All Access Magazine Articles

August 24, 2006

The “Thunder” behind ThundHerStruck
Interview

By Debra Stocker
Cover photo by Manrique Photos, additional photos by Mike Cavanaugh Photography

The band ThundHerStruck is the Ultimate All-Girl Tribute to AC/DC! These girls have been rockin worldwide for several years, and have played some truly amazing events-including their latest military tour through Afghanistan and the worlds largest music tradeshow, “Musikmesse”, in Germany. Now ThundHerStruck hits us with their latest achievement, their newly released debut CD, “You’ve been ThundHerStruck”.

Although ThundHerStruck is a tribute to one of the greatest rock bands to date, they truly add an intensity and energy to these songs all their own. This CD not only manages to capture the raw edge of AC/DC, but also the bands own unique power and sound as well.

Do they really have “The Biggest Balls of them All”?

Let’s start at the beginning, first by introducing these amazing girls:
Dyna Shirasaki (Bon Johnson) lead vocals ~ Tina Wood (Angus) lead guitar ~ Carin Toti (Malcolm) rhythm guitar ~ Andrea Zermeno (Cliff) bass guitar ~ and Stephanie Leigh (The Rudd-Ster) drums

AAM: How long have you girls been paying tribute to AC/DC and how did you all meet?

Dyna: We’ve been doing the AC/DC thing for almost 5 years now. Steph, Tina and I have jammed previously in a number of different projects before this one though.

Steph: Yeah, we’ve known each other a long time and have been in quite a few bands together in the past. So when Dyna called to see if I wanted to jam some AC/DC tunes I thought it would be a blast-and so it was!!! Shortly after that we met up with Andrea, who inevitably introduced us to Carin.

Tina: Yep, Dyna called and asked if I was interested in playing in an AC/DC tribute, I love AC/DC and though it would be fun to check it out.

Andrea: So basically for me it’s only been about 4 years paying tribute to AC/DC. I met Steph, Tina and Dyna from some girl I met at an audition who knew them. She gave me their number because she heard they were looking for a Bass player.

Carin: I’ve known Andrea for awhile and she introduced me to the band, and I’ve been having a blast ever since!

AAM: It seemed ThundHerStruck took off over night as did your military tour(s) over seas-quite amazing. Where over seas has this taken you exactly?

Dyna: We’ve been around the world….Bosnia, Kosovo, Germany, Belgium, Iraq, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan….

Andrea: We actually went a couple times to Afghanistan.

Tina: We also played Germany and Wales for a few non military shows.

Steph: Yes, we have done some incredible overseas stuff and we are really grateful for all these amazing events, but ThundHerStruck didn’t really take off “over night”. It really took a lot of time and hard work and effort on our part to get our name out there- and let people see how this band totally kicks ass! However, once we did manage to accomplish that, and we busted ass to get ThundHerStruck known, things have been non-stop since!

AAM: I believe it was your first military trip, you girls were actually right on the line of fire, correct? Can I ask why 5 very talented young girls would want to consider such a dangerous tour like that?

Dyna: We’ve been in the “line of fire” (or, in a war zone) three times now: twice in Afghanistan, once in Iraq. Personally, I do it for one reason only: to support our troops who sacrifice more for our country than most of us could ever imagine. These folks are just doing their job, and we want to let them know how important that job is and show them how much we appreciate them. Our going down range has nothing to do with whether or not we support the war (we don’t mix politics with entertainment). I feel it’s really the least we could do for them, and it is also an honor to be asked to do it.

Tina: It’s totally for the troops, how could we not do it? It was a great honor to be asked let alone go, and I would totally do it again.

Steph: As Dyna said, there were several tours where “the line of fire” was involved. It is a little intimidating for sure, but the reason we do it is simple, as we all have said-we support our troops! Regardless of our own personal and political feelings, out troops are over there in extremely rough living conditions, and for us to be able to go there and rock for them, and bring them a bit of home and a good time is a total honor! God Bless our Troops!!!

