I have a heart to heart chat with Ian Thornley about how hard being a pro vocalist at his level really is! How learning and hard work is a must to establish and maintain a career. Thanks to Ian for doing the interview with me (thanks man!!) and to Big Wrecks manager Rian Balloch of Skware Eyes Collaborative for sending over the video and images. https://www.bigwreckmusic.com/
hi I’m Mitch Seekins the vocal coach welcome to my Sing Like A Pro Interview Series where you hear from the professionals themselves, what it takes to do what they do – this episode features Ian Thornley from Big Wreck!
I had the pleasure to work with Ian in 2016 – 2017. He came to me with concerns about some issues that were beginning to show up in his voice. Being a big fan of his spectacular vocals and music I was honored to help out.
In this heartfelt interview what I would like everyone to take away from this is even with the talent and skills and love for what he does even Ian Thornley can have a hard time with things… and if you are on a similar path of building or maintaining a career, take solace in knowing that you’re not alone with the struggles. It’s all part of the journey.
How you doing man? I’m doing all right I’m doing all right
A little foggy today it was a late one last night but uh you know I’m late for me nowadays anything past midnight is just um and we went we went a little past midnight because there was a as i was telling you earlier there were some technical difficulties um that uh unforeseen and they and it caused us to run late but we got our work done and uh yeah back at it today good yeah
thanks for doing this it’s no problem of course it’s um you know like i was telling you I’m trying to just do a series of interviews of people at your level and just get the information on what it actually takes to do what you guys do you know because a lot of people don’t understand you know what the mindset is and how everything kind of flows
well I think mindset is a good is a good uh window to go through um to get into it but you know my mindset has changed drastically you know throughout I’ve been doing this a while yeah and uh initially I I was dead set against even having a mindset because that wouldn’t be authentic enough and that wouldn’t be real you know whatever conversation I had going back then um so things like warming up and whatnot like and I’ve told the story before I probably told you but uh like Miles (Kennedy) was the first guy I ever saw warm up his voice right we were on tour together in 98 or 99 right um and yeah he was always like an hour before they went on like where did Miles go uh and he was he was in the van like in the passenger seat of the van do you want to make all these weird noises and I’m like what are you doing in there and then of course he gets on stage and does what he does right and i was just like holy [ __ ] um and it was really like well he does what he does and i do what i do you know i can’t i don’t um and that’s a you know that’s kind of a coward’s way out because i was still i was still getting on stage and having a great night or having a [ __ ] night and not really knowing vocally why like even if i was in good voice and good health um you get on stage and sometimes it’s just it just you’re working hard for stuff and i had no idea why um and a lot of it sort of through the years that aspect of just sort of you know well that doesn’t feel like it like it should yeah and then just kind of learning sort of physically how things should feel and then getting a lot of the pointers from Miles along the way you know sort of every five or six years give a give a little tip for a little you know things like that and i would take him to heart and i would you know at one point he gave me a recording of his vocal lesson that he had had with uh i think was Ron Anderson and just a lot of the stuff that they were going over in a lot of this sort of vernacular and it all just kind of started to resonate you know no pun intended but it also it kind of it just started to make sense um and then i started to warm up a little more um and take it a little more seriously right um because i mean it only takes one and i’ve had a few but one really bad night and i you know i can remember as we’ve all had them um probably not you but like your version of a bad habit is coming off fantastic but this was like this was something other i we were it was like a super bowl thing it was in town in toronto yeah uh and i’d come down with something and i was like it was and it was just getting progressively worse throughout the day and i was like oh no well i’m like taking this taking that and just like anything to sort of keep it from you know getting in the way yeah and it was a short and it was like a half-time thing so it was a shortened set i think we only played five songs or something um and i get into the first song and and i’m like okay i’m really trying to take it easy this is before you and i had met right like for several years um and i’m sort of taking it easy but you know there’s some higher notes that you can push and i think it was so far so good or something like that where whereas then you can lean into them a bit and i was like oh it’s there it’s there i’m good so the first two songs great and then it was albatross was the next one which was which is like requires a different kind of i and i wouldn’t have known back then and i still probably wouldn’t know but i don’t try to sing that one super hard it’s just it’s supposed to be a little cleaner and yeah a little more singier it’s not shouting you’re not yelling yeah um and i and i honestly i would open my mouth and i didn’t know what was going to come out yeah and this is like right from the