-- Thorium gets shredded --

Stijn Daneels
One of the bands I looked most forward to at Pluto Metal Fest (December 15, 2018) was the band Thorium. I had already known band members Dario, Stripe and Tom during their time with Ostrogoth. We kept in touch with each other over the years and therefore I was quickly aware of their new music project called Thorium. I also had a great time reviewing their self-titled debut album so it was damn time to sit together with Dario and Stripe to talk about their first album’s production, the band members’ various musical backgrounds (which range from Djent to Bay Area thrash), and how they got signed to two different record labels.

BMS: First off, congratulations on releasing such an awesome debut album! Like I said in my review, the eponymous Thorium album shares a lot of traits with your former band Ostrogoth. An upbeat, melodic and catchy old-school blend of heavy, power and speed metal with several songs discussing historic events. Tell me how this first Thorium album came to be.
Dario: You’re absolutely right about the Ostrogoth vibe you just mentioned. In fact, most of the material on this first Thorium album was originally meant for a new Ostrogoth album. Unfortunately, the other Ostrogoth band members preferred to use different material, so we agreed with them to use these newly written songs for a brand new project, which ended up becoming Thorium. For the record, there’s no bad blood at all between us and Ostrogoth; we respected each other’s decisions and peacefully went our separate ways.
BMS: I’m glad to hear that. What are your future plans?
Dario: We’ve just finished writing songs for the second Thorium album. The new songs will show a natural evolution in Thorium’s sound. Less like Ostrogoth and more its own thing. Still, we’ll be retaining elements from the previous album like the aforementioned catchy cocktail of heavy, speed and power metal, but we’ll also be incorporating more thrash and progressive influences. It’s going to be a more personalized album than the first one, with more variety. Thanks to the larger creative freedom we now have, we can let our own musical backgrounds shine through.
BMS: Tell me something about your individual musical backgrounds, and I’m starting with you, Stripe!
Stripe: Sure thing! I’m always been an 1980s rocker, inspired by the likes of Saxon, Iron Maiden, Helloween and of course WASP. As a bassist I prefer to play a consistent, galloping rhythm similar to those aforementioned bands and so I provide Thorium with that classic heavy metal pace. Our drummer Louis, on the other hand, has a complex style of drumming inspired by Djent and plenty of modern metal, which opens up a lot of possibilities for me to play along to.
Dario: As for me, I’m a huge lover of Bay Area Thrash Metal (think Death Angel, Testament and Exodus). Tom loves classic power metal and all kinds of progressive rock and metal (like Therion, Blind Guardian, Dream Theater, Rush,...). And finally our vocalist David is a classic vocalist inspired by such metal legends as Rob Halford, Udo Dirkschneider and Biff Byford. You know, the fun part of Thorium is that we have a huge musical variety at our disposal. Let’s say I write a track, that song will obviously have Bay Area thrash at its core, but thanks to the influences from the other band members, this particular song gets a unique flavour. And so it goes for every song we write.

BMS: So you aim to be a very multi-faceted band. Sometimes you go the progressive route, other times you go for an old-school vibe. But you’ll always allow a different metal subgenre to sip into the main style of any given Thorium track.
Dario: Exactly! As long as it keeps the adventurous aspect that Thorium will be known for. And that means our songs may look simple and catchy on the surface but when you look a bit deeper you’ll notice how complex a typical Thorium song can be.
BMS: Very interesting! Now, despite your recent beginnings you’ve already visited countries like the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.
Dario: Yeah, it was a delightful experience and next year we’ll be hitting the road once more with a headline show in the Czech Republic and one in the UK, among many other gigs. We’ll also be hitting the studio again to record our next album, scheduled for release in 2020. Our main goal for the next few years is to tour as much as we can while also consistently working on new material. Me and the guys want to escape Ostrogoth’s shadow and stand as a proud and strong Belgian band with its own personality.
BMS: Keeping up the momentum, I like it!
Stripe: One thing I love about Thorium’s career path thus far is how well our music connects to people from various countries and cultures. I recall during our little Spanish tour that certain folks in the crowd were joyfully singing along to our songs despite the fact that our album was only a few weeks old. It’s such a satisfying feeling, to see and hear people love your music as much as you love writing and performing it.
BMS: Yeah, it’s great to love and to be loved in return! Now, what other things do you have in life aside from Thorium?
Stripe: I’m the frontman of my own tribute band called WASB, not hard to see what iconic rock band I’m covering there. Not much else aside from that, I currently focus my efforts on making Thorium a success.
Dario: I also have a cover band; mine is called STS Cover Band and covers famous pop rock songs from the likes of Robbie Williams, Queen, Toto and the Simple Minds. But like Stripe and the other guys in the band, I dedicate most of my time to Thorium. I believe it’s better to keep yourself focused on one band and make the most of it, rather than playing in three or more bands at once in the hopes that one of them will eventually become successful.
BMS: I agree, putting your eggs in too many baskets at once is never a good thing. Now tell me, currently you’re signed on two record labels. Empire Records takes care of your physical releases and Rock N’ Growl handles the digital distribution. How did you make it to those labels?
Dario: As you know, Empire Records is a Belgian record company with a small but high-quality roster of bands (the label released material from high-profile Benelux bands like the Evil Invaders, Distillator and Evil Shepherd). The 2015 Ostrogoth album, “Last Tribe Standing,” was released through Empire Records and aside from playing guitar on that release I was also very involved in that album’s distribution. Although a few other underground labels had shown interest in releasing our debut album, we decided from day one that we would be working with Empire Records because of the good experiences we had with them in the past. Plus they always print vinyl versions of all their releases and I really wanted a vinyl version of the Thorium album to add to my large LP collection. As for Rock N’ Growl, we really needed a good company that could take care of the digital distribution, such as streaming, etc. They showed interest and made us a great offer, so we didn’t hesitate for one second in making a deal with them.
BMS: All right, I’ve got nothing else to say. You wish to add something to this fun little shred?
Dario: Thanks for sitting together with us! We look forward to playing tonight’s show as well as the many other gigs we’re planning to do next year!
Stripe: Ditto! See you later, Shredder!