Thunder (right) and Road Soda are tighter than ever. But not too tight. Photo by Jeff Prince.

A rock ’n’ roll scream is a beautiful thing, and Jack Thunder & The Road Soda can shriek with the best of them. Their throats are probably still raw after recording JT&RS, their blistering debut recording. All seven songs offer a 1960s sensibility (distorted, twangy guitars with lots of reverb) that veers off into outer space frequently. Splash battery acid over everything, and now you’re in Thunder world.

These two Fort Worth guys –– Preston Newberry and Todd Klepacki –– create a wall of musical noise using nothing but a small drum set, electric guitars, a megaphone, ominous chord structures and lyrics, and primal eruptions in just the right places. Hey, rock ain’t rocket science. Fort Worth’s funkiest duo looks cool, sounds great, and gets the job done with a surprisingly primitive setup and minimal fuss.

And they’re unpredictable. I saw them at The Grotto two years ago. Newberry, the stand-up guitarist and vocalist, wore a dress and an Afro wig. Klepacki, the sit-down drummer/guitarist, wore a giant cowboy hat that must have been four feet wide from brim to brim. The guys were sloppy and maybe even a little drunk, and the set veered from really good to pretty bad and back, but overall it was great rock-punk-glam fun. Newberry is a long, lean, dark-featured wild man who pounds his guitar, goes on stomp box-fueled sonic trips, jams shirtless onstage, and provides a dark, dangerous face to the brooding lyrics. The lighter and cheerier Klepacki holds down the bottom end using foot pedals for the bass and snare drums, plays a baritone guitar, and belts out vocals and harmonies. The musicians contrast and complement each other nicely.


The EP was recorded, at Eagle Audio Recording with producer Britt Robisheaux (Bludded Head, Drug Mountain, Spacebeach), in the same stripped-down way. The musicians grabbed their instruments, set up their rigs so that they were facing each other, and went through the songs quickly. The record was done in one seven-hour session with little overdubbing.

“We wanted the record to sound like we do live,” Newberry said.

The two twentysomething musicians have been writing and playing for a while. When they’re not jamming together, Klepacki performs solo, and Newberry is the frontman of The Fibs. As Jack Thunder & The Road Soda, they amassed about 30 strong songs for shows but had yet to record any. Once in the studio, the guys narrowed their track list down to a handful of the newest and freshest and banged them out in the same damn-the-torpedoes way they approach the stage.

The first song, “Captain Adaptive,” starts with a weird noise (sounds like someone hammering electric guitar strings with a pick), slowly builds into a steady rock groove, devolves into chaos, goes back to the groove, and ends with more weird noises. Cool song, although the next, “6’4”,” is fantastic (and might have been a better opening number). The lyrics are screamed/spat with maniacal venom that’s thrilling to hear. From the opening scratchy guitar chord to the final drum crash and hypothetical question muttered into a mic –– “Is she a wife or is she a whore?” –– the song is completely catchy and badass. The song was inspired by a couple of swingers asking Thunder to get naughty with them one night. (Ever the gentleman, he politely declined.)

[box_info]Jack Thunder & The Road Soda album release party
8pm Sat w/Fungi Girls, War Party, The Thyroids, and Jenny Robinson at 1912 Nite-Club, 1912 Hemphill St, FW. $5.

The rest of the album is equally evocative and primitive, with a few minor stumbles in the studio doing little to stand in the way of some damn fine rock. JT&RS is coming out this week and will be released on Dreamy Life Records, a label that seems to be taking over the world as it steadily releases music by some of the city’s most intriguing acts, including War Party, Andy Pickett, and Vincent Neil Emerson.

Thunder and Road Soda are tighter than they were when I saw them two years ago –– but not too tight, fortunately. Sloppiness is part of their charm. They attack their instruments, vocal parts, and local stages with the fierceness of two rebels raising musical hell. They’ve put together a punkarific project whose positives far outweigh its negatives. And, damn, those screams are gnarly.