ThundHerStruck


Thunderstruck
(Courtesy ThundHerStruck)

Interviews:

Stephanie Leigh

Tina Wood

ThundHerStruck is definitely a "High Voltage" tribute band.

The all-female AC/DC tribute has taken its message of "Let There Be Rock" to audiences from its home base of Los Angeles to the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as Germany, Wales and across the U.S.A. Rather than concentrating its efforts on any one of the two eras in AC/DC history (the "Bon Scott era" or the "Brian Johnson era"), ThundHerStruck plays material from both with equal energy.

The core of the band, singer Dyna Shirasaki ("Bon Johnson"), lead guitarist Tina Wood ("Angus") and drummer Stephanie Leigh ("Rudd-ster"), have worked together in bands dating back to the late 80s.

Wood, a certified guitar luthier from England, brought her band No Shame to Los Angeles shortly after securing a record contract with CBS in the mid-80s, and the band found itself in need of a drummer shortly thereafter.


Dyna Shirasaki (Courtesy ThundHerStruck)

The band found that drummer in the form of Leigh, who had just disbanded her own band, Damzel. The two became fast friends and continued to play together after the demise of No Shame.


Live CD, from 1998

Shirasaki had played with numerous bands in her native Texas before moving west, and played bass in Phantom Blue, whose lineup also included Wood. When she was contacted by beer company Anheuser-Busch to assemble a group to play several corporate events (including warmup parties before the 1999 Super Bowl), the band, including Shirasaki, Wood and Leigh, became The Party Girls.

A couple of years later, when Shirasaki's Heart tribute band ("Ann Wilson is my idol," she said) fizzled, she called Wood and Leigh to join her in an AC/DC tribute band. After Andrea Zermeno ("Cliff"), a native Los Angelina who studied under legendary session bassist Carol Kaye, joined the band,things began to progress far beyond their expectations.

Not that everything was rosy, or even a whole lotta rosie. A protracted legal matter ensued with a former member, and the four continued the AC/DC tribute, but with a new name. Thus, they became ThundHerStruck, although they quickly picked up where they left off.

With the new name came a new "Malcolm," in the form of rhythm guitarist Carin Toti, a Virginia native who had played guitar and bass in several L.A. area bands in addition to composing original material.

The band has netted a number of endorsements from such manufacturers as ESP guitars and basses, Electro-Voice microphones, Seymour Duncan, Aguilar bass amps, Pearl drums and others, and has performed at the NAMM manufacturers convention and the MusikMesse event in Germany.

Outside the band, Wood continues to be a highly-respected guitar repair technician, Zermeno has worked with an original band, Boink, and more recently with Swedish musician Flash Feruccio, and Toti continues to write original material. Shirasaki has also recorded solo (and plans another solo release) and continues her work toward a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology at UCLA.

ThundHerStruck's credits are far too long to list here, but the band has opened for the likes of Foreigner, played several festivals across the U.S. (including 2004's Rockin' the Rivers Festival in Montana and Harley Davidson's "Summer Blast" in California, 2005's Wheatland Jam in Kansas and 2006's Moondance Jam in Minnesota and a return to Rockin' the Rivers) over the last few years, recorded a CD, You've Been ThundHerStruck, which was released in the spring of 2006, and (with Cheap Chick, the Iron Maidens, Mistress of Reality and others) contributed to the compilation CD Girls Got Rhythm, released in August of '06.

The band has also proudly toured to the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq to perform for U.S. military personnel, which they consider among their greatest achievements.ThundHerStruck was also part of 2005's "The Big Ball," an AC/DC fan convention in Wales, and played at benefit events for the Dimebag Darrell Foundation, L.A. area schools and Hurricane Katrina relief.


(Courtesy ThundHerStruck)


Brian and Dyna (Courtesy ThundHerStruck)

ThundHerStruck obviously has great respect and admiration for AC/DC, and the feeling seems to be mutual. Former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade actually joined the band, filling in for Leigh on an occasion, and members of the band have also met Simon Wright (another former AC/DC drummer) and Brian Johnson, the latter at a club in Los Angeles. Of the meeting, "He kept saying, 'You are too beautiful to be me,'" Shirasaki recalled. "I feel a little weird saying that because it pertains to myself, but I thought I'd mention it because it was pretty frickin' funny hearing him say that, with his accent and all."

Although, at this point, they're still looking for that jam session with the Young brothers.

From Dyna's respect for both AC/DC singers (she wears the trademark cap for Johnson vocals and removes it for Scott's), to Tina's own version of the school uniform and close attention to detail in replicating Angus' lead guitar lines, to the solid rhythm foundation provided by Stephanie, Carin and Andrea, ThundHerStruck has managed to convert many skeptics as to whether women could handle playing AC/DC music.

It may be a long way to the top, if you want to rock and roll, but ThundHerStruck has managed to carve its own path in the world of tribute bands to create a reputation for solid, energetic performances that has reached international status.

Thunderstruck
(Courtesy ThundHerStruck)