from the intro which is not particularly challenging and i was like why is that note oh my god and then you kind of have to readjust and then i know i want to sing a c sharp here and you know put x it’s just nothing was where it should be yeah and then of course you know that you get into the to the higher parts um and and it’s a pretty naked intro man like that’s pretty like this is just a guitar or two and a vocal that’s going up to high b’s and stuff and it um yeah and and it was horrible you know and it crushed me like i i went home that night and I sat by myself for a while you know just like am i cut out for this should i be doing this like maybe all those years ago when we were looking for a singer that was the right call it was that bad um i know and then and then yeah and then it just again i probably reached out to miles after that like dude you know and maybe that’s when when he gave me that tape and it was just a lot of a lot of the things that you and i do yeah um but obviously i’m i’m sort of a fly on the wall and don’t really know i’m just sort of grabbing things here and there and doing my own thing with it like that’s got to be what they’re talking about that kind of thing i know um but then when you and i met it was like okay and i still reach out to you when i’m on the road and i get sick how am i gonna get through this dude um because it because it i mean i’d still go back to that place where where you open your mouth and you don’t know what’s going to come out and there’s not a worse feeling in the world man people call singers this and they’re that and um but it really is it’s terrifying and you and your yeah you’re at the whim of whatever is going on in here and i you know so as much control as as you can gain over it like that’s what sort of where my mindset is now is is that it’s like well i want to make i want to cut like a bad night i want it to still be passable that’s right you know and it’s brutal for me and it’s really you know difficult and it’s exhausting because especially when you’re sick and you’re trying to navigate through a lot of these songs that we have and uh which are not easy to sing none of them well so i mean if you’re in good voice and you’re relaxed and you’re and you’re and you’re warmed up it’s not hard um it’s fun it and can be fun you know when you when you go for something high and you pin it and then it’s like what there’s so much gas in the tank right now i really want to lean into this you can just put more you know and i love that but when it’s not there it’s exhausting because it’s you’re you’re you know you know it’s a high wire act yeah it is you know like with the you know with the the master class that i do at the beginning of everybody who studies with me we talked about the psychological end of things yeah and you know the the amount of stress the physical stress and the emotional stress the emotional trauma that a singer experiences this is horrible it can be horrible it’s not elating like when you nail it better you know yeah maybe you know playing guitar the way you do when you nail something well that’s going to give you the same response but having you know the body as the instrument your body has the instrument it just there’s something about it you know um when uh you know so you didn’t start out as a vocalist right no no no heavens no you were you were a keyboardist first as i saw it posted on instagram yeah when i i started i started on piano and quickly moved into synthesizers and stuff like that i was in i was in a band when i was started in eighth grade eighth eighth and ninth grade i was playing in a pop band around town nice and i was a little synth dude um which is a great experience for me and uh you know they were all all the other people in the band were were much older and and sort of seasoned and uh have gone on to do some great things but but i i yeah and then and then i eventually have found my way to guitar um and i i don’t know that the sort of immediacy of that connection was was
i did just it just brought me to a different place than than piano did yeah um you know it’s all music but yeah i think that the connection to it i don’t know i still i i still play every day and if i can all day every day yeah it’s one of those lifelong obsessions but yeah um yeah and then i i went to school i went to berkeley for three years um with guitar as my my instrument um and again you know that’s not going to make you a great guitar player but it’s a great place to you know there’s all these other like-minded kids who are who are chasing the same kind of thing even if it’s very different yeah um and it was all about what’s up it was all jazz right yeah yeah i mean they used jazz as the sort of curriculum to right to explain things you know that and a lot of the sort of stuff that i’ve been sticking around with on guitar and you know i already started writing and coming up with bits that i liked and fitting them together and you know sort of reverse engineering a lot of the stuff that i couldn’t figure out um i mean at berkeley would give you the names of those things which just it just helps expediate the process of a lot of things yeah yeah um and also open your mind to different different directions like different different possibilities of what you can yeah oh for sure i’ll never knock um you know schooling yourself on you know it’s not keeping it real or anything like that i i think that’s that’s garbage like the truth is like it like the more you learn the the further you will go and then the more you learn to re you realize that how much further you have to go and then it just never ends it’s just a i know you know it’s a dog in his chair chasing his tail kind of deal because it you never you never arrive i’ve never i haven’t arrived um but yeah and then with vocals it was it was a and i’ve told this story many times too we we were looking for a singer for a while and that’s hard man you know especially if i was going to be the the primary writer um
