More new music escapes from Phil Thornalley’s Swamp Studio as his Astral Drive alias edges towards the release of a new album. LISTEN HERE while we await album details, coming soon!
Archive Tag: astral drive
Following last months release of the Waterlilies single, Astral Drive follow up today with new track “For The Dreamers”
Phil Thornalley, aka Astral Drive, explains: “In January I stumbled on a simple guitar riff, hummed along and two minutes later it had morphed into a melody for a complete song. I e-mailed the idea to my friend Shelly Peiken in LA, she added her lyrical magic and the recording just flowed naturally from there.
Back in the 70s, when i worked at RAK Records, songs would be recorded by the artist and released two weeks later so I’m excited that this tune was written and recorded with that elan.“
Phil Thornalley continues his quixotic adventures into 70s inspired aural delights with a new batch of Astral Drive songs for 2021, written and recorded throughout 2020.
Temporarily exiled from his London studio, Phil made the most of what was to hand. With one piano (ex 10CC), one tiny beginner’s drum kit, one unloved bass, a battered acoustic guitar and one very nice old microphone, Phil set to work on his Macbook.
“I was able to record in my re-purposed garage in the Suffolk countryside. Luckily, the week before lockdown it had been insulated but not from the smells of the pig farm next door!”
The songs were mostly conceived and half-written on long bike rides through the ‘mighty hills of Suffolk’. An avalanche of major and minor seventh chords, heartfelt vocals and soul searching lyrics all topped off with swathes of sonic sunshine.
The first single, Water Lilies, is out now:
Sadness and loss cast a shadow during the lockdown which added an extra emotional dimension to the songs. “While my creative default is to hunt down happiness in music a couple of the songs naturally became reflections on immortality” the artist mused.
With writing contributions from Gregg Alexander, Shelly Peiken and David Munday (Astral Drive guitarist on live shows) it’s not an entirely solo affair. Additionally, Boo Hewerdine made his mark:
“I asked Boo to write me a song on the theme of ’Star Gazing’… so literally, he did! The next day I had a scratchy piano demo from Boo with some distant singing and beautiful lyrics about fame and failure. He gave me carte blanche to shoot his song into astral orbit.”
The final album tracklist is yet to be decided but guest contributions so far come from some familiar names to those who read the debut album liner notes: Kasim Sulton on backing vocals, Keith Scott on lead guitar, Mickey Curry on drums and Gary Breit on keyboards all sending in parts from their respective home studios . Phil’s still hoping his old mate Bryan might join the dream team.
“He’s offered to play some guitar or drums from his studio in Vancouver but right now is busy working on his next album, hunting down his own dreams.”
Superstar mixer Dave Bascombe returns to pull the whole thing together with a vibrant punchy balance to compliment Phil’s production.
“I was cycling through Suffolk in the April sunshine during the dark days of lockdown and this song just fell into my head” says veteran songwriter Phil Thornalley, “It seemed darkly funny, but honest too.”
After years in the music industry writing, producing and playing for Bryan Adams, The Cure and, perhaps most famously, Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘Torn’, Phil has honed the skills of writing, arranging and playing to pop perfection. The recording took barely a day with Phil laying down all the instruments at his modest home studio, taking on the familiar role of a one-man-band akin to his other solo project, the seventies rock inspired Astral Drive.
For ‘22nd Century‘ the song’s production took on a distinctly Jeff Lynne / Travelling Wilburys sound.
“I’m a fan of Jeff Lynne’s records” raved Phil, “and I worked with Jeff on a song I’d co-written with Mr Adams for his ‘Get Up’ album. I thought the demo I made was simple and no-nonsense but Jeff took that demo and made it even simpler! Simpler drums, the most basic bass guitar part, everything was reduced to work for the song and the voice – no fancy shit!”.
“When i sang the line ‘ooo-ooo-ee, 22nd century’ I thought I might be pushing the limits of simplicity into bubblegum absurdity. A hit songwriter friend suggested changing the line for something with more substance but the song seemed to want to stay simple and that’s what i went with – the feel of that breezy, sunshine Suffolk bike ride”.
Its tongue in cheek lyrical message hopefully brings a knowing smile to the listener, young or old. A record made for classic radio and Saturday evening barbecue playlists. Something to kick back to.
A simple beat, a simple hook and an unavoidably simple truth. Three chords and the truth, in fact.
Phil Thornalley features in the latest issue of TapeOp magazine. A fascinating read that covers his work with Bryan Adams, Thompson Twins, The Cure, Prefab Sprout, The Psychedelic Furs, The Jam, XTC, Duran Duran, Paul McCartney and, of course, Astral Drive.
