Get To Know AC30 … Before They Make You Love Their Music!

On Friday November 23rd, AC30 will be making the drive north from Huntington to play the Worthington Ballroom. The show will also feature Cadillac Lester, Haggard Wulf and a special performance from Todd Burge & Jimmy Clinton. The show will also help Old Man Rivers Mission by collecting canned goods for a reduced at the door ticket price. Bring 3 cans get in for $8! 

I spoke a little with AC30 bassist Ian Thorton about his band, their vision and playing live. I think you’ll find that we’re all in for a treat on Friday night! 

PM Beat: How long have you all been playing together?

Ian: “We began playing around in the studio late 2009 and played our first live show with (Alex, Bud, Ryan and myself) New Year’s Eve 2010.” 

PM Beat: Is AC30 a creation from any former bands, or did everybody start as new performers/first band?

Ian: “Ryan and I were originally in a short lived band together called Whirling Dervish. Around the middle of 2009 we lost our lead guitarist and Bud, having heard us at a local venue previously, was down to fill the spot. That band shortly faded out and we began hanging out and recording some tracks at Bud’s Trackside Studios. This material eventually turned into the early makings of AC30. Most of that album was done with only Ryan, Bud and me. Alex came along during the process, as well as Doug who had recently moved back from Atlanta. Then, PJ was the last to come on board. Our good buddy, Rod Elkins, also played a couple of shows with us.” 

PM Beat: I know the Vox AC30 amp … and you don’t see many bands playing Rickenbacker guitars … was there a focused effort to gravitate toward the equipment based on any particular influencing artists?

Ian: “Well, not really I don’t think … ha-ha. Bud came up with the name and we all really dug it. I suppose it kind of gives you a glimpse of what to expect from us, but since everyone in the band writes, I feel like we’re really across the board stylistically. And no one actually plays an AC30. As for the Ric’s, both Ryan and I have had ours for years, happy coincidence I suppose. Who doesn’t like a Ric?” 

PM Beat: I appreciate you guys playing on Nov. 23rd at the historic Worthington Ballroom and you seem to be open to gigs … how many shows do you normally like to play a month?

Ian: “We appreciate the offer to play that room! When it comes to shows, I suppose it depends on what else is going on. If we’re trying to record, our focus is mostly on that. But when we’re playing we like to play about 6-8 times a month. Given that everyone has a day job, we’re pretty much restricted to Thurs-Sat for shows. So we focus on short weekend runs around the region.” 

PM Beat: Can you think of any one show in particular, where everything just seemed to align and flow, and when you looked out to the audience the band was shocked by the sheer number of people and the amount of fun they were having?

Ian: “We’re still a relatively new band, so as of yet we haven’t played any enormous shows really. But this past Halloween show in Huntington might have been just about our best show yet. All the elements were there for that one. The band was playing very well, the sound was tight and there were a couple hundred people in the audience just eating up everything we threw at them. Everything just seemed to click and it was a blast on our end.” 

PM Beat: It is show business, with the duty of the band to both play and entertain … who are some artists, which you may have seen live or via media, which have a performance style which AC30 enjoys/incorporates?

Ian: “That’s one of the aspects I believe we’re still getting comfortable with, stage presence. I think we put on pretty good show, but granted, we’re no KISS … ha-ha. Everyone adds their own element and stage persona. We don’t really think about that in terms of emulating any one. We all like the Who, those guys definitely had presence.” 

PM Beat: I’m a firm believer that egos are destructive in the music business and that bands need a thick skin and calm demeanor to get through the unhappy things that pop up from time to time … what is the smallest crowd you have ever played before that really made you scratch your head and wonder “what happened?”

Ian: “Yea, one of the strongest things about our band is the fact that egos are left at the door. So many times you can get all the best players together, but they’ll form the worst band. The camaraderie of our band is one of my favorite aspects of AC30. We’re all in it for the same reason, to make music we love and to have fun doing it. You can’t take this stuff too seriously or you’ll drive yourself crazy. Shitty shows happen, that’s just the nature of the beast. Sometimes the smallest crowd can be one of the funnest shows. For instance, we played in Knoxville to about 7-10 people. Drove 5+ hours to get there and was a little beat but I felt that it was one of our best shows because those 7 people really dug what we were doing.” 

PM Beat: Every bands has different aspirations and realities due to day to day life … if you could add something (a tour with a well- known band, chance to record with a well-known producer, increased media recognition of your work so far, adding another talented musician to bring a new angle to the bands sound, etc…) to the world of AC30 what do you think the band would enjoy gaining?

Ian: “Like you said, we’re realistic. We don’t really have aspirations to be as big as the Beatles or anything. Personally, I really like the chemistry of our band. I think we all come together and work really well as a group. We all have our own strengths that contribute to our sound and overall workings as a band. Having Bud and Ryan in the band especially helps out with our recording process. It’s not like we have to shell out tons of money and desperately try to knock out X amount of songs in a weekend. We can focus on making great records. Though, we do enjoy getting out of our normal confines to do a little work elsewhere as with Eddie Ashworth (Athens) or Roger Nichols (Nashville). I think our main focus at this point is making the best records we can and gaining as many fans as possible to share them with. So yea, if Petty needs an opener anytime soon I’m sure we’d be more than happy to oblige.” 

PM Beat: Fans, other bands, maybe even some band mates do some hysterical things from time to time while you are performing … does any event spring to mind where AC30 just had to step back and get a good laugh out of their system before starting or finishing a live song?

Ian: “Our Huntington shows always come with some nice banter both from the crowd and from us as well. So you never know what you’re going to hear, but it can get pretty comical at times. One of the things that comes to mind would be when we were covering “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin” with PJ singing and as opposed to the song’s normal city shout outs, PJ decided to add WV towns on the fly instead and it worked out incredibly well. We all about lost it on that one. Maybe you had to be there.. lol.” 

PM Beat: I’m sure everyone in the band loves creating music … but when you step away from the band what are some of the non-musical things that you enjoy or are a little fanatical about?

Ian: “I think we all have our own things we do outside the band. Granted we’re not necessarily a “young” band so we all definitely have our responsibilities to take care of. I’m still cutting my teeth as a promoter here in Huntington, founding the Huntington Music & Arts Festival back in 2010. Bud just keeps getting better with his recording craft and taking part in starting the ‘Live at Trackside’ video series. The rest of the fellas all have day jobs/girlfriends…etc as well. So sometimes when we’re not making music, we’re still doing music stuff I suppose.”

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