Rock band Big Wreck will perform at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre on Sept. 22.

Rock band Big Wreck will perform at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre on Sept. 22.

‘You write what you know’: Big Wreck singer Ian Thornley opens up on new album

You could say Big Wreck singer Ian Thornley has removed another albatross from his neck — rock star “goofiness.” “Once you give up that rock star bulls--t, it’s a whole lot easier to get down and dirty and make music,” stated Thornley on the group’s website.

You could say Big Wreck singer Ian Thornley has removed another albatross from his neck — rock star “goofiness.”

“Once you give up that rock star bulls–t, it’s a whole lot easier to get down and dirty and make music,” stated Thornley on the group’s website.

Big Wreck, which performs on Monday, Sept. 22, at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre, is following up the huge success of the band’s last album, Albatross, with the new CD Ghosts. And Thornley clarified his website comment in a recent interview by saying he took a more thoughtful approach on this new album.

He decided to unload some of the “goofier” song choices, “the ones that didn’t require a lot of thought.”

While Thornley stresses that he still enjoys bands like Van Halen, with their light-hearted Hot for Teacher vibe, he added, “I don’t know if that’s ever been my calling. …

“I love doing the bonehead rock ’n’ roll thing, and for a lot of people it’s fun and it’s great … but it gets tired after a while. …

“When you can do something real and authentic, with more detail and thought, it has more depth and meaning … and it can be satisfying to do that as well.”

He believes Ghosts “opens up a few different things, imagery-wise,” so comes close to being a singer/songwriter album — only with electric guitar, bass and drums pumping up the volume and energy level.

The singer had a lot of control over how the new CD feels, sounds and even looks, with its art-deco cityscape cover art. “Some of the songs are deeply personal and significant,” he said. “Looking back, honestly, I think a lot of my music does dig through stuff, opens old wounds and (maybe) even fresh ones, because you write what you know.”

Thornley joked that songwriting can be a good substitute for a psychiatrist’s couch.

But he isn’t one for revealing hidden meanings of songs, so listeners are on their own in deciphering tunes such as My Life or Come What May. “I like to hear what other people think the meaning is,” said the singer.

His new Big Wreck album features two lengthy behemoths: A Place To Call Home and Still Here both clock in at nearly eight minutes — hardly a radio-friendly format for a band used to getting a decent amount of airplay in Canada — and even the U.S.

But Thornley doesn’t worry about such things as whether an album will have crossover radio appeal. “If recognition and success comes, it’s all great. But I prefer to focus on things I have control over.”

Big Wreck, first formed in 1994 and disbanded in 2002, is on its second lease on life.

The group was reformed in 2010 with a somewhat different membership. Original members Thornley and guitarist Brian Doherty got back on board, and brought on Paulo Neta, another guitarist, as well as bassist Dave McMillan and drummer Chuck Keeping.

The Ontario-based musicians approached the making of their fourth full-length album, Ghosts, with a renewed sense of wonder. Thornley recounted on the band’s website: “Prior to this and before Albatross, I always had to sneak music in somewhere between a designed pop hit. That was never really my bag.

“This time I just sort of said, ‘You know what? I’m going to make an album that I would really, really want to hear and that I’m madly in love with,’ and that’s what we did.”

Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are $46.95 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com