yeah it was it was it was really hard and people don’t you know obviously not everybody thinks the way you do about you know this is how this should go this should move like this and and just those things and i’m using a very base level yeah example here but and there was just people that just wouldn’t fit and so much of great great singers and great musicians and it just wasn’t quite jealous or um you know one of the other guys in the band didn’t get along with it whatever it was we tried and tried and then i there was an adventure there eventually got to a there was a [ __ ] moment like you know and i think it was brian and i was just like dude [ __ ] it you sing and i eventually would say brian brian oh brian did yeah it would have been him and i think the other guys were encouraging me to do so as well yeah um but i think you know brian and i like brian was sort of like my big brother at the time like he was he was slightly older than me and yeah um yeah i know like if he if he if i would sing on a demo and and if he if he said it sounded cool then it’d be like all right you know really sort of seeking his approval but uh yeah i eventually had just kind of jumped in um not knowing anything about that you know my my version of learning how was was just doing it right yeah yeah um i mean i was i was the same as well and most people are when they you know when they start out it’s just kind of like okay let’s just yeah see what happens you know see what happens um were there any influences that that uh that you have to kind of go yeah i mean yeah well in this vocally not really um because i would just kind of like well those that you know what Freddie mercury does is magic and what jeff buckley does is magic and i can’t i’m not a magician you know i’m just a guitar player who’s singing right i still have that mentality too right right um then i heard phil collins and said that he says i’m not a singer who plays some drums i am a drummer who does singing and i i’m like that’s how i feel yeah yeah but i not i don’t think i i don’t think i there was never anything i was shooting for right um until like later on when when uh i started to mess around with range and and going higher and you can probably speak to this better than i can but i’ve always been of the mind that you’re you get what you get you know yeah you can probably grow your range and and there’s things you can do to to get higher and lower and and maintain a good tone but um i think the the actual sound of it i mean you can’t change this and this and all the things that that make the noise you can’t i can’t change it yeah um so it’s like as much as i would want to sound like robert plant or bb king or even joe strummer or all these guys who i just have these voices that that get into me yeah um i end up just sounding like me or is it people always say oh it’s chris cornell i’m like that and you know what that’s that’s great because he’s awesome so um yeah yeah he was and i mean you know i can i can i can see why people say that it’s the same kind of tonal quality you guys don’t sing you don’t sing the same but the the tonal quality is similar yeah i guess i don’t hear you you know like there was there was a a time when it was you know i guess it was the early 90s and uh and that the whole grunge in seattle thing happened and a lot of it really affected me because i because i’m such a big zepp guy yeah and i’m such a big who and and a lot of it seemed like it came directly from that um and like pearl jam had a huge impact on me right um just and it was like it was just the whole thing that that that got me right yeah yeah it wasn’t like all the way eddie does this or the way you know stone does that it was just the whole thing i was like i got it um because and and i i later you know i think it’s i think it’s just because it feels like they mean it you know it feels like eddie means it um and then of course shortly thereafter every singer that would come out of the woodwork had the r thing that lance daley were doing to her thing and i you know i even i even [ __ ] with it a bit of a demo yeah and i remember hearing the back going nope that’s not me and i had a discussion with a good friend of mine who’s a wonderful singer uh danny graves i mean years ago we had this conversation about those kind of singers that are guys yeah um and he’s like yeah it’s a crutch it’s a it’s like an easy way to get your pitch and it’s and it’s an easy way to sound like i mean it man yeah and as like you see the people who are doing it tend to forget that like eddie and lane actually did [ __ ] mean it like that’s yeah that was real and and you know i don’t think he does it anymore eddie but uh you know whatever he’s such a great um and chris the same thing like I wasn’t as much into soundgarden uh because i think they were sort of more sabbath derived that sort of really uh low-tuned heavy dirty thing which i know big rec is known for um but it you know that would have been a brian influencing me and my musical taste but him bringing in kings x him bringing in sound garden and stuff like that and then i i went through a period where i just loved soundgarden um yeah and it’s just yeah but i and i’m sure all that you know i think you are what you eat so all those influences that they’re gonna come in but you know like we’re saying earlier i still open my mouth and i don’t sound like like the guy i’m trying to sound like it’s just not possible yeah yeah yeah i want to be steve perry like who doesn’t want to be who doesn’t want that voice you know um like there’s so many great voices that uh and it’s and i’m not just talking like technique it licks and listen to the control i just mean the tone the sound that’s right yeah that’s right like there’s nothing better than than rock the casbah and london calling like joe strummer i believe every word that guy says yeah and and the sound of his voice just it just sounds like he’s emptying the tank for you and that’s what he’s doing so yeah um so by the time the first record came how how long it was was it were you guys kind of working for a couple years before you did the first record like um yeah i guess like
