Bay Area Local Band Spotlight: Thriving Ivory

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If the name Thriving Ivory sounds familiar, it’s because this local San Francisco band was #1 on Billboard’s “Heatseeker” charts with their certified gold single “Angels on The Moon” back in 2009. After a little bit of a hiatus, the band has just released two new singles that debuted on SiriusXM and will be performing at the Apple Store in Union Square at the end of this week.

Leading up to the show, we connected with singer Clayton Stroope where we chatted about how the band came up with their name, how they describe their sound, and what it feels like to get a hit song on the charts.

How’d you come up with the band name?

That’s a question we used to get all the time when we first started the band. To tell you the truth I don’t really remember exactly. But it was definitely a completely random process. I think we wrote a bunch of random words on a piece of paper and just picked the two that stood out the most and linked them together. I always wished there was some cooler story behind the name, but unfortunately, there’s not. Just thriving Ivory, and no hidden meaning. No elephant tusks, no piano keys…just the name.

How would you describe your sound?

That’s a tough one to answer, but I think I would describe the overall sound as lyric and melody driven piano pop rock. We always liked things to sound big but not overcomplicated. So the piano is always an important aspect of our sound because it gives the music a big over overall sound…then combine that with some guitar, some big drums, and good vocals, and you’ve got something going.

When did you first become interested in playing music?

I’ve always loved music, and I grew up listening to classic rock. But playing music for a living or pursuing it beyond our college days never really became a reality until we started having some success. I was never in any serious bands before Thriving Ivory, so it was really in Thriving Ivory that I really started to enjoy playing music live.

What’s the funniest that’s ever happened to you at a show?

It definitely wasn’t funny at the time, but looking back on it now it always makes me laugh. It’s the main reason why I never use circle based mic stands anymore. On more than one occasion while using a circle based mic stand I accidentally stomped on the base of the stand and violently swung the microphone straight back towards my face. The mic would strike me in the mouth and I even chipped my front tooth once. I had to close my mouth and turn my back to the audience so they couldn’t see that I had just smacked myself in the face. Pretty lame looking back, but that’s why I always use a tripod stand now. Just too dangerous.

What’s was it like to learn that your song “Angels on the Moon” went #1 on Billboard’s “Heatseeker”?

When “Angels on the Moon” started climbing the charts we were really excited. During that time we were touring heavily and visiting just about every radio station in every city we would tour through. It was beyond exciting to see fans’ reaction to the song and to hear ourselves on the radio in different cities. It was a pretty amazing feeling to get such positive feedback on a song that we wrote when we were only 19 and had no idea what we were doing.

What’s your favorite place to eat in the Bay Area?

My culinary tastes are just not that refined, so some people may think this answer is lame. But honestly, my favorite place to eat in the bay area is Umami Burger in downtown Oakland. We first ate at in Umami Burger when we were in Los Angeles. The producer we were working with took us there and it is by far the best hamburger that I’ve ever had to this day. When I found out there was one in Oakland as well, I had to go again.

What do you say to people who think that the music scene in the Bay Area is dead?

I don’t think the music scene anywhere is ever dead really. There will always be some young kids with a new sound, and a new idea getting ready to hit the stage somewhere. Popular music is constantly changing and you just never know what direction it is going to go and from whom it’s going to come. There are just too many people living in the bay area for there not to be a music scene. There are too many creative minds, and too many talented people for their not to be a music scene here.

If you could put your own version of a supergroup, who would be in it and why?

Dang, that’s a tough call. I’m assuming that I would be the singer of the supergroup, although there are so many amazing singers that would blow me away, so I feel a little silly making me the frontman of the supergroup. But maybe I can have Bono with me singing backups at least. Actually, rather than form a super group I think I’d rather just join one. I would love to be in U2. The songs are already amazing, and their live show is incredible. Now that would be an awesome super group to be a part of. But in that case I think I’d have to sing backups for Bono, I mean it is his band after all.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?

Most people would have no idea that as a kid I did voiceover work for a bunch of children’s educational video games. At the time I thought it was pretty cool because I made a lot of money and I ended up buying my first car as a result when I was only 15. I can also beatbox pretty dang good. But that’s something I definitely keep to myself these days and only practice in the shower or when I’m driving alone.

Thriving Ivory plays the Apple Store on 1/26/18. Get all the details HERE.

An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.