Andrea: However, we didn't request to play Sadr City Iraq, we just kinda ended up there. I didn't know how dangerous it was till they told us upon our arrival, and, before you knew it, it was time to play. But once you get carried away with the show you kinda forget about all that. Then, we all stay in some kind of makeshift housing for the night and that's where the fun starts!! There is usually some treacherous hike in the dark to take a leak, or some holes in the walls that need to be Duct taped up to keep the Camel Spiders out etc... Let's just say it get's very interesting!!!!!

Carin: Actually, this last Afghanistan trip we were on ALL F.O.B (forward operation bases) and they were definitely dangerous black out bases. But we did it for the troops, they are over there for 12 months at a time or longer, so I figured we can do 12 days!

AAM: I know the trip had some remarkable moments, any you care to elaborate on?

Tina: Playing our first show in Sadr City, they brought a soldier to the front of the stage on a stretcher, he had the biggest smile on his face, and of course flying in the Blackhawks over Baghdad.

Dyna: We’ve had the opportunity to fly on Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters, fire 50-caliber weapons and Mark-19 grenade launchers, and other cool stuff. Andrea even sat on Saddam’s toilet! Oh, and we also were able to spend 4th of July hanging with some of the Special Forces. That’s really all I can say about that or else they might have to hunt me down and kill me. Hehe!

Andrea: Well if Blackhawkin it thru the Hindu Kush (Bodacious Mountain Range where Bin Laden is said to be hiding) isn't enough try this one; Performing at a "lights out"(no lights after sundown anywhere outside no exceptions!) F.O.B. Getting caught in the dark, only visible light is the lil' dots on you pedals, while dozens of soldiers stage dive! At that point the soldiers became the show!! Unforgettable!!!! Oh yeah, that’s right Dyna, and me sitting on Saddam’s toilet!

Carin: First of all, the soldiers over there are THE most respectful AND best audiences a musician could ever play for. You always feel like you are doing something so good when you play for them! So many stories! When we were in the black out bases we could use only red and blue flashlights to walk blocks in the dirt just to use the bathroom. Ok, sometimes we didn't walk there, we made toilets out of Gatorade bottles and paper cups! We saved the cups and said "here's our toilets for the night!" We also got stuck in Bagram (BAF) and ended up sharing a tent with several comedians not knowing if we were going to make our flight home from AFG! Having the girl soldiers come up on stage and rock out with us in Bondsteel was cool! And having the Denver Bronco Cheerleaders come up on stage in Kandahar and dance to Girls Got Rhythm was a treat too!!

Steph: Truly there were just so many incredible moments…from the soldier that tells you “thank you so much, for 2 hours you actually made me forget where I was!”, to the American AND Iraqi soldiers side by side singing “Highway to Hell” together with their hands in the air, or as Dyna and Tina said-the Blackhawk rides... just WAY to many moments to name -check out our upcoming documentary due out next year- But I do have a doozie of my own…it was on our Iraq tour, and when we got into Iraq and went to play one of the shows, the drums were set up but there were no cymbals to be found-so I asked the road manager and the stage help-nope-no cymbals! (MIA- go figure!) Soooo, they ask me what I want to do, and of course I joke about getting trash can lids, thinking this whole time that of course they’ll show up before show time! No problem! Off I go after sound check. Showtime comes around and of course-no cymbals! I look out at the packed house of soldiers that are there- and of course the last thing they need is for the drummer to start sniveling about cymbals, all things considered- so they go ahead and give me what they called trash can lids, that pretty much turned out to be more like Marie Calendar pie tins! It was hysterical! Every time I hit the damn thing it would wrap around my stick and I would have to pull my stick out and go on with the beat on the drums (remember-no hi-hats!). Thank god for a great band (-grin) we totally pulled it off, had a lot of fun with the soldiers- and ended the show with a massive amount of stage diving! Haha!

AAM: Other then “military trips”, what other events have you performed over seas ? Like THE BIG BALL - AC/DC Tribute Convention in Wales, and others, what was it like?

Carin: We were at the Big Ball?? Hehehe! The Big Ball was basically 12 AC/DC tribute bands staying in a college dorm in Wrexham raging for 5 days. We all did one show and just hung out and supported each other all week. Lot's of “kitchen parties”-(Hi Sander!)

Tina: It was awesome! One big party!

