Tora Tora signed with Frontiers Music SRL in 2017 and is currently in legendary Sam Phillips Recording Studio in Memphis, TN with Producer/Engineer Jeff Powell who was assistant engineer on Wild America.
The band was gracious enough to take time and talk with hairbandheaven.rocks about their new album, plans for the 30th anniversary of "Surprise Attack", the music scene in Tennessee and more.
HBH: Firstly, thank you for taking time to talk with us; I really appreciate it.
Tora Tora: Thanks guys!
HBH: I know there are a lot of fans out there that have been waiting a long time for some new Tora Tora material, myself included. What made now the right time for the band to record a new album?
Tora Tora: We were ready! We had talked about it for a while, we had performed in Memphis for a benefit for Patrick in late 2016 and then went onto Monsters of Rock Cruise in early 2017. I believe those moments and playing a few more dates, made us realize we were ready! We were contacted by Frontiers in summer of 2017, signed that fall and they were a perfect fit for us.
HBH: Do you view the new music as an extension of the bands most successful albums “Surprise Attack” & “Wild America”, or in your mind are there clear differences between the music then and now?
Tora Tora: We consider it us, when the four of us get together, we just have our sound. Very much a continued visit with TORA…going to feel familiar we hope!
HBH: Has the way the band approached song writing changed over the years?
Tora Tora: I think the songwriting approach can be different every time. Sometimes it’’s a riff, a solo, or a lyric…we have been having fun in some different tunings and lyrically have new perspective from life experiences so that keeps it exciting. I know I had ideas through the years that I though would be a great fit for a TORA project, I would just stick them in my voice memos or notes, but most all of these were fresh ideas. We have all remained creative, you have to keep your creative outlet open. We all individually bring different influences and perspective to the process. Personally, I have been inspired living in Nashville by all the gifted songwriters. We had a great time, trading voice memos and videos of ourselves playing the arrangements. The majority of the project was written in Memphis at JP’s rehearsal room and Keith’s place. Keith did make a trip to Nashville to hang with me, just for a change of scenery. Honestly, we were just so excited to be writing that the project came together very quickly
HBH: Your recording the new album in Memphis at Sam Phillips Studio, how cool is it recording in place that has so much history?
Tora Tora: It has been an incredible experience. So much history!! Artist like Jerry Lee Lewis to Roy Orbison, The Yardbirds to Robert Plant…we were thrilled to be able to be there together. We were especially thankful to have Jeff Powell producing, he has a long history with our band. He worked with us on Wild America, so he knows us very well personally and creatively. Jeff was the perfect person to have as an outside perspective and guide the process. The Sam Phillips Recording was so us! We were very intentional of making a stripped down project. Wesley Graham and Matt Denham need a hat tip as well. We were all in the room together for tracking, they put in isolation but we could keep eye contact and just jam. We had a blast...
HBH: Do you have a title for the new album yet?
Tora Tora: Hint: #bob
HBH: Tora Tora has been around for over 30 years now and have had the same four original members. There are tons of bands from the 80’s that seem to have a revolving door of musicians, what’s your secret?
Tora Tora: We are family. I have one sister and those guys are my brothers. Keith and Patrick have known each other since they were eight years old. All of us met in high school, so we literally grew up together. Through the good, bad and ugly, they have always been around. Like most relationships that ebb and flow over time, we have had some time away from each other. We stayed connected, we always pick up right where we have left off. We went through as musicians/artist something in life that was like being hit by lighting. We went through the highs and lows together, something very special about getting to go for a dream together. We are lucky (knock on wood), that we have been able to stay friends and get to do something that we love together….the music keeps us together.
HBH: This coming year in 2019 will mark the 30th anniversary of “Surprise Attack”. Does the band at any point throughout 2019 plan on celebrating the release of this record?
Tora Tora: Yes we are working on dates now, we are reaching out to our fans to let us know where we can see them! Such great memories recording that project, we definitely are still proud of these recordings. We owe a lot to our producers Joe Hardy and Paul Ebersold. They did a killer job introducing us to the industry. Those days at Ardent Studios were crazy!!
