ThunderSnail is an Inland Empire legend that formed in 1992 when Tara Tavi and Rick Goosewind began documenting their experiments on a cassette 4-track inside of a haunted Victorian house in downtown Upland. Their songs, which they refer to as “stories,” are composed of Chinese dulcimer, guitar, and vocals—with the later addition of percussion played by Minju Pak.
Recording at home and exploring various sounds and ideas, as well as living in a time and place where Do-It-Yourself culture was thriving (with labels like Shrimper being run out of another bedroom just down the street), ThunderSnail is the ideal model of what being DIY is all about.
Despite the fact that Rick also plays in the weirdo rock group Goosewind, and Tara has played in Amps for Christ, Auto Da Fe, Blue Silk Sutures, and countless other projects, ThunderSnail rarely pokes their head out of their shell for a live performance (Their last one being a Syd Barrett tribute show in 2008).
In 2005 ThunderSnail released a limited hand-packaged cd-r on Folktale Records called “Narcoleptics Acropolis.” This release contained 22 tracks placed in chronological order spanning 1992-1996. That’s when I got to be friends with these guys. Here’s what they said about their reunion:
When and how did ThunderSnail form?
ThunderSnail is the result of a scandalous union between Loki and Goontah The Snail Goddess In Norway during the CrustaceousGastropodicus Age 6.6 million years ago, Just kidding.
Rick: In 1985 I noticed Tara and her friends’ advanced fashion sense, who wouldn’t? My best approximation would be a cool DIY mix of Scottish glam-punk and English deathrock. I was a remedial math student and track star, very into Blue Oyster Cult and Pink Floyd. Some years later I was headlining a show at a local legendary club called Munchies in downtown Pomona. I was standing in the audience enjoying the opening band’s set when Tara tapped me on the shoulder. I remember thinking, ‘Hey cool, Tara finally wants to talk to me’. She promptly asked me to move out of the way so she could film her boyfriend’s band, haha! Later on I slipped a mix cassette tape of Blondie and Die Kruezen into her purse when she wasn’t looking. A week later we were recording ‘BearBear’ on my 4-track in a haunted Victorian house in downtown Upland.
Tara: Rick fed me peanut butter and banana sandwiches and endless Sesame Street on the tiny TV. We were really childish, experimental and inventive. Maybe we were reverting due to other lousy realities. Imagination and sincerity just took free range.
Where did ThunderSnail’s name come from?
Rick: It was actually a name I had come up with for my Fender Twin amplifier after I painted a spiral watercolor design on the front grill. Tara and I began working together, and the name fit our project perfectly.
Tara: Elemental, unfolding and otherworldly.
What has influenced your music?
Rick: The sound of trains, very far away and very late at night combined with the much closer sound of a lone skateboarder passing by as the wheels make that ‘truck click..click truck’ sound when rolling over cracks in the sidewalk.
Tara: Other music is profoundly influential, but I have hard time finding a good comparison with ThunderSnail. Maybe Laurie Anderson “Big Science” cuz we like to tell stories. Sounds that seem disembodied from a source could get collaged in. We loved back masking, detuning and free associative lyrics. The next one is gonna be about sitting in Abe’s Lincoln’s pupil on Mount Rushmore. Actually, lately we’ve been doing weird mash ups. We just like to entertain ourselves really.
Why have your live performances become much less frequent?
Tara: Life and its trappings and distractions. We’re particular, too. The last show we played was a Syd Barrett tribute.
Rick: We live at opposite ends of L.A. County with our loved ones and varying careers. A shared fascination with the sound of 146 strings and their endless combinations bring us together from time to time; hopefully soon cuz I want to tell a joke I just thought of.
Don’t miss the show:
Folktale Records & Sean Carnage present…
*The first 25 people get a free custom-screened CD with an unreleased song by everyone playing
Starts 9pm / $5 / all-ages / Pehrspace—325 Glendale Blvd., in Historic Filipinotown