It’s coming up to a year since Ian Thornley released his first Big Wreck album since disbanding the rock band a decade ago after two critically acclaimed albums, 1997’s platinum-plus In Loving Memory Of… and 2001’s The Pleasure and the Greed.
Next month, Albatross — which features only two of the four original Big Wreck members, Thornley and guitarist Brian Doherty — will be released in the U.S.
In Canada, the album, which is half-way to gold (40,000), has spawned three singles to date — the title track, which reached No. 1 at rock radio; “Wolves,” which went top 5 and the new one, “A Million Days,” currently in the top 10.
As Big Wreck — Thornley, Doherty, guitarist Paula Neta, bassist Dave McMillan and drummer Brad Park (Chris Henry played on the album) — the band toured Canada all last year and if all goes according to plan, they will do the same this year across the border. But even though it’s been a while since they recorded the songs on Albatross, they are sticking fairly true to their arrangements live, says Thornley.
“The new songs — the stuff off Albatross — we’re leaving them alone, as opposed to the usual, my thing, which is playing with it too much and turning it into something else. We leave those alone and then we take the older ones and start putting those under the rolling pin and see what pops up. I’m sure when we do another record then those ones are ripe for the picking.”
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The Toronto-based singer-guitarist, who formed Big Wreck in 1994 while at school at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, released two albums under his surname following the demise of Big Wreck — 2004’s Come Again and 2009’s Tiny Pictures. Then in 2010, he placed a long-overdue hello call to his former friend and bandmate Doherty, who had married a Canadian and was living in Sarnia, Ont.
“I hadn’t talked to him in years and years,” says Thornley. “I just really felt like it was sore spot and I’ve grown up a little bit and figured it was time to offer up an olive branch. (When I did) it was picked up where we left off.
“And then Paulo couldn’t make a Thornley show because he was gonna be in Portugal and he was the one who suggested, ‘Why don’t you get Brian to fill in because you guys have been hanging out?’ Then (came) the idea to do that tour of Big Wreck and Thornley music and from there, I was like, well I really like the sound of three guitars and the band was really starting to gel.”
In late 2010, they toured Canada under the banner “An Evening with Thornley and Big Wreck,” then Thornley went back in the studio to record his next album, helming the production with engineer/mixer Eric Ratz (Billy Talent, Cancer Bats). Doherty, Neta, McMillan and Henry joined him.
As Thornley tells it, it wasn’t a Big Wreck album at that point. “I think we’d initially gone in the studio and I think we were going to call it Ian Thornley. I think it was (executive producer) Nick Rasculinecz that brought it up first: ‘You guys should call this Big Wreck, it would be great.’”
While Big Wreck is fully game to work Albatross for another year thoughts of the next album are starting to percolate.
“Of course I’m itching (to write and record) because I’ve been living with it for a while,” Thornley says. “I have many other ideas that I want to get out and start messing with, but there’s still a lot of work to be done, I think.”