Read it in full here: tapeop.com/interviews/135/phil-thornalley/
Self-titled Astral Drive album #2… sort of… aka “Green”. Although this is an album of new recordings it’s designed as a companion piece, an extension to the original Astral Drive record.
“After playing my songs solo and acoustically during promotion of the album, Andrew at Lojinx gave me the idea to strip down and “recycle” the summer-bleached original recordings and go back to their green grass roots, the essence of the songs, with me singing at the piano.”
“I recorded the original album with an avalanche of ideas and off-the-cuff performances that caught the vibe, in the moment. I aimed to capture the spirit of the songs as they bubbled up from a fragment of melody or a line of scribbled lyrics and formed into a full-on production.”
“The theme of this ‘Green’ album was to strip away the production from the original recordings and shine an astral light on the songs from a different angle. I re-recorded them in a more basic form, added some spicy herbs, and then served it all with some chilled vibes. Like an astral green curry.”
“There’s a few name-dropping guest performances from Keith Scott on guitar and Gary Breit on piano and vocals (Bryan Adams band), David Munday on harmonica (who had sat in on my live performances) and Kasim Sulton (Todd Rundgren’s band) on vocals. My daughter Maddy also sings harmony vocal too.”
So, here it is… Astral Drive, the ‘Green’ album, back to basics with, hopefully, a few spicy surprises.
Out now is the new 3-track single and video from Astral Drive! ‘Wishing I Could Change the World’ is taken from the self-titled album and now re-mixed for radio by the legendary Dave Bascombe. The single includes 2 new recordings; a cover of the Goffin/King classic ‘Up on the Roof’ and new song ‘Who Loves You’.
“‘Up on the Roof’ has such evocative, melancholic lyrics”, says Phil “and in my slowed down version, based on Laura Nyro’s 1970’s recording, I wanted to let the words come to the fore – the wide-eyed hope and the heart wrenching sadness“.
“The great reception for Astral Drive inspired me to write the lyrics for a dreamy song that wasn’t finished in time to make that first album. ‘Who Loves You’ is about how life can change in a heartbeat and how insecurity can haunt us just as easily as love can lift us.”
Lojinx: https://ljx.cc/wicctw (digital download + new limited edition T-shirt)
Astral Drive is songwriter/producer, Phil Thornalley’s vision of a long lost album from the 1970s. Writing, singing and playing all the instruments in the style of 70’s legends Todd Rundgren and Stevie Wonder. The eponymous debut Astral Drive album is out now!
Our first release of 2019 is the new single by Astral Drive, out today!
“Love Is Real” is taken from the self-titled album and re-mixed for radio by Dave Bascombe. The 3-track singles includes 2 new recordings; a cover of Todd Rundgren’s ‘A Dream Goes On Forever’ and an acoustic version of ‘Wishing I Could Change The World’.
Astral Drive is songwriter/producer, Phil Thornalley’s vision of a long lost album from the 1970s. Writing, singing and playing all the instruments in the style of 70’s stalwarts Todd Rundgren and Stevie Wonder.
Astral Drive‘s self titled album, and new video, is out now! Astral Drive is songwriter and producer Phil Thornalley’s vision of a long lost album from the 1970s, that only existed in his own mind. A labour of love that is very much the statement of a lifelong music fan living in the modern world.
He may not be a household name but many of the records he’s made with artists as diverse as The Cure, XTC, Psychedelic Furs, The Jam, Duran Duran, Paul McCartney, and Natalie Imbruglia (he produced and co-wrote her worldwide smash “Torn”) certainly hold a special place in the hearts and ears of millions.
Astral Drive features guest contributions from Utopia’s Kasim Sulton, drummer Mickey Curry, keyboardist Gary Breit, and guitarist Keith Scott, with portrait photography by Bryan Adams.
As Phil says, “If you like trippy melodic rock with soulful harmony vocals and positive lyrics, step into the warm and welcoming sunshine of Astral Drive. Just don’t forget your space suit“.
Summer of ’76 video credits:
Director: Ollie Rillands
Producer: David Smith
Production Company: Shapeshifter Films
Lead Male Actor: Daniel Watson
Lead Female Actor: Lucy Marie Curry
Older Male Actor: John Watson
Lojinx is thrilled to welcome Astral Drive and introduce to you the first single “Summer of ’76”.
From the upcoming self-titled album on Lojinx, Astral Drive is songwriter and producer Phil Thornalley’s vision of a long lost album from the 1970s that only existed in his own mind. A labour of love that is very much the statement of a lifelong music fan living in the modern world.
The self-titled Astral Drive album will be released on the 6th of July and is available for pre-order now.