Thundercat performs in The Current studio, talks Prince, 'Drunk'

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Thundercat performing live in The Current studio (MPR / Nate Ryan)
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Thundercat performs in The Current studio (full session and interview)
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  • Thundercat performs in The Current studio (full session and interview) 25:39
  • Thundercat - Tron Song (Live on The Current) 04:51
  • Thundercat - Tron Song Suite II (Live on The Current) 04:22
  • Thundercat - Jethro (Live on The Current) 04:21

"From the moment that [Kendrick Lamar] called me to play bass to the part where he's telling me to sing this on this song, it was monstrous, man."

GRAMMY award-winner Thundercat (aka Stephen Bruner) and his bandmates — drummer Justin Brown and pianist Dennis Hamm — stopped by The Current to chat with host Mac Wilson and to perform songs off his new album, Drunk, live in-studio.

Recalling the moment immediately following his GRAMMY win for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, Thundercat said, "It was trippy because I texted him after and I was like, 'Yo dude, we won one,' and he was like, 'Tight.'"

Both Thundercat's mom and dad were at the 2016 GRAMMY ceremony when he accepted the award, a powerful moment for a musician whose passion was encouraged growing up in a creative household. His father often played Billy Cobham, no doubt inspiring Thundercat's brother, drummer Ronald Bruner Jr., who played with Prince.

After revealing that his favorite Prince song is "My Love Is Forever" off 1978's For You ("It seemed like a more innocent Prince. ... That's a guy who's in love with life"), Thundercat remembers a Prince rehearsal story his brother shared with him:

Andrew Gouche was slapping bass so much that Prince walked over to him and unplugged his bass and told him to go sit down and call [Ida Nielsen] from [3RDEYEGIRL] to get up and play. [laughs] Promptly after that, [Prince] walked over to Ronald and said something like, 'I like what you're doing between the hi-hat and the ride,' and he did this spin and walked off. It was like everything embodied in one moment. [laughs]

Speaking of legends, Thundercat recruited Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald to collaborate on a Drunk cut. "It was a bit overwhelming when it actually happened," added Thundercat, "to see the two of them writing together. They're on the same wavelength."

On the cover of Drunk, shot by Eddie Alcazar, Thundercat is submerged in water. "That's kinda how it feels, that you can't breathe nowadays," said Thundercat. "Feels like you don't know what's going on and you have this much air to breathe."

"You have to be here with what's going on now, even if it's weird. You have to exist in it and you have to embrace it, and you have to be able to try to see further and behind."

Songs Performed

"Tron Song"
"A Fan's Mail (Tron Song Suite II)"
"Jethro"

"A Fan's Mail (Tron Song Suite II)" and "Jethro" are off Thundercat's Drunk album, out now via Brainfeeder. "Tron Song" is off 2013's Apocalypse.

Hosted by Mac Wilson
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Mike DeMark
Visuals by Nate Ryan
Web feature by Leah Garaas

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8 Photos

  • Thundercat
    Thundercat and his band performing live in The Current studio (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Thundercat
    Thundercat in The Current studio (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Thundercat
    Dennis Hamm performing with Thundercat live in The Current studio (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Thundercat
    Drummer Justin Brown performing with Thundercat live in The Current studio (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Thundercat
    Drummer Justin Brown performing with Thundercat live in The Current studio (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Thundercat
    Thundercat performing live in The Current studio (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Thundercat
    Thundercat performing live in The Current studio (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Thundercat
    Thundercat performing live in The Current studio (MPR / Nate Ryan)

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