like we started maybe 90 maybe 94.95 we started to you know put demos together and dick around with stuff uh but as far as um
as far as doing a like calling it a band i don’t really know when that but it was it wasn’t that long um of a time from when we really started to okay let’s do this yeah until it was like okay well now we’re we’re looking at getting signed with atlantic and we’re going to do this it wasn’t that long right um and certainly not enough time for me to because the first time i went in to do vocals on what would eventually become the album like the first album was was two made from two different sessions that were demo sessions those are the demos that were that were turned into the record and i still remember the first of those sessions i think it was three sessions actually but but from the one that we didn’t do at presents i don’t think we used anything maybe we used to fall through the cracks or something like that um but i i still distinctly remember like putting it off and putting in the vocals and putting it off i still do that like it’s always the last thing um and i remember stepping up to the mic and then and then hearing you know my voice going through it i think it was an 87 into an orange county and then they you know fed it fed me a little bit of delay or reverb and i was just like oh man this is and then and then you know once you get past that sort of initial whatever then it’s like okay i can play with this and it doesn’t sound stupid you know and i’m looking through the glass and it’s like i don’t see brian going oh you know yeah of course the day of doing this it was it was you know they were like it was encouraging and that’s sort of the mental game like once you get out of your own way then it’s like okay what can we do yeah you know and i didn’t know about i didn’t know how high i could go i didn’t really mess around up there and you can hear it on the first record there’s a couple of high notes but they’re just stuff where you’re yeah there’s some harmonies and stuff i’m just like oh i can do it i didn’t i didn’t know if i had a ceiling i didn’t i didn’t really dick around up there but as far as singing hard and getting uh some grit on the sound i would just push you know yeah which is not good like i remember i remember after i did the vocal for overemphasizing i was like that’s probably not a good idea to do that like that every night you know like yeah you know we could maybe get into that too but i see i tend to sing differently live um slightly than i would in the studio you know yeah but if i especially if it’s a friday it’s a friday night we’re not going in saturday and sunday um for some of the rocky or more you know grittier parts then i’ll actually do something that’s probably not healthy and probably not good for my throat just to get the sound yeah um because because there’s that sound of a voice just on the brink where it’s like they’re doing damage i love that you know yeah i love that noise so i i sometimes it’s the only way to get it is just to you know you’re good and warmed up and you’re loose and i’m singing all day and everything’s great it’s like okay well let’s circle back to that thing i’m gonna have another stab at that yeah you know the ridiculously high and hard and then and then you you leave leave the studio you know sort of with a whisper it’s like yeah well done
part of it is is knowing okay i can do this because i know i’ve got like two or three days off yeah yeah live i don’t get that live i don’t yet you don’t get that i mean my my regimen uh when we’re on tours is a lot more strict than it is in the studio like in the studio i i i always i’ll make sure that i’m loose and i’ll stretch um i’ll stretch it out and try to clean out you know especially if it’s cold um try to have everything cleaned out and um yeah and then i’ll just i’ll just kind of start in with the song you know this sort of like lightly singing it to myself you know um and just how i’m gonna approach certain lines i’m gonna approach certain things um and then again it’s the same thing as when it was when i first did it once the headphones come on it’s like okay now you’re now in this box and now you know what you can work with and what you can do yeah yeah and as i’ve gotten older oddly enough this is another thing we’ve talked about it’s like i feel like my range has grown like my box has gotten bigger my trick bag is bigger but i feel like just vocally i’m i’m able to do stuff with a lot more ease and i have a lot more control over it but stuff that i would never even attempted 20 years ago yeah i know because it like i think we talked about that the human male voice doesn’t mature until about the age of 35 and then you’ve got this window of being in your vocal prime until you’re about 70. so right in that time all the bottom end comes in the top end uh just gets clarified a little more um stable yeah everything just sits bigger you know um my balls dropped what’s that my balls finally dropped when i was 35.