Dyna: We also played the MusikMesse in Germany this past March. The nice thing about the non-military gigs are that the non-military personnel can also come. We have lots of fans overseas and they aren’t able to attend the military shows, so it’s nice to be able to perform for them as well. As for the Big Ball….all I can say is that it was one INCREDIBLE party!!!! Woo hoo!!!

Carin: The Musikmesse is similar to NAMM, only 10 times bigger. We played there for Electro Voice, our microphone endorsers. We did 2 shows a day and also an acoustic show! It was a blast, there were tons of our friends there including some of our Big Ball buddies, plus our other endorsers (ESP). We just met so many cool people and partied down and rocked the house in Frankfurt!!

Steph: Between Big Ball and Messe-those were two of the best times for me yet! I know, I know, I say that about almost all of our events, but those events ROCKED! Not to mention the major party times!

AAM: In the USA your tour has taken you to WA, FL. MT, KS, NV, ND, MN, and of course CA. If you could pick anywhere you wanted to perform where would that be and why?

Dyna: I’m still wanting to perform in New York….I’ve never been there! Hawaii would be nice too, for obvious reasons. Oh yeah, and Texas. I want to give a shout out to my peeps over there!!!

Andrea: Anywhere in South America. Those peeps are crazy!

Carin: KANSAS!!! So many reasons!! We will never forget the Wheatland Jam!!

Steph: I guess anywhere there’s a good party is my kind of place to play! Hehe!

Tina: My favorite tours are the military ones, they are most appreciative audience, the desert tours especially, they need the entertainment out there. It definitely helps keep their spirits up.

AAM: ThundHerStruck has headlined and shared the stage with many artist/groups such as FOREIGNER, GRAND FUNK RAILROAD, THE GUESS WHO, HEART, POISON, WARRANT, STARSHIP, GEORGE THOROGOOD, REO SPEEDWAGON and Joe Lynn Turner, just to name a few. Is there anyone else you would like that opportunity with?

Steph: TOTALLY…AC/DC of course!!!!!

Dyna: I’m dreaming of the day when we can share the stage with AC/DC themselves. That would frickin’ ROCK! Other than that, I would freak out if we could open for Aerosmith!

Tina: I’d like to jam with all the members of AC/DC! That would be cool. We’ve played with Chris Slade who is an incredible drummer and a very fun person to be around.

Andrea: Ozzfest!!!

Carin: Malcolm from AC/DC... and I’m down for Ozzfest!

AAM: Speaking of sharing the stage, at a few of your shows we’ve seen former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade make a special guest appearance. How did this come about? And will we see that again?

Carin: "You will never see that again!" That's an inside joke- Absolutely!! We adore Chris and are definitely going to play with him again! He went to Afghanistan with us and was just lovely to be around especially being in a war zone! He made us laugh everyday!! If we ever need a fill in drummer again, we would hope he'd moonwalk onto the tour with us!

Andrea: Amen Carin.(grin-)

Steph: Yeah, Chris is a totally great guy, and an amaaaazing drummer!

Dyna: Slade RULES! We met him a few years ago at the Asia record release party -he used to play with them too--. We’ve since become good friends. He periodically sits in with us at shows, so you’ll never know when you might get a chance to catch him in the act!

Tina: As I said before, an incredible drummer and a very fun person to be around.

AAM: Tell us a little about this year’s tours.

Steph: Well, here goes- We started the year off with NAMM, and from there went on to Sea World-Orlando with Hootie and the Blowfish, then we did the Afghanistan tour -Yeay Chris for filling in!- to the Musikmesse in Germany. From there we played the Anheuser Busch 10th Annual Chili Cook off in Butte MT, the Biker Week in Florida, a Germany/Belgium MWR tour, The Moondance Jam in MN with 28 headlining bands in attendance and 23,000 peeps. (big breath),then off to Route 66 in Albuquerque NM with Foreigner, straight to Rockin the Rivers for a encore performance in Three Forks MT and last but not least we are ending our summer tour with 3 fantastic local shows last weekend; first opening for Joe Lynn Turner at a new club in Hollywood called the Vine Street Lounge, then the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation Fundraiser at Paladinos-sponsored by non other then All Access Magazine-, and the finale for our summer schedule was the Girls Got Rhythm CD Release Party at the Key Club/Hollywood. Whew!

