With their humble roots as school friends making music together at the back of a classroom, Thornhill are presently on a trajectory that could see them become one of the biggest metalcore bands in Australia. Signing to UNFD in January, the subsequent release of their Butterfly EP shone a light on the impressive technicality and earnest lyricism that the five piece are capable of.
Featuring Jacob Charlton on vocals, Matt Van Duppen and Ethan McCann on guitar, Nick Sjogren on bass, and Ben Maida on drums, Melbourne based Thornhill have most recently graced the stage on tours with Make Them Suffer, In Hearts Wake, and The Plot In You. They’ve also been recently announced for the Unify Gathering 2019 line-up, and show no signs of slowing down.
We caught up with one half of the guitar team of Thornhill, keen to hear from Ethan McCann where his love for music originated. Ethan began by sharing that it was his mum’s influence that sparked his musical fascination. His mum was a huge fan of Californian rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Ethan was happily immersed in the experience: “I grew up listening to their music in the car, around the house and probably in the womb. By the time I was 10 I knew those albums back to front and loved it.”
The first show that Ethan ever went to happened to also be Red Hot Chili Peppers, catching them at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. He credits this experience as a pivotal moment for him and his love for music, as well as recognising the importance of music in general. Ethan says “Seeing a group of mates so passionate about what they were doing playing to a screaming crowd. Also seeing a band of that calibre with an insane light show and set up in a country that isn’t even their own, made me realise how important music is.”
The band’s music and sonic infectiousness made its way into Ethan’s heart and inspired his own path as a musician, starting with the 2002 album By The Way. Ethan shared “I think what really hooked me was the catchy riffs. After I learnt maybe an E and an A chord, I attempted to learn the “Can’t Stop” intro and from then on I was hooked on guitar. I just preferred how they sounded and once I started to play songs like that I barely touched chords. I think playing single string riffs and licks growing up helped me when I transitioned into playing metal.”
Ethan’s love for Red Hot Chili Peppers hasn’t faded over time, with the band’s album Californication (1999) remaining as one of Ethan’s favourite albums. He shares: “I love most of that band’s discography, but I think that album really locked in their sound. I still pull influences (although they may be subtle) from that record in my current writing. Although Blood Sugar Sex Magik was their break through, I feel like Californication was a much more solid record front to back.”
The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ knack for creating unique pieces of music, while retaining their own signature sound is something that inspires Ethan when it comes to the music he creates with Thornhill. “Even though the Chilies have their signature sound, I feel like they are able to cover quite a few different styles which I really admire. I listen to just about everything under the sun and have never wanted to be locked into playing only one style of music because that would be damn boring!”
Ethan also aspires to emulate the excitement factor that the Chilies seem to have infused through their songs, their live performances, and music videos. He says “I think the energy their music holds really inspired me to make music that would excite people.” Given the infectious buzz that Thornhill has brought to tracks such as “Reptile”, I think they’re on the right track!
Catch Ethan and the Thornhill guys in action at upcoming shows, including their tour with Polaris, The Devil Wears Prada, and Gideon. Details: https://www.facebook.com/pg/thornhillmelb/events/[Photo of Ethan courtesy of Liam Davidson]