exactly exactly i’d my uh you know my my uh a’s a flats g’s and and i’ve even got f sharps now uh you know when i was 25 there was i wasn’t singing below you know the b flat like i mean that’s that’s pushing it but and it’s so funny you know it it is it’s just genetics in that first record because it you know to to to my ear and to everybody’s ear there is definitely a big wreck sound there’s definitely an ian thornley sound and that’s just you kind of opening your mouth and kind of doing what you do so there wasn’t really much thought it was an organic kind of thing yeah and and and that early on it was just a lot of it was a lot of feeling things out and i mean there has to be a certain amount of trust for me back then there had to be like
you know like no no cracking jokes while i’m doing this right because i’ll just [ __ ] leave like i was i was that like a don’t know like try i’d have the lights off in the live room where i was like i’d make sure that the lights were off yeah keep the lights on in the control room like it was that kind of thing yeah literally like i was that i was that you know in my head yeah and then once you once you get into it and you get some encouragement then the rest of it was yeah it was just sort of you know what sounds cool and then you just sort of lean off the mic and look in um and if they’re high five and then it’s like okay let’s do that then that’ll work yeah and back then of course everything was on tape so you just start at the beginning and go to the end anything you want to fix okay let’s go in there any ideas for doubles or harmonies or anything we got an extra track yeah so um yeah all that stuff was very you know and i was 23 or whatever like i was i was i was young um but yeah you know it’s very different now i just i still but like i said i still put the vocals off till till the end yeah and then once i get into it i really i really do enjoy it i really do like i’ve come to enjoy it a lot and then you know yeah yeah so when you’re when you’re uh working on tunes and i actually want to give a shout out to a student of mine his name is uh cody uh kerrigan he’s um he’s working on his phd for uh composition and he he was wanting me to ask um you know um as he’s a he’s a big fan how much play you do when you when you write a song you start with a guitar lick and then add vocals to that or is there a melody that comes out and you try to write something and how much do the vocals change from the inception to the final product is it a lot of experimentation in the studio yeah yeah there is to the latter i i generally it starts from from the music first um sometimes sometimes the whole thing falls in your lap and those are the good ones those are those are the lucky the lucky ones you don’t have to slug it out but but generally speaking it starts from it starts from the music first and i already like i will start putting the picture together in my mind as i’m as i’m piecing the music together or as i’m going through it i’ll have something in my i know where my in is you know so you know what depending on the mood and depending on the key and depending on all these different factors it’ll just so it tells me like your voice is going to go in here right um and sometimes as you know i’m sure like sometimes you just open your mouth and and something comes out here like and you get and you get um goosebumps it’s like that’s that’s my end that’s my spot yeah and then yeah and then you start flushing out melodies and and it tells me you know and then it’ll tell me what the words are what the story’s going to be and and it really you know you’re just sort of you’re just sort of rummaging through and clearing away dust and it’s like okay i see this now sometimes it’s it’s um it goes against the grain of the music and sometimes it is right in lockstep with the music and all those all those different factors that um obviously they’re all choices that are formed by your taste um and your influences and all the stuff that you love yeah um but but all of those you know i i like like we said earlier i think just getting out of your own way and getting out of your head and letting that letting the music tell you what it what it wants where it wants to go and every once in a while you know and i can hear it in our stuff and sometimes i can hear it in other bands and artists as well when when there’s sometimes there’s a moment where there’s a choice where the writer said i’m going to throw this thing in here yeah and it’s and there’s something um sort of cosmically jarring about it a little bit sometimes that’s the intention and when i do it that’s usually what i’m like i’m going to throw in a bar of three those kind of things they’re they’re conscious moves yeah um you know as opposed to a riff that sort of fell out and it happens to be in seven that’s different you know all these things are um they’re all sort of tools that you’re at your disposal and then when it comes to doing the vocal i usually i’ll start with with just scatting because i know where the melodies are going to go um and then as the words start to emerge and sometimes those are just like boom there’s a there’s a story the story in the song and it’s um yeah and then sometimes some some some of them come easily and some of them are are like nope like i have a couple songs every record that that just you know kicked my ass and i’m like nope and i’m rewriting and rewriting and it’s like maybe it’s maybe it’s my melodies maybe i’m too choppy with the with the melody and it should just be one soaring long you know and then it’s like well if i do that i gotta change the whole narrative i gotta change the whole story because you know this word fits great but it doesn’t make any sense with you know all these things it um i think that can be a dragon it can be very draining uh and it’s one of those things i can you know very rarely in those situations do i know that i’ve got it right because it’s not because it didn’t tell me i’m still kind of telling it well this is this is the right way and this is looking around the room going right right right um as opposed to like when you have the the two speakers are just saying yep you got it yeah um yeah and then and then you just put on way too many tracks with vocal way too many tracks of guitar and uh you know start cutting it down call it yeah yeah uh how do you how do you prep for uh you know to to do a record vocally how do you how do you do do you do you start saying because i mean you got to be in shape right you’re going to be vocally in shape if you’re putting you know stuff you know committing to stuff on on a record you you don’t want to be okay well i’m a little rusty like you want to be in shape for sure because you know studio is one thing touring is a is a different animal like it’s a different thing you know what what is it you do um i mean generally speaking into the processes were when i finished pre-production or demoing like um
