I have been listening to heavy metal music since I was a teenager (so a long time). Back when the genre first caught my ear, most of what I listened to were different shades of "I'm so angry!" These days? My tastes are a lot nerdier.
Swords! Magic! Dragons! Castles! The more of that a band can slather over their music, the better. Luckily, the world of metal music has no lack of bands that use those ideas as the pillars of their songwriting. Finding a band that does it in a memorable way? That's where things get tricky. Most just settle for playing really fast and picking whichever singer they can find with the highest falsetto.
Enter Throne of Iron. A three-piece metal band based in Indiana signed with No Remorse Records, Throne of Iron writes fantasy-themed heavy metal with a gruff sound straight out of the 1980s. Band founder Tucker Thomasson was recently kind enough to answer a few questions for me about the band, its music, and its plans for the near future.
Stew Shearer: Tell me about Throne of Iron! How did the band first come to be?
Tucker Thomasson: The argument could be made that there were two starting points for Throne of Iron. The first being when I was thirteen and just getting into '80s heavy metal and also finding an older cousin's Dungeons & Dragons manuals, and the two cross-pollinating. The actual start date was 2018 after I had helped Corwin, our guitar player, move into an apartment and I got a little drunk and decided that I wanted to write this kind of music after having never tried my hand at it.
That night I wrote and recorded the three songs for the 2018 demo, and two days later I uploaded the demo to Bandcamp. The response to the demo was massive and I never could have seen it coming. About two weeks later I got a message from No Remorse Records asking if we would be interested in releasing a couple full links through them, to which we answered an enthusiastic yes. No Remorse was the only label that I wanted to work with.
So after I got that message, I got Corwin and Jacob, my drummer from my old band Thorr-Axe, to join me in this endeavor. And it's been the three of us consistently ever since.
SS: Your songs are packed with tabletop RPG references. Can you tell me more about your collective experience with TTRPGs, D&D, and that whole wide wonderful world of gaming?
TT: We all arrived at tabletop gaming in different ways and at different times. I was always just kind of in the orbit of it, through older cousins and other guys who played when they were younger in the '80s. I didn't actually start getting into tabletop gaming until my twenties. Jacob was about the same. Corwin, on the other hand, got into tabletop gaming probably through osmosis, because his dad played them when he was younger.
SS: Does the band play RPGs together?
TT: We do play RPGs together! We are all pretty into Dungeon Crawl Classics from Goodman Games. Corwin and I were part of a 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons game over Zoom with our artist David Paul Seymour along with Adam from Wartroll and Brian from The Budos Band. That campaign has since come to an end, so I do think that we are going to try to start something either in Dungeon Crawl Classics or Old School Essentials.
SS: Who would you describe as your biggest musical influences?
TT: Corwin and Jacob were raised on ‘80s metal and I came to it in my very early teens. Accept, WASP, and Iron Maiden usually come up, but I was also listening to a lot of Mercyful Fate, and Corwin was fixated on King Diamond. Jacob and I were both into ‘80s thrash— specifically Testament.
SS: You released your debut album Adventure One back in 2020 and have since released two follow-up EPs. Any plans for what’s next?
TT: We are nearing completion on our second full-length with No Remorse, titled Adventure 2. We also have three more releases in the works to [split things up], and one less conventional EP. Details on all of those will come in due time.
SS: Part of the appeal of your music, to me, has been how different you sound from a lot of other fantasy-themed bands. I feel like a lot of modern metal bands are a bit too polished for their own good. There's a "rough" quality to Throne of Iron that reminds me of 1980s metal bands in the best possible way. What's your take on that idea?
TT: The production of Throne of Iron is extremely intentional because we do all of our own engineering and mixing. I've always seen, especially in the modern era, production to be almost an aesthetic choice. Barring the actual skill of the engineer or the person mixing the release, I think that everything else is purely a choice to frame or present the music in a specific way.
