Interview with Shakra Guitarist Thom Blunier

By Mick Michaels

COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Thom! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it's greatly appreciated.
Thom Blunier: Thank you, I appreciate your interest in our music.

CV: Shakra is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2020. What a great occasion... congratulations! What sort of thoughts and feelings does this level of accomplishment bring up for you as you reflect and embrace this milestone in your career?
TB: Thank you. When you look back to 1995, it was frankly the end of Hard Rock Music. There were a few left of the big legends and also some new groups like Guns n’ Roses but the real main stream was over for this kind of music. Not for me and not for Shakra. At that time I was hyping Rock Music with my former band, which was an AC/DC cover group, and also some guys in the “Emmental“ in Switzerland decided to form a group called Shakra. At that time, I was only 17 and not part of Shakra. But the common passion for this kind of music brought us together some years later and look at us now...we’re still here, having fun and are even more successful than ever. So we did quite the opposite of what anyone would do, we didn’t swim with the current but kept on the good old fashion that we still love. There are not many bands out there with that history and it makes us even more proud that we could overcome the darkest hours we surely every band has but most of them split up.
Well yeah, it feels like...“What? This was 25 years?" But it makes you think “let’s go for another 25." And no, you’ve never seen everything in this scene and this makes it so exciting.

CV: Wisdom is the benefit of experience. After 25 years, does anything surprise you at all or has time and experience tempered such a reaction?
TB: As I said, you’ve never seen it all even after 25 years but there are many situations you can handle much better than back in these years. Rock n’ Roll is something that keeps you young and moving. It doesn’t mean after a long time that you are not excited about going on stage or to release a new album because it’s different every time. No audience is the same and no new song is the same. So it never gets boring and I’m curious about what’s next.

CV: How does the band plan to celebrate the anniversary? Any big events scheduled? Will the fans be involved in the festivities?
TB: We want to celebrate this anniversary with music because this is what it’s all about. This summer we got some big festivals we’re going to play...not only in Europe, we will play the Big Gun Festival near Moskau which will be the first time in Russia and we play the “Bang Your Head" Festival in Balingen which was my very first gig with Shakra in 2002 in front of 10’000 people. This will be a very special moment for me personally. But of course, I’m looking forward to every single concert. The fans are always involved in our concerts...we have great sing-along parts and as they are part of the family, we will have a lot of fun together during and after the shows!

CV: Being in a band is a life of dedication and hard work. For most, nothing comes easy and every step takes time, patience and the sheer will to succeed. Are there things, if at any, over the last 25 years, that you wish you had done differently?
TB: I think you grow with the task. It doesn’t matter what you do in your life, it matters if you have a concrete goal so you are focused on that and nothing else. But I think everything would be different if I’ve made something differently in the past...I like how it is now. So, no.

CV: To further commemorate Shakra's anniversary, a new album, "Mad World," is set to release in February. What can you tell us about the album?  What can fans expect?
TB: It’s a fantastic album. I like it very much because it has everything I expect from a hard rocking album: groove, power, emotion and it has that certain charm and blues that I miss in many modern productions. Shakra sounds like Shakra…it has always been and always will be. It is also not necessary to sound different, because others do. This is not to say that we stand still, no, we keep reinventing ourselves and working on what we do best. Fans of good Rock music will not make a bad buy with this album, because we only sell what we like and not what we think will sell best.

CV: Is the album's title indicative of the band's view of the state of the world at large or is it more of a self proclamation of what life is like being in a band?
TB: It is clear when you get a bit older that you take a critical look at everything that is new. It's not that everything is bad, but because it is unfamiliar, it can look pretty crazy. However, it is clear that the world is changing and nobody really knows what challenges are coming up. Time will tell, and it is hoped that reason will prevail over human instinct in so many uncertain times…even though it has become more and more pervasive in recent years…which is always a sign that the animal "human being" too cannot slip out of his skin and is a creature of nature - nothing more and nothing less.
CV: How have you personally seen the music industry change over the last 25 years? Is the music world really in a state of despair as many have led us to believe or is it all nonsense based on your perspective?
TB: A lot has changed in the life of a musician and the way music is perceived has changed. There is an over stimulation that is pushed by the industry and so everything sinks into a single mash. I can no longer distinguish any band from the other. I miss the heroes that you can recognize from the first note and the albums that you keep getting off the shelf because they were made to last. When I look at the listening behavior nowadays, I sometimes think that one could just produce intros that last no longer than 10 seconds, because today's people don’t have a longer attention span. ”Hey people, a song has an intro, has verses, choruses, special parts, solos - not only some notes for some seconds!." Therefore I am very happy that our fans have grown older with us and are still there, listening to our albums, visiting our concerts and not only seeing the whole thing as God-given entertainment, but living it up and sympathizing it.

I also find it very worrying that some people in the world have the disrespect to sell our work at their price and feed us with a few crumbs while they fill their bags. And what's even worse is that this happens quite legally too! In no other branch would this have been allowed under any circumstances…with us it just seems legitimate.

CV: How do you see Shakra's next 25 years being? Is there a feeling of anticipation and excitement or given how much the world has changed, is there some level of concern?
TB: I look forward to another 25 years. We have the advantage of freedom of the fool, which we, of course, do not take advantage of, but it is good to know.
I worry much more about the world than Shakra, because Shakra has its way and keeps it, no matter what. You cannot stop passion…you cannot take it away from us, because it will always belong to us and we will always practice it as we want and not as someone demands, just to satisfy his greed.

CV: Are there plans for an anniversary tour to celebrate and to support the new album that fans can look forward to in 2020?
TB: Of course we will go on tour! I'm really looking forward to it, it's been a year since we were last on stage and I really want to play live again. We will be traveling a lot in Europe and, as already mentioned, for the first time in Russia, I'm very excited about that. In Switzerland we also have some shows with our friends from Gotthard, which is always a lot of fun.

CV: What's one solid piece of advice you can offer to a young artist or band just starting out that you wish someone had told you way back when?
TB: Well, of course there is no magic formula, that would not be good either. Each band makes its own way and you can't copy it. But anyway, whatever happens, keep the joy of what you do, whether you're going to play in stadiums or in the band room in front of your buddies…it's yours, nobody can take it away and that's the greatest good that you will ever have.
CV: Thank you again for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. It was a pleasure. I wish you all the best and continued success.
TB: Thank you for the interesting questions and I wish all readers a lot of fun with our music. Keep on rocking in a Mad World!

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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.


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