HBH: Back in the late 80’s there where some great rock bands coming out of Tennessee Tora Tora, Roxy Blue, Every Mothers Nightmare come to mind. I think when most people hear Memphis they think of the blues or Elvis, and Nashville is known as the country music capital. What was the hard rock scene like back in the 80’s, and what’s it like now?
Tora Tora: There was a ton of bands in the Memphis community in the 80s. We had support from local DJs and venues. There were so many talented singers and musicians. All trying to get some exposure. We were competitive but it was a good competition. We knew if one band was doing good and having interest it would help all the others, so we were rooting for each other. I think the music scene in both Memphis and Nashville are in a great place. They are similar, very eclectic. You can walk into any hole in the wall and the musicians will just kick your ass. Overall, the scenes are flourishing, lots of great music and musicians making the move to both cities. Not only from a price of living but for their specific needs and vision. Lots of infrastructure in Nashville, not as corporate feeling in Memphis and living there is inexpensive. Music is great. We are actually playing a show December 29 in Memphis with a band called Dirty Streets. We are fans…they remind me a little of Humble Pie.
HBH: When you look at the music industry we have today are you concerned for the future or do you think the music business is in good shape?
Tora Tora: This is a great question, we have more people that in the history of the world listening to music. Our problem is how to we get their attention, everyone is capable of making music and promotion. Technology has made the world a smaller place, so I think having direct contact with our fans, they are our family, it makes me feels like we are in a good place. We want to share our music with them, get out to play shows and hang with the our tribe, the “TORA TRIBE”. The concerns for most artists/musicians is revenue streams particularly, how we are paid royalties. Legislation is happing especially a win Music Modernization Act moving along to help insure that music-makers/creators get paid. It’s in a transition period, but I just hope that anyone out there that has a passion for making music can be self-sufficient. It is a hard road to being a full time musician. Let’s keep them encouraged and support them.
HBH: ( Anthony ) Your teaching at SAE (The Art Institute of Tennessee) which is located right in the heart of Music Row. Can you talk a little bit about the school and the classes you teach?
Tora Tora: I am Entertainment Business Program Chair, so I am working with students that are brand new to the entertainment industry. We offer an expedited school and hands-on experience that focusing on the student’s area of interest. I teach Survey of Entertainment, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Entertainment Business Models, and Touring.
HBH: Your bass player Patrick Francis diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2016. Can you give us an update on his health?
Tora Tora: Patrick is doing well. We are so happy that all of his latest reports have him ready to rock!
HBH: You guys have the Monsters of Rock Cruise coming up in 2019. How much fun are those, and what can someone who’s never been on the cruise expect?
Tora Tora: We would encourage anyone who is a fellow fan of rock to go on this trip!! We were invited by a friend, April Lee and had to get some of the logistics figured with families, day gigs etc, but it was a great experience. It was non-stop rocking for the entire week and the stops were off the charts last trip. We mentioned finding your tribe, this is the place. Line-ups were awesome, we are fans of all these bands as well. Lots of good times, looking forward to being back soon.
HBH: Once again, congratulations on the upcoming album with Frontiers Records . The band has some amazing songs, I know a lot of people are looking forward to hearing some more kick ass Rock n Roll from Tora Tora. On behalf of everyone at hairbandheaven.rocks I’d like to wish you and the band all the best for the future.
Tora Tora: Appreciate it Josh!
New project #bob first quarter of 2019
Website and Social pages:
Facebook : Tora Tora
All socials toratoraband
Austin Nov 16
Ft Worth Nov 17
Memphis Dec 29
TORA TORA is a blues-based hard rock band formed in Memphis, TN in the late 1980s. Band members include Keith Douglas, Patrick Francis, John Patterson and Anthony Corder. TORA has two major releases Surprise Attack/Wild America through A&M Records that promoted five singles and videos (Walkin’ Shoes, Guilty, Phantom Rider, Amnesia and Faith Healer). The band has six independent releases, The Warehouse Sessions, Bombs Away, Miss B. Haven, Before and After, Revolution Day, and most recently a live performance concert Live from Minglewood, in Memphis #ROCKOUTCANCER.
Anthony Corder (Vocals)
Keith Douglas (Guitar)
Patrick Francis (Bass)
John Patterson (Drums)