i know okay by then there’s still a lot of singing right it’s not it’s not super it’s not as honed in is where i’m gonna want it but um i don’t even having said that sometimes it is like some of the demos that we’ve done over the years have just been like well that’s good enough to be on the record yeah because it’s just it’s just so flushed out yeah um but it but yeah i mean generally it’s it’s going to be pretty close to you know game ready and then and then you know i’ll do i’ll do warm-ups and it’s usually the first the first song sometimes it like i’ll circle back or ratzy would be like we want to circle back and um you know sometimes i have to circle back and try the first first verse again you know once i’m yeah but but yeah and sometimes it’s the song you know uh you want to start with something that’s not too challenging and that doesn’t you know where you’re not reaching for the stars and i’m trying to and trying to play around up there yeah it’s one thing to just squeeze a high note out as hard as you can but it’s another thing to actually sing it and yeah you know play with it yeah and um well yeah i did you know a lot of the stuff that you’ve taught me is is all comes in handy there like that’ll that’ll set me up and you know even when if i’m in the shower and i have to sing i’m i’m doing lip rolls good and i i find it even this morning i did it and it i just find it set it sets my voice up right for the day and that’s not i’m not when i start warming up before a show or or to sing in the studio i’m not um yeah from scratch yeah and i don’t know what that does maybe that’s just a psycho psychological thing for me and um
it gets everything moving it gets the blood flowing because it’s a physical instrument you know um so you just you just got to get things working that’s all yeah you just get it moving i just it’s kind of like it’s like a muscle it’s like stretching this or that’s right exactly any anything that you’re it’s one of those um anything you know i’m still i’m getting over some kind of cold that i had last week it wasn’t the cove um somehow i managed to i managed to bob and weave i don’t know how i haven’t got it i’m still having but yeah and and even that like when i’m when i’m sick that’s one another one of the times when i’ll i’ll be i’ll be just doing just doing lip rolls not like writing whole scales or arpeggios or anything but just you know going up into head and then coming down and going back up just to see where i’m at and it and honestly it just it sets my voice in a in a more relaxed stable even for even speaking right like even um and yeah i think you know like anything else if it’s not working it’s not working um and and that that’s happened sometime not not so much in the last few years but there have been times where i’m like it’s not in it’s not there today yeah it is it is a physical like a a human instrument and yeah it is tied uh like you were saying you know with with training the the goal is to you know bad days you know are up here as opposed to you know 20 years ago or 10 years ago where bad days may have been down here you know it’s a much narrower performance uh ratio you know you’re not you’re not swinging from here to here yeah and and that helps you psychologically as well knowing that you can for sure you can sing through stuff 100 in in terms of you know vocal recovery um is there ways that you deal with it now than you know that have changed from from before i mean um yeah i mean not really um i’ll try to i’ll try not to speak so much if yeah and especially when you’re not when you’re feeling a little under the weather um that’s when i really notice it yeah because like sometimes it’ll be i’ll have a cold and there’s a couple of days where it’s like you know i still have to do the gig or you know i don’t want to do but but there’s going to be a couple of days where it’s almost impossible and then on either side of that there it’s like okay i can work i can make this work yeah um and i still make the mistake of apologizing to the audience because it’s like [ __ ] letting them down um but it but it but yeah i can still make it work the tone is still there and the range in the you know but but you know maybe the longevity is not there or whatever it is um but after after that show like i’ll be on the bus and i’ll sound like sam elliott like it’s just fried yeah and that’s when you know that’s what i need the most you know tea and all of that and and sleep and and clean yeah little humidifiers for the bunk and all those things that that’ll that’ll get you through yeah yeah and you know the humidifier thing is so important a lot of people don’t advocate we need to get a sponsorship from advil colton science too i know that stuff like especially paul i think it was paulo that initially hit me to it but i was like man this stuff is like let’s just save my ass i know just clears everything out and so of course we’re always chugging water so i’m not worried about dehydrating which i think actual cold sinus does it just dries everything out but it’s like if you’re slamming water you know you’re you’re in good shape yeah i got dave onto it like if he’s not you feeling a little a little rough and dave’s doing a lot of singing nowadays and [ __ ] great sounds fantastic great um and he’s just i mean he’ll just take a couple of advil cold science a couple hours before the show and it’s like you know it just gets you through yeah yeah the only thing uh i think you need to be cognizant with that stuff is is if you’re really bad and you take it um it can uh it can accelerate damaging stuff