I think that production is just as important of lending context to music as artwork or the band's overall image. And in regards to that, I have always pictured Throne of Iron coming from the standpoint of an early 80s type of sound. I strive to capture that as best I can whenever I record or mix anything that we've done.
Other bands do modern production extremely well, and I will never discount it for anyone. It just simply isn't for us. I think that if we are trying to emulate sound from 40 years ago, then we should really be trying to do that beyond simply the approach to writing the music. In fact, I would say that we tend to lean more into the production side of things more than on the songwriting side, simply because we put some elements in our music that other traditional heavy metal bands don't seem to.
SS: How would you say your song-writing has evolved since that initial 2018 demo?
TT: When I first wrote the 2018 demo, I was the only songwriter. Because I was the only member of the band. Now that there are three of us contributing to the direction of the band, we kind of have the ability to veto, offer suggestions, or springboard off of each other when it comes to songwriting. It's definitely more of a democratic process. Although, there are still plenty of times where one of us will completely write a song from the bottom up.
I have found that we integrate more diverse ideas into the music than when we first started, kind of branching out from the framework that we were given of early-80s heavy and speed metal. We all come from extreme metal backgrounds in our previous bands, so some of that has steadily begun bleeding into the music. Because of our love of Dungeons & Dragons you're going to be hearing a little bit more of that in some of the music as well, not just from the instrumentation but also from the standpoint of melodic content.
SS: Can I ask you about the filming of the Lichspire music video? That video was my intro to Throne of Iron and it looks like it was a blast to put together! Anything fun or special you can recall about that?
TT: The idea for the overall story of the Lichspire video came to me pretty much from the moment the band started and fully formed together.
In the beginning it was just me, but very quickly Jacob and Corwin joined, and then we had our friend Evan playing bass for us. So we kind of weaved that into the story of the music video, where the three of us playing the game and looking for a Healer character, which is what Evan brought to the table.
A fun detail in the music video, is that Evan is on the phone when he shows up late in the music video. He actually did show up late for the first day of shooting when we did most of the performance shots. So the first day was all performance, with us just playing the song a million times over and over and Jacob's basement. And the second day of filming was all of the gaming table and LARPing shots. All of those were done in Jacob's backyard.
The dungeon master was played by friend of the band and my guitar teacher Marv Druin. The beefy Lich was played by our friend Alex who I used to compete in Highland Games with. Alex makes another appearance in our music video for The Power of Will and I'm sure that he'll be in more to come. The character of my mom who yells at me at the end of the music video actually is my mom, by the way.
SS: You have released several tracks using a "Roll for Metal" method. Could you explain how that works?
TT: So the way that "Roll for Metal Works" is that I picked some of my favorite Midi drum grooves from a few packs made by The Finnish American company Ugritone. I assigned an arbitrary numerical value to each specific one, did the same thing for a tempo for the song, and then rolled dice to create a song structure based off of those assigned drum grooves.
Putting those down as a skeleton, I would then have to improvise riffs on top of them. Then, using an Excel spreadsheet made by Dave from DMR Books, lyrics would get randomly generated, and then I would have to come up with a vocal melody and the timing to put those lyrics down, regardless of how nonsensical they were. It's just a fun pallet-cleansing exercise for songwriting.
SS: It sounds like you guys have a lot of experience performing in other bands. Where could we find some of that previous music?
TT: Our previous stuff is all over Bandcamp and Spotify and all the other streaming stuff. Jacob and I's stoner sludge band that we were together in since 2012 was called Thorr-Ade. We released two full length albums, an EP, and two splits in the time we were a band.
On top of that, I had a black metal band called Avakr that released a four song EP, an Always Sunny In Philadelphia themed power violence band called Crowtein, and a very abrasive sludge band called Goat Titan, all with releases in Bandcamp.
Corwin and I have resurrected a band of his from when we first met called Thanasphere, which is like 2000s melodeath with a pulp sci-fi image.
Jacob also plays drums in a blackened thrash band called Graveripper who have been doing awesome things.
SS: Thanks so much for answering my questions!