Thundercat on How Bill Murray and Loss Inspired ‘Apocalypse’

Thundercat photo courtesy of Brainfeeder.

Los Angeles bassist Thundercat says that he hasn’t changed since childhood — after all, he named himself after his favorite ’80s cartoon. In a broad sense he takes after his mother. “[She] still has blue and purple hair, even though she’s in her late 50s,” he says.

After one listen through his 2011 debut — “[a] Sun Ra-meets-Jaco Pastorius-meets-Roy Ayers psychedelic jazz head trip,” Hive said — his mother helped name it The Golden Age of the Apocalypse. Last month, while performing in Atlanta, Thundercat revealed that another loved one — a close friend who recently passed away — also helped him make sense of his next record.

Co-written and co-produced by Brainfeeder affiliates Flying Lotus and Mono/Poly, Apocalypse’s current singles show that Thundercat’s loss has changed him, but hasn’t weighed him down. While “Heartbreaks + Setbacks” is a propulsive R&B plea, funky Off the Wall update “Oh Sheit It’s X” inspires him to slip into a falsetto croon and sing, “Oh shit, I fucked up” — even though he doesn’t.

Thundercat chatted with Hive about his new album, his cat and why his trip to Atlanta nearly made him cry. Hint: It’s cartoon-related.

You must be a pop culture junkie. What are some of your recent obsessions?

What I’ve been into lately has been Adult Swim and Cartoon Network. I’m kind of a simple guy. The best way you can describe it is, I’m the same person I was when I was a kid. Everyone’s like, “Of course you are,” but I’m like, “No, seriously.” I liked ThunderCats when I was a kid; I call myself Thundercat now. I was playing bass when I was a kid; I play bass now. I used to draw pictures when I was a kid, and I draw pictures now. I talked backwards and weird when I was a kid, and I talk backwards now.

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