Carin: Wow! I guess when we say we have a packed year we really mean it.

Tina: Yes, and once October comes around we’re touring Japan for another MWR tour!

Steph: We just can’t stop! Hahaha!!!

AAM: ThundHerStruck we have seen your involvement with some charity events too, Rock the Toy Box (Toys For Tots toy drive), Dimebag Darrell Memorial Fund Benefit, Save the Music Rockfest, Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund Benefit Concert, Rock Relief and the most recent Linda Blair's Worldheart Foundation Animal Rescue. You girls already have such a busy tour, why and how do you find time to get involved with these events too?

Dyna: We feel it’s important to make time for charity events. The great thing about the success of ThundHerStruck is not the success itself; it’s being given the opportunity to be able to do more things for others. Giving truly is much more rewarding than getting... that’s the key to happiness. If you don’t know that yet, I recommend giving it a try sometime.

Carin: It is very important to do those shows. And if we can we will-that is our contribution to those causes. It is great to be able to help out by playing music.

Andrea: Jamming with your friends is ALWAYS a good time and if we can help out some needy peeps or animal peeps why not?

Steph: Yeah, it’s great to be able to help out deserving charitable organizations such as those, and a lot of times we just have to make the time. We had taken a few weeks off last year after our kick ass summer tour, and a few of us had planned vacations, but when hurricane Katrina hit and we were asked to play the fundraiser at the Key Club, we cancelled our down time and went right back to it. No sweat! If we can play our show and be able to raise money for worthy causes-then AMEN!

Tina: In fact we’ll be seeing you again for your “Toys for Tots Fundraiser” in December.

AAM: Tell me about ThundHerStruck’s Endorsements.

Tina: We have many great endorsements, including ESP who have been very supportive with our military tours, they donate a camo ESP viper guitar each time we do desert tour, which I get to play for the tour then raffle off at our last show to one lucky soldier. So far they have donated 3 of them!

Dyna: We’re also endorsed by Electro-Voice (microphones and wireless systems). They’re the ones who brought us out to the MusikMesse in Germany-and had us play their NAMM show in Anaheim. Love them!

Steph: I’ve been endorsed with Pearl drums for many years-they totally rock! Not to mention Ahead Sticks and Sabian Cymbals. Ahead sticks- you gotta try ‘em! Just make sure and wrap them and they are the best sticks you can use! They have a great feel! The Sabian’s I use scream! They have a lot of power that is needed for our show…you know-I kick some serious drum ass when I play this gig, so I gotta have the gear to back it up! Hehe!

Tina: Their’s other endorsements I’d like to thank too- Graphtech Ghost systems, Dimarzio straps, Earvana compensated nuts, Nordstrand Pickups...

Steph: Compensated what??? Sounds painful! -grin

Carin: Also Seymour Duncan and Onori Accessories.

Andrea: Plus Aguilar Amplification and GHS Bass Strings.

AAM: Recently, I saw a special appearance by Dyna Shirasaki singing the American Anthem at the celebrity golf tournament, (simply amazing). And her solo project, DYNA (www.dynagirl.net) at the AAM awards last year, WOW! Dyna’s performance with Heaven and Earth and Empyre, a tri to Queensryche took my breath away! I have also seen Andrea Zermeno, sitting in with Bonfire. Can you tell our readers of any more special events/appearances you girls have in store. Or where the road plans to take ThundHerStruck next?

Dyna: Gee! Thanks for the compliments! I’m still trying to finish up my 2nd solo CD. I was hoping to have it done by the end of this summer, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. I’m in the final stretch with completing my doctoral thesis research at UCLA (I’m hoping to graduate by Summer 2007). Recently, my research has been heading in a very interesting direction, which really is great thing, but for the time being it means more work for me and less time for my music.

Steph: Dyna is phenomenal! She is a total talent, I swear! She amazes us all! As for future plans for ThundHerStruck…hehehe…

Andrea: it's anyone's guess!

Tina: We’ll just go with the flow. We feel fortunate to have these gigs come to us, we put a lot of hard work into this band and now it is paying off, so who knows what’s next.

