While it may be true that Thomas Lorello took his Tommie Sunshine moniker from an orange tab of LSD, his lips haven't parted for even a drop of the devil's poison in years. But make no mistake, the man who can remix John Acquaviva and Fall Out Boy with equal aplomb is not exactly known for being tight-lipped. He tears down Brooklyn's "haircut hipsters" and, in Rave America, openly discusses the heavy narcotic ingestion in his past. Without a hint of contrition, he says, "Life is too short to regret anything and being an unopinionated kiss-ass just makes you a sucker."
It wasn't ass-kissing that compelled Felix da Housecat to ask Sunshine—prone, unlike most denizens of the DJ booth, to donning Misfits T-shirts—to collaborate on a project, later turning out "Silver Screen (Shower Scene)"; it was his expansive knowledge and boundless love of music. Now having been in the rave and club scenes for the last 16 years, the teetotaling dance-rock pioneer has certainly paved the road for most any DJ mixing the Gossip or Klaxons with punishing house beats these days. To that Sunshine says, "I do what I do because I love to do it. I make art not to create trends, but simply to create." Besides, he has bigger things on his mind than whether he gets props for inspiring an au courant set by Le Castle Vania or Guns'n'Bombs.
Take the message of "Dance Among the Ruins," a self-penned electro-house stomper on which Sunshine sings (along with Peaches) and the first single from the recently released Ultra.Rock Remixed—Ultra's double-disc collection of his prolific output over the last four years. The title itself suggests being motivated to dance in celebration of life whilst the world deteriorates. The lyrics support the idea, with lines such as "Laugh when it's time to cry/Live when it's time to die." While he wrote that song as the World Trade Center buildings crumpled, he held onto it for a while, waiting for the right time. With birth-control riots in China and the US death toll in Iraq reaching its peak last month, Sunshine says we "need a sentiment like 'Dance Among the Ruins' now, as the world around us is clearly falling apart."
He says, "I see the resurgence of techno happening because the world is totally fucked up and needs revolutionary music now more than ever. The [US] is wreaking havoc all over the world, and it is time for the arts to reflect that." So he's not taking credit for any fads nor is he, despite the hairstyle, donning rose-colored glasses. And if pleading "Please, America, get off your fat asses, turn off MySpace and YouTube, stop checking your e-mail, go outside and breathe some fresh air" makes you like him less, well, he's not apologizing.
Get the Music Newsletter