blue collar workers.
Unable to remain permanently in the New York, Thunderclap has frequently returned home to Canada. As a result of his transitory lifestyle, he has personally developed and participated in creative endeavors on both sides of the border, all of which have benefited from his intensely individual character.
Despite his ambitious ventures into acting, music remained an important mode of expression for the artist. In addition to expanding his skills on the silver screen, while in New York he also developed his skills as a solo musical talent. The transition to solo performances has been a growing experience for Thunderclap, who has participated in bands since the age of fourteen.
As it turns out, he had never given much thought to what he could produce on his own. He explains: “when you’re backed up by musicians, you lean on them in many different ways. When you are up there on your own you are completely naked, you have nothing to fall back on. You need a new strength for that”.
A fundamental part of Thunderclap’s experimentation as a solo musician has come in the form of busking. Clearly passionate about the topic, he expresses his love for this versatile and underrated art form: “I started busking early on, from Sault St. Marie to NYC. One of my favorite things to do is to walk around a city, rather than standing in one place on a street corner playing music. I love it. I forget that anyone exists and I just play my set of music – I get the most drastic reactions from people. It’s not uncommon for a few people here and there to tag along my path and follow me, sort of like the pied piper”.
Claiming to be inspired by Houdini himself, Thunderclap says that he has learned a great deal from publicity stunts of the great stage performer. “He would inform each town he traveled to of his upcoming arrival, so people were ready and excited about his show” the artist explains. Unsure of exactly where his walking tours will take him, he does feel they hold the potential for Houdini inspired publicity. “I am really excited to see how I can develop them. I have considered using them as a sort of advertisement, or media hype up before my shows, much like Houdini” he states.
The very people Thunderclap looks to for inspiration serve as evidence of his boldly individual and unique sense of creative expression. Rather than looking to current, more predictable performers, he has chosen to consider one of histories greatest and most distinguished stage presences.
Through his endeavors to develop as a solo artist, Thunderclap has discovered the incredible benefits that come from getting up on stage alone. “The combination of one’s imagination and an instrument is quite compelling, you can hear all the nuances that you wouldn’t be able to hear in a band situation. It can be a lot more compelling and intimate when you are dealing with just one man trying to develop a rapport with an audience”. He is adamant that it is an artist’s ability and desire to develop a certain rapport with his or her audience that makes the difference between truly successful performers and those who simply fade away.
Thunderclap’s ability to self-reflect and self-motivate has led him down a path of growth and discovery as a musician, but also as an individual. “I have very few people to talk to about my life as a performer” he admits, continuing on to claim that writing has helped him understand himself and his relationship with the world.
Witnessing Thunderclap live on stage is an encounter not to be forgotten. The blending of the artist’s undeniable musical intuition and his consideration for his audience makes for an exciting and matchless experience. So much more than a folk artist, Thunderclap has managed to redefine the boundaries traditionally associated with musical performances. When he takes the stage, acoustic rhythms blend with sometimes soothing, other times surprisingly powerful vocals, interspersed with philosophies on life, comedic explosions of emotion and enlightening sets of original poetry.
So what does the future hold in store for Thunderclap? The rising star is currently recording an album and writing songs. He is also considering relocating to Los Angeles in the hopes of gaining more experience and further advancing his career. Whether he leaves the east behind and makes a new life for himself out west, or simply returns to New York, taking his creative and unique performance on the road seems like a fitting choice for a musician-meets-actor with a passion for busking.