THRUST – A Talk With RON COOKE (Guitars)

Posted on July 9th. 2018

Questionnaire by Stefan on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM

Ron Cooke

My passion, dignity and interest in hard rock and metal music from the 80’s persists and this will remain as long as I live, that’s for sure ! Making a list of all good bands from that period is almost impossible but true fact is that, in my opinion, the best of hard rock and metal was made in bygone times and I really don’t care if you’re agree with me or not. Especially the American scene fascinated and still impresses me, now multiple decades later on.

Thrust from Chicago, Illinois is one of those underrated bands released the great “Fist Held High” effort back in 1984, afterwards it became deathly quiet and when time passed by, founder/guitarist Ron Cooke fought hard to blow new life into the fold. He succeeded and recruited a whole bunch of new musicians able to get Thrust on the map.

Feel honored myself to take on the next conversation with Ron, I will dig into the early days of Thrust as I will talk about the band’s new album “Harvest Of Souls” and future plans. Here we go…

Stefan: I may be called you welcome here at MTI – first things first, congratz from the heart with the new album “Harvest Of Souls” I want to talk about a bit later on. To start, I want to take you to the origin of the band… who’s the founder, when the activation took place, a bit of background information regarding the very first lineup,…

Ron: Hi Stefan, thank you!! I Founded the band in 1981 in Chicago, IL. Thrust started the metal scene by opening for such acts as Motorhead, Michael Schenker, and Twisted Sister and Slayer. After gathering a quick and large following, THRUST began headlining and was signed to ERECT RECORDS releasing the classic “LIVE EP- ”ROCK FOR POLAND” in front of 10,000 metal maniacs. Thrust was then signed to METAL BLADE RECORDS and recorded “DESTRUCTOR” on the classic ”METAL MASSACRE 4″ album and soon was opening for JUDAS PRIEST on the Screaming for Vengeance tour. THRUST then released their debut album with Metal Blade Records called “FIST HELD HIGH” which became a cult classic.

In celebration of THRUST’s 35th anniversary, Metal Blade Records released the ultimate edition of the band’s classical 1984 album “Fist Held High”… Including the entire album, with live and demo tracks from the beginning until the late 80’s, plus the UNRELEASED studio album, “REINCARNATION” produced and Engineered by Pat Regan and Bob Kulick! THRUST played the 2016 Keep It True Festival in Germany to a sold out crowd with an overwhelming welcome, followed by another sold out night at Frost and Fire Festival in Ventura CA, then went on to the Up The Hammers Festival in Athens Greece, where they were welcomed by metal fans from all over the world! THRUST has finished a new album entitled “Harvest of Souls” and cant wait to bring it to you in early 2018!!! THRUST is primed and ready to bring their “In your face”, arena ready show, to a new generation of rockers around the world!

Stefan: Who came on with the moniker Thrust… is there a particular message hidden behind this band name?

Ron: I came up with the name. It just fit perfect with the sound of the band and everybody love it.


Stefan: What were the predetermined ambitions/first plans to realize with the band?

Ron: Just to writhe the best songs we could and to secure a record deal.


Stefan: When did you show up with the thought, “Let’s set up a metal band, I will handle the guitar duties” ? Who were your own idols at that time, bands you looked up too?

Ron: I was just starting to play guitar and was blown away with metal music so it was just a natural extension of what I was into at the time. I looked up to Black Sabbath, Kiss, UFO, Judas Priest etcetera.


Stefan: “Solidarnosc Rock For Poland” can be defined as Thrust’s first recording ever, right? An Erect Records product, actually a split album with a band I never heard of named Lazer House. Give me some more clarity on the style of both bands Ron.

Ron: Solidarnosc Rock For Poland was a huge concert over 3k people. We were asked to Headline with the Lazor band they were rock and we were Metal so it was a good mix. Later we found out that Erect Records  was releasing it as an  A album.


Stefan: Afterwards Thrust recorded a few demo’s in 1983, the same year you contributed on Metal Massacre IV with the song ‘Destructer’. One of the best metal series ever been released through Metal Blade Records and legendary producer Brain Slagel. How did the collaboration come about?

Ron: Brian Slagel heard of us and ask us to be on the compilation album.

Thrust 2018

Stefan: Thrust’s first full length, very underrated effort “Fist Held High” appeared about a year later on… still one of my all time favorite US metal albums. In what way did you undergo this period, I want to ask your opinion about the musical style and quality of this album?

Ron: I love this album it’s a great testimony to the times and the metal explosion in America at the time. Who would have thought it would be a classic 30 plus years later???


Stefan: Who wrote the songs and what about the subjects of the lyrics… which topics were handled and for what particular reason?

Ron: I wrote most of the music .It just comes from the heart. No rules or topics we just play and it’s what comes out of our soul.


