Sexual Thunder! to celebrate, perform at album release party

Laura Rostad, Associate Arcade Editor

The members of funk band Sexual Thunder! pride themselves on wearing groovy costumes. During performances, five men jam out on stage outfitted in eclectic fashions, ranging from a bare-chested guitarist adorned with a pink boa and star-shaped sunglasses to a saxophone player sporting ski goggles, suspenders, polka dot shorts and a purple fedora.

The custom began a few years ago, when the group decided to get decked out in funky apparel for a Mardi Gras show.

“We thought, ‘We have to keep this because it makes us feel like Sexual Thunder!,’” guitarist George Wilde said.

The band will play 9 p.m. Saturday at One Eyed Jack’s to celebrate the release of its debut album, “Cheek Sweat.” Especially for the occasion, the group will be accompanied by a full horn section of trombone, trumpet and saxophone players.

The band consists entirely of Tulane alumni, including saxophone player Ari Kohn, bassist Rob Hinson, drummer Dillon Frazier, keyboard player Black Letters and guitarist George Wilde.

Its record also features Naughty Professor’s trumpet player John Culbreth and slam poetry by spoken-word artist FreeQuency.

The group spent around a year recording at Parlor Recording Studios in New Orleans with the assistance of sound engineer Eric Heigle.

“We went into the studio with a few songs, but we wanted to do more than just record how we play, we wanted to work on it and craft our sound,” Wilde said. “His knowledge gives us so much guidance.”

All band members contribute to Sexual Thunder!’s varied vocals. The group rotates among different singing styles: creating harmonies, singing in unison and using a call and response method.

“The sound is really collective, and that’s definitely a feature of the way the band works together.” Wilde said. “There isn’t a lead voice that’s always on top, or always most important. When we started singing, it was just chanting and yelling. We realized that we could sound so much better, and also that there’s a ton of opportunity with five voices to try different things.”

The members met during their first year at Tulane, but it was not until a few years later that they made their debut as Sexual Thunder!.

“The first time we played we we’re like ‘This is definitely the five. This is the band, right here,’” Wilde said. “It took some time to get the momentum going. Different members of the band went out of town and studied abroad for long periods of time. We didn’t really start playing as a group with consistency until around the fall of 2012.”

As the band started to become more of a serious endeavor, the name Sexual Thunder! took on new meaning.

“When we started, [the name] was definitely more of a joke, but over time we realized it’s a statement,” Wilde said. “I know for myself that I’ve realized sex and identity are a huge part of our culture, but we don’t talk about it.”

Despite numerous recommendations that the band should change its name, Sexual Thunder! stuck around. Only later, however, was the all-important exclamation point added.

The band draws on a range of music styles for inspiration, largely funk, jazz and hip-hop.

“It’s kind of like if Parliament Funkadelic and Maroon 5 went and listened to Prince records for a while, and then watched some James Brown videos,” Wilde said.

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