Steph: You’ll just have to keep checkin’ out our website to find out the latest “Dirty Deeds”! For all you wild and crazy peeps out there that are interested it’s www.ThundHerStruck.com

AAM: “You’ve been ThundHerStruck” produced by Kelly Hansen, is the bands debut release. It has 10 tracks that include “Highway To Hell’, TNT, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Sin City, You Shock Me All Night Long, Back In Black, Shoot To Thrill, Whole Lotta Rosie, For Those About To Rock and of course your theme song, Thunderstruck, why did you pick these songs and is there another CD in the makings? Maybe even a DVD?

Steph: This CD Kicks ass!!! Check it out for yourselves! We want to make sure and let Kelly Hansen know how much HE kicks ass too for producing our CD! He did an incredible job!

Band: “Totally!” more mumbles from the whole band of “kicks ass”, “shredding”…

Dyna: Basically we decided on these songs by voting amongst the band. As for another CD, who knows?!!! We may put out another CD sometime in the future, but it probably won’t be right away, as we just released this one.

Carin: yeah, we did vote on the songs, but there are soo many great ones!!

Steph: No doubt! AC/DC tunes are all great! Dyna’s right though, we just released this CD, so possibly next year we might record another... we’ve actually discussed doing a live CD! That would be a ripper as well! Also, we do have a DVD, but it’s really for promo verses us selling it. However, we’re hoping to have 2 filmed documentaries and an upcoming feature in a book, (biography), completed by next year. So again, log on and keep checkin’ in for more THS info.

AAM: Where is this CD available?

Dyna: You can get it at our shows, or by visiting our website: www.ThundHerStruck.com. It will also be available through CD Baby and other retailers in the future.

Steph: I think it’s going to be available on Amazon.com and Napster as well. But it will always be the best deal from our website. We have some totally cool merch available too!

AAM: You’ve also been guest on complication CD’s. All Access Rocks Vol. 1, and just released August 22nd, the All-Female Tribute Compilation Girls Got Rhythm, Liquor and Poker Music - the "rock" arm of the Century Media Family. Any others?

Dyna: I think that’s it! We’re planning on putting another track on the next All Access Rocks Vol 3 CD too!

Steph: Yes, thanks to All Access Magazine for including us in the past on their rockin’ CD Sampler and also to Century Media and Liquor and Poker Music for including us on their Girls Got Rhythm Compilation CD, as well for having us perform the CD Release Party! You Rawk! And ya never know what the future holds for us with more cool PR stuff!

AAM: ThundHerStruck The Ultimate All-Girl tribute to AC/DC band is making quite a name for them selves. Beautiful girls, as well as talented they are fast becoming a household name. So what is the “thunder” behind ThundHerStruck and to what do you owe your success?

Carin: Jagermeister and Patron!! I'm joking-- I would say acting like professionals in every situation-being good friends, communicating and working on things together and just having the chemistry we have together makes this band successful. We always have a good time, we always take lots of time to meet the fans everywhere we go, we keep in touch with people, we always do what we say we're going to and we get along very well!

Steph: Carin’s not really joking about the Jager or Patron! Haha! Or is she?... Hhhmmmmmmmm I guess peeps will just have to check out a show for themselves and see where we get our “ThundHer”! We do have a very cool show though!!! It’s a high energy show that is a lot of fun! Good friends, good times, good tunes, what could be better?

Andrea: No attitudes and no egos either- that's the key. We also all have a great sense of humor. That's so important when you’re on the road.
Tina: Work, fun, work, fun...
Dyna: We really owe our success to AC/DC, for without them and their great songs, ThundHerStruck would never have existed. We also need to give a big thanks to all the fans of their music!

Band: “Totally!”

ThundHerStruck: Thanks so much to all of our friends and fans- and AC/DC we salute YOU!!! We also want to thank All Access Magazine for this great feature, and also for their constant support on the music scene and for keeping local music alive!

AAM would like to “THANK, all the girls of ThundHerStruck”. As we have watched you grow right from the start, and have been proud to be part of it all! ThundHerStruck “We Salute You”!

Story and Interview by Debra Stocker
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