Stefan: To promote you had to go down the road playing as much as possible gigs I suppose, name me a few bands Thrust shared the stage with those days Ron. Were some of the performances worthy to mention the word ‘memorable’?

Ron: Yes we played with Judas Priest, Motörhead, Slayer, Twisted Sister, Michael Schenker, etc……Some really, really great metal shows.


Stefan: As happened to many bands from the 80s, the release of a beautiful record was followed by a dull silence. Also Thrust had to deal with this kind of situation, after the “Fist Held High”, it turned out that you were missing from the radar for many years…. Would you explain what happened?

Ron: Yes the band broke up for a while.


Thrust at Keep It True Festival

Stefan: Back in 2002, “Invitation To Insanity” appeared on the metal horizon which was actually the return of Thrust featuring a couple new guys. What were the ambitions at that moment?

Ron: We had lots of request to reform and put out an album so we did it ourselves. We recorded the album in my house and released it ourselves. A true bootleg.


Stefan: And again, there was an absence of 13 years when you released two compilations in the same year, 2015. Why it took so long actually?

Ron: Well things happen in life we were not together and we were raising families, etc…..Than we got the call to do the reissue and the Keep It True Festival in Germany and everything came full circle again. Thanks to the fans for putting us back together.


Stefan: I guess that plans were already being made for a brand new album and that these two compilation CDs were meant to serve the fans  some kind of an appetizer… right or wrong?

Ron: Naa, we didn’t know anything was gonna happened. The “Ultimate 35TH Band Anniversary Collection ”Fist Held High/Reincarnation” came out and the phone was ringing for us to tour again.


Stefan: And indeed, three years later Thrust was back with ten new songs added to the track list of “Harvest Of Souls”. Heard, reviewed and approved the end result of this new album, first I’d like to know how you guys came in touch with Pure Steel Records who released the piece. Tell me about please?

Ron: We were approached by every metal label but chose Pure Steel Records. They seem to be the most enthusiastic and we really liked what they were about and what they were doing.


Stefan: From this, I infer that Metal Blade Records seems no longer interested in Thrust or is this a wrong interpretation from my side?

Ron: Nope, there still selling all the album like crazy!! It was just time to move on and try something different.


Stefan: Main fact to me is that one of my all-time US metal acts are back in the running, with new album I really like. First on, give me some briefing background history on the current line-up.

Ron: We the band musicians we have all been playing together for over 25 years…Ray, Joe, Angel and myself. Eric the singer is the new kid on the block he has been in the band for about 2 years now.


Stefan: Where the album has been recorded and who was responsible for the production, mastering, mixing duties and stuff?

Ron: We recorded it at Platinum Studios in Los Angeles and mastered it in Austria. We produced this album ourselves.


Stefan: Nice artwork too Ron, who’s the creator of it and what about the lyrical content of the songs. Guide me through some of the songs please, lyrical wise.

Ron: Jan at Darkgrove. He took out ideas and really made a killer cover. Well, all the songs fit around the topic “Harvest Of Souls”. From ‘Deceiver’ to ‘One Step From The Grave’.


Stefan: By the way, who’s the writer in Thrust?

Ron: We all write the songs together.


Stefan: As you have been able to read in my review, I am very pleased with the end result of Harvest Of Souls but yet, I would like to ask you if you guys are agree with my point of view.

Ron: Yes it’s the best THRUST album…….yet.


Stefan: Tough one Ron, which one do you prefer… “Fist Held High” or “Harvest Of Souls”? You may also state where the preference comes from, speak frankly !

Ron: I love them both the same. True testimony of my music life.


Stefan: In regards to increasing sales figures, can we speak of a real success so far?

Ron: Yes the album frankly is blowing up!!! We are sincerely grateful to the fans.


Stefan: Mostly when a band brings out a new album there will be Tour of several gigs coming up as well. With the eye of live performances, what to expect the next couple of weeks/months?

Ron: We will be doing a lot of shows coming up now. You can check our website for all the dates.


Stefan: We both experienced the 80s metal movements ourselves and in my opinion, I would like to return to the scene immediately if that should be possible. There were better bands playing fingers to the bone to reach for their goal.

No digital bullshit, all was pure and simple… all came straight from the heart and most important, we were all one big family walking through fire and flame when it was needed! May I ask for your opinion about the almighty 80s metal era?

Ron: I agree we were all saying the metal flag together. A true crusade and it still flying!!!


Stefan: Running outta questions, I have to end this conversation but not before say Thank You for the well appreciated co-operation Ron. Glad and honored to have you on board here at Metal To Infinity, do you have some final words before ending? If so, go for it brother and keep Thrust alive and kicking !

Ron: Well thanks for having me and a big THANK YOU to the fans who kept us alive.We are forever grateful thank you and we love you all for the support all these years.