yeah yeah yeah i’m sure but i you know for me it’s uh you know and sometimes it’s even it’s just a a psychological thing you know i’ve had a long flight yeah the day of the show which sucks and you get out and you’re just like i do what’s i’m snotty and oh something’s never something’s all right something’s not right i have a cold science no i’m just bad yeah okay i feel great it’s gonna be a good show yeah and another thing that’s actually good for that uh is nasal rinsing uh i used to have the neti pot thing yeah yeah can’t do that no not not
you know the ones that you see in the tv commercial
yeah yeah all right
when i was doing shows you know what maybe i’ll get one of those you know well it is what all that bugs about very very uncomfortable thing to yeah to work on um uh so we worked together on you know 2016-2017 um is there anything that stands out on the stuff that we did that that really really made a difference uh just either in the consistency or the way yeah things yeah i think uh i think consistency 100 like that that is something that um i don’t think anything’s really changed tonally but i think it i i know that i know that it’s maintained and i’m sure that that that’s large part and due to working with you um um but nice and and i think again like i was saying about going to school it’s like just learning things and just it demystifies a lot of it yeah so yeah and there’s a lot of things about it that i’ve never even like the diaphragmatic stuff is something i’ve never even you know i think miles tried to explain it to me once and i was like okay that’s that’s that’s for that’s for advanced that’s not that’s
and that’s something that i still i still um it’s still going up going on in the back of my mind while i’m singing and doing some of the more challenging parts um all those things it’s just that yeah there’s a there’s a there’s a confidence that comes with um knowing you’ve got an 80 chance as opposed to a 40 chance of nailing it yeah you know and and especially if you’re a good voice then it’s almost it’s almost best when um the the the conversation isn’t there at all because i’m just like well i’m in i’m in good shape here and and everything’s flowing and everything feels great and if you just check in with yourself every now and then how much and then just and all that all that diaphragmatic stuff which is mechanic and sometimes i i’ll trip onto it accidentally where i i didn’t i yeah yeah and then and then i’m just like i could sing this note for four minutes like it just yeah um but yeah you know all of it is just has helped me tremendously you know i don’t think uh i’m sure i’d be in a different and that my voice would sound different than it does had it not been for meeting you and i it’s just like there’s no way to maintain especially the style of music we do the style that i do and and um you know how to avoid the certain pitfalls like uh because i you know i get swept up in in the moment all the time every night it happens to me every night i’ll get swept up and i’m like i’m going for this and i’m emptying the tank on this one note yeah and and it’s like my version of that now is just like let’s save some for the end of the song you know like lean into it and make it make it great but but let’s see let’s you know yeah and then we also have the other 40 dates to worry about after this so let’s you know that’s right it breaks there yeah but all of it has helped yeah the interesting thing with you is um you know through all the stages that i work with the the big one the final one is something called blending and you had that naturally in your voice you you had found your way to it which is how you do all that that top end stuff but we what you didn’t have was the support and it was as you as you you know get older just like just like anything i i can’t work out like i did when i was 30 i just i can’t yeah you know and it’s the same thing with the voice even though you’re in you know that vocal prime the recovery time as you age just just increases so once we establish the you know the the the support the diaphragmatic stuff with you it just kind of started connecting all that those mechanics together and um because the one thing that you know i don’t change people’s voices i you know you can change the sound that that’s not what i do i show people how to do what they do because that’s what sells records for them um in a healthy way so they they have the ability to do a 40-show tour without tearing themselves apart yeah that’s what was interesting with you because you had the majority of it naturally which is very rare just adding that that piece on just yeah it was everything for you yeah it really did it really did and i still you know as you know um you get sick on the road and like oh you’re going to be one of my first calls which help [ __ ] i remember the first show the last big tour it’s the first show we’re in boston i don’t have a voice yeah and it’s just simply how you warm up and even then like you know there’s a certain way of warming up but it doesn’t mean that that case could be fun yeah it’s still gonna be a lot of work but at least hopefully you can get through it yeah that’s the major thing do you have any you know like personal tips that you would you know give to young singers or you know people coming up and i wouldn’t i wouldn’t presume to even you know i wouldn’t know where to begin like yeah one of the things that i that i tend to do early in a tour and again this is all prefaced with it but if i’m in good voice and good health um once my voice is ready once it’s there after warming up and i tend to warm up too long a lot of the time and i’ve that’s something i’ve been sort of staying cognizant of in the last couple of years right um because sometimes i just you know save some for the show man you know but you know it’s like it’s like blowing all your good ideas and sound check it’s like well there’s some part of your mind that’s like well i’ve already been there i’ve already been you’re going off in some huge solo you miss all the all the gold because you’re like i’ve already been there it was like nobody was there to see it so yeah no you haven’t yeah but but yeah as far as the warm-up goes one thing that i’ll do early in a in a tour and sometimes it you know sometimes the whole way through but and depending on what we’re starting with the first song that we’re starting with um is once i’m warmed up and everything’s there and i’m i’m good it’s all i’ll give a couple of blasts
