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Interview with ThunderD

[ Conducted in September 2002 ]

For those of you who have the Grand Royal/G-Son Studio Tour videotape, you may already feel like you know ThunderD. For everyone else an introduction is in order. ThunderD is a Beastie Boys fan who took the initiative to get in his ride and drive from Oregon to Los Angeles, California (1994) just to see if he could locate a couple of historic Beastie landmarks....Once there the adventure of a lifetime unfolded.

For years your video taped footage of your personal tour of G-Son Studio has been circulating amongst Beastie bootleg collectors. For the record, would you please retell the story behind that tape?

Back in 1994, before my internet days, I planned a California road trip with a buddy. He and I were really only trying to find the Atwater Village sign from the “Gratitude” single’s jacket. I checked out a Los Angeles area phone book to find out where the businesses pictured were located. From the cover you could kind of see one of them fairly clearly, that was Thomas Rug Cleaners. When we got to Los Angeles, it only took about 2 minutes to find the sign. We then saw the next street sign Glendale Blvd. and proceeded to take a left on it. In about 1 minute I saw a pharmacy on the right took a right, and my jaw dropped when I saw the G-Son building. We pulled right on in the back after we saw a kid skating out front. We ended up shootin' the shit with him. It turned that he was there to do a photo shoot with Bob Mack for an article for Grand Royal Magazine detective spoof article. When Bob Mack showed up the other guys told him that we had traveled from Oregon just to find this place. Bob Mack then said come on up. We asked if it was OK to film and take pictures and he responded that once again it was no problem.

Atwater Village

We were there for about hour. Bob loaded up B-Hits and handed out beers, then he just let us wander around and check everything out. I came out of there with a stack of free stuff. Bob just walked around opening up drawers and boxes saying "You got this?" The best score was two copies of the Hip-Hop Sampler. I also took home a promo copy of Money Mark’s 3X10" release. The only label on each of the 10” records was a black stamp with title and Mark’s address on it. The best non-music item was a Polaroid picture taken of the Beasties while they were filming the “Sabotage” music video. In the photo, they are still in costume. I think there is a part in the video where you can see me taking it off the wall. Other than that, it was more just sitting back chatting about the trip we were taking. The only part (of G-Son) that we didn't get a chance to see was the recording booth area… with the record collection. That was locked and dark. Bob said he had no clue where the key was for it. Perhaps the best part of the video is when Bob rattles through Mike D's desk handing me business cards and Japan import CD's, which I don’t believe he was supposed to give out to just anyone. What stuns me the most is that this video has been passed around to so many people. I gave this tape to one person and...well everyone has it now.

Mario Caldato, ThunderD, and Adrock

You've met the Beastie Boys on a few occasions what do you recall about those meetings?

I’ve had the chance to meet the band on a few different tours. The two that stick out the most were in Bremerton, Washington (outside of Seattle) in May of 1995 and then in Portland, Oregon 1998. For the Seattle, WA performance I had VIP Backstage passes for the show. We had known one of the members of The Roots and were able to get the hook up from that connection. It must have been about 90-100 degrees that day for what was to be an outside show. We were in the back, playing basketball in an air conditioned gym with the Roots. Fortunately I had brought along some of my old/rare stuff. Mario C, DJ Hurricane, and Adam Horovitz were going through it all and began holding stuff up to each other asking if the other person had it or not. That day I had about 8 or 9 LP's signed. As far as the concert goes, it was a great show with Mike D wearing a full suit during the show. In addition to that there was guy in a full bear costume who entered from the side and got up on stage. Back in 1998 at the Portland OR performance, I wound up getting another 6 LP's signed plus I also got my Ill Communication skateboard deck signed as well. I took a lot of photos at that show. Think back to the times I’ve met them, it seems as though each time Yauch gets a little more difficult when it comes to convincing him to sign autographs or to pose for photos. I recall him asking, “Why are we doing this” and “what are you doing with them?” Adam Horovitz has always been cool to us as was Mike D. For that matter, everyone has always been cool. That includes Money Mark and Mix Master Mike. Mike even gave me his business card, so that I could call him when I had moved to San Francisco. That way I could find out where the hot spots for clubs and record shopping were. It was also during that time in Portland that we learned Adam Horovitz was no longer with Ione Skye. In fact we learned that he was with Kathleen Hannah, who also is from Portland.

Having stayed off the radar and sort of in the shadows as an "online" Beastie Boys collector do you have any collecting tips you would offer up to fellow Beastie Boys maniacs?

eBay has been great. It has opened the door for not only Beastie collectors, but for just about anything. Previously I had been just trading with one person from Sacramento and then got started on eBay. I’ve even traded videos with a kid in Russia. I think everyone has the chance to get just about any hard to find item. I just would not buy any Beastie Boys autographs off of eBay. Of the 4 years which I’ve been on eBay, I can count on my fingers how many real signatures I have seen.

The only time anything ever went sour with eBay was the time that I received an e-mail from Ricky Powell. He contacted me in regard to a video tape copy of his 1995 raw footage tape that I had put up for auction. By the way that’s Rickford61. I’ve yet to pick up a copy of Country Mike on vinyl. At first I was letting the fire die down and now there are so many boots of it. I’m going to wait and eventually I'll get a copy sooner or later. Also there is no way that am I ever going to pay $1000.00 for the action figures. My main piece of advice for collectors is to never get too excited over what you may have found while digging through crates or online. I always play things down. In fact you may be able to bargain down the price of the item you just discovered. I did that a few months back with an original Pollywog Stew 7”. It works! If you see something new on eBay, don’t be a fool and over pay. You will see 20 more next week on there for half the price.

ThunderD and Mike D
Baskteball at G-Son

Over the years the Beastie Boys have recorded songs and even full length albums and yet have chosen not to formally release them. If you could have selected any one track or recording from their vaults to have appeared on Anthology: Sounds of Science what would it have been?

I was happy with the box-set. However I was more upset with the DVD, which had no pre-Paul's Boutique material on it nor did it contain the “Jimmy James” music video. I think they dropped the ball on that. I’m most stunned by the fact that Def Jam has not released any of their old stuff. I’m sure they could sell a few albums by doing that.

In the video tour of G-Son your video camera focuses in on Mike D's phone number. How tempted were you to call him up?

I really wasn't tempted at all. Granted I’m one of the biggest Beastie Boys marks out there and have already met them, had photos taken with them, and gotten their autographs. I think that calling Mike D would fall under stalking and going over a line. What would I say "Hey Mike, Bob Mack let me in your office, thought I would call to say hi" Sure I did wind up at their studios, but was invited in. I was also invited back into G-son the very next year when I brought along my girlfriend. It was during that visit that the photos of G-son’s interior were taken. I just had the camcorder for the first trip, back in 1994.

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