before we go on just to see just to see yeah and just to see if the you know the the sort of grit and that that whatever the thing is that when you’re singing certain parts and you want that sound um i’ll give a couple of blasts just to make sure you know i don’t want to i don’t want to do too many because yeah like that you get you got to be yeah be careful with those there’s a there’s a finite number yeah yeah exactly and a lot of it is you know if you you know if you include that in part of the warm-up schedule and you know like do you do that right before you go on or do you do that and then give the voice a a chance to to rest literally like five or ten minutes and then then not even like when i’m tired when i say blast like i’m singing along with the intro while we’re side stage oh okay yeah yeah yeah and i’m just doing light and light and light and keeping it just really light flexible and then and then i’ll i’ll give a couple of a couple of roars like just just to make sure that it’s in there you know yeah not too many not too much but then then of course you know there’s another three or four minutes before i have to start singing and i’m you know i’m fine but right right right and i don’t need i don’t even know if that’s helpful i just i don’t really as far as [ __ ] me giving advice you know i just just do do whatever whatever comes out of your mouth is that’s that’s you and then just work on it you know make it better don’t don’t do it for if you don’t if you’re not comfortable then you know sit on the end of your bed with your guitar or your piano and work on it until you feel it’s good enough yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah i i don’t know what else to do do you find you you up your water intake uh before a tour before sessions or do you just maintain hydration the whole time because that that’s a good one for most because most people don’t drink water in the early days i mean we drank everything but water and a lot of it you know nowadays i yeah i tend to i’m pretty hydrated man i tend to drink a lot of water and biosteel love that stuff i just like i’ll i’ll stay really really hydrated and i’m sure that’s i’m sure that’s helpful it’s a huge factor and pairing that with the you know with the humidifier because you know a lot of thing that a lot of things that people don’t understand is that you know that saying you know if you have a cold you drink lots of fluids and get plenty of sleep well part of that is that when you drink lots of fluids you keep all the mucus that your body produces thin and you can move it right so if you just stay hydrated all the time
you’re you’re in you’re in great shape and then you know the with the humidifiers in the recovery after a show it’s it’s really really important and i was quite happy to hear you you know you figured out how to do it on the bus you know just to give yourself a chance yeah well we would you know when i’m when i’m with sometimes like i remember in the last it must have been the last run or maybe the one pre one one of the ones where i got sick right off the hop um it’s like well we send somebody to go get a humidifier and we get a hotel room and then i’ll just like hold up in the hotel room with the humidifier just blasting right in my face yeah um yeah and then just and just slamming water and slamming water yeah yeah um it sucks man it’s the worst i i i hate getting sick it’s just it’s brutal it’s the worst part of being a singer it really is yeah because it’s not it’s not for anybody to be sick it sucks for anybody to be sick but i could be sick as a dog and still play blazing guitar solo you know i might not enjoy it as much i might not be doing loop-de-loops and jumping off the stack and i’m you know yeah but you know these still work yeah and this is just taken away it’s and you know it’s not your fault like nobody wants to get sick it’s just the worst yeah people waiting in the audience to see a great show and you’re like i don’t know if i can give them a great show
I know it’s a psychological thing like i said it’s you know the emotional stress of going, ah christ what the hell am i gonna do tonight you know you know been there many times it sucks um thanks for doing this man
that’s awesome hopefully there’s lots of stuff in there for people to digest and just get people thinking about what it is and how long and what’s the effort behind doing you know what you do
yeah i think that’s the whole point. it’s a lifelong pursuit
it certainly is it certainly is so thank you that i really appreciate it
dude thank you so much it’s great to see you all back for a top up soon because i’m we’re heading out in uh in april that’s all right yeah i think it’s yeah in april so we’re in warren rehearsals march but maybe sometime in there like sure i don’t keep meeting too but i really i’m due yeah see how much i’ve [ __ ] up over the last couple years i think i’m okay though it feels great like sounds great yeah when i’m healthy it’s okay yeah yeah it sounds great all right buddy all right
thanks for watching I’d like to give a big thanks to Ian for doing the interview and to Ryan Balloch from Skware Eyes Collaborative for providing me with the video and the images if you like this and perhaps learn something please hit that subscribe button I’ve got more stuff to come
Mitch Seekins Vocal Coach to Ian Thornley from Big Wreck and many others!