Austin Scholl, better known on the internet as ThornBrain, is a writer, video editor, musician, comedian, Let's Player, and voice actor. He is the head of TheStrawhatNO! and the writer of The Legend of Zelda: Book of the Traitor. He was the head of TheMidnightFrogs and lead writer for Sgt. Frog Abridged, Tamers Abridged, Jetters Abridged.
Information for all of his projects can be found on TheMidnightFrogs' website. Tropes related to those projects and his involvement are on their own pages.
Records as ThornBrain
- BlackholeWhitespace (Album, 2011 - no longer available)
- BlackspaceWorkinprogress (Demo EP, came with downloads of BhWs)
- Saw Beat (Single, 2011)
- The Right Way to do Everything (EP, 2011 - no longer available)
- Lost Effort (Single - no longer available)
- Nobody Cares Unless You're Pretty or Dying (Album, December 2013)
- Spider (Free promo compilation, November 2013)
- ThornBrain is Really Bad at This - The Best of the Worst (2009-2011) (Compilation, November 2014)
- No One Needs Me - The Rest of the Worst (2009 - 2011) (Compilation of everything left off of The Best of the Worst, November 2014)
- Buried Secrets & Old Lies (Album, December 2018)
- Quaero (Free promo compilation, October 2018)
- Worldbuilder (Album, March 2019)
This creator provides examples of:
- The Abridged Series: His best known projects, including SFA, Jetters and Tamers, plus TheMidnightFrogs' one-shots.
- Author Tract: Sexual identity is a frequent subject in his works. Episode 11 of SFA was devoted almost entirely to saying that it's okay to be Bisexual. Trans issues and identity also started popping up in the late-2010s, being a major theme of his album Buried Secrets & Old Lies.
- Bi the Way: Came out in 2011 as Bisexual. In 2013 this was changed to Pansexual, for the sake of specificity. Is also genderfluid.
- Fan Webcomic: The Legend of Zelda: Book of the Traitor.
- Let's Play: TheStrawhatNO!.
- Sprite Comic: Used to make these several years before SFA. He deleted all of them.
- Stage Name: He uses ThornBrain professionally as this, both for YouTube and his music.
His music provides examples of:
- Affectionate Parody: "the shift key is broken and so is my heart" is titled as an affectionate jab at musicians who title their songs, albums and/or band name in all lowercase letters, particularly his friend Patrick's project 'smell', whose first album woof was a big inspiration for Austin returning to music from 2018-on.
- Alternative Dance: Occasionally dips into this field with songs like "Count the Flies in My House", "Face Down Walls", and the Madchester-inspired "Last Minute Thought of a Man on Fire".
- Alternative Rock: His music occupies this general area. In particular, he describes his album Buried Secrets & Old Lies as an "Alternative subgenre blender."
- Ambient: Some of his noise and sampling experiments double as this.
- Answer Song: "There for Me" is written as the opposite of Al Green's "Take Me to the River", which David Byrne described as not comparing love and baptism but simply combining them. "There for Me" actively compares love and religion unfavourably.
- Anti-Love Song:
Sorry love there's nothing there for me
- "There for Me", doubled with Religion Rant Song.
I don't want somebody there for me
I was the last thing to go right for you
- "Angel Lungs" dips into this when the lyrics aren't outright surreal.
- Nobody Cares... begins and ends with a sample from the "Bobsatm.com" voicemail.
- A favorite composition trick in Buried Secrets & Old Lies. The album begins and ends with Old Lies walking through the desert and dying, "Neuropia" with a blast of noise and a distorted voice, and "Principle Shit" with the same soaring Ebow guitar and chords.
- Cover Version:
- Half of BlackholeWhitespace is covers: three of songs by his dad ("Void", "Ghost Town", and "What's Going On"), one by Sparks ("Confusion"), and one by Scott Walker ("30 Century Man").
- Spider includes covers of "Requiem" by Killing Joke, "Ex Lion Tamer" by Wire, and "Blackout" by Lush.
- Quaero includes covers of "My Little Underground" by The Jesus and Mary Chain'' and "Lively Arts" by The Damned.
- Death Song: Frequently:
- "The Forgotten One" is about a person who dies in a car accident and is buried under leaves and snow never to be found.
- "What a Way to Go" and "Hang On, I Got This" are about the strange ways people kill themselves.
- "Let's Make a Martyr", a satire of martyrdom and how people and their causes become venerated after their death, so you'd "better pick up the pace".
- "Quaero" is about a man dying in the desert, only for his skeleton to rip out of his body and keep on walking. Except his flesh gets back up as well.
- "Misery Is A Riot" has the narrator and a funeral procession mourning the death of the aforementioned skeleton but happy that the person is gone too.
- Epic Rocking:
- The Right Way to do Everything: "Echo to Canal Street" is 9 minutes, and "Knock Gabriel Knock" is 7 minutes.
- Buried Secrets & Old Lies: "Misery is a Riot" is 6:41, and "Abbott is Death Process" is 8:20.
- Worldbuilder: "Tell Me About Your Planet" is 6:42, and "Northern Mantra" is 8:08.
- Everything Is an Instrument:
- The phased noise intro and outro for The Right Way to do Everything is his computer's fan.
- "The Flint Robot has a Perfect Day" uses a processed microphone thump and some Skype call static as a rhythm track.
- "Quaero" uses drum sticks hit against his desk and each other for percussive texture.
- Genre Roulette: His music is a mix of Punk Rock, Post-Punk, Alternative Rock, Noise Pop, Shoegazing, Industrial, Electronic Music, and various other influences combined or alternated. Worldbuilder went even further left-field, adding influences from Progressive Rock, Jazz Fusion, and Heavy Metal.
- Hardcore Punk:
- Most of the music for his original songs from 2011 were improvised.
- The guitar solos on "Get Out of the House" were recorded one after the other with no planning other than to make them dissonant and disorienting. They had to be re-edited to fit the song's tempo, and this is most noticeable in the outro where the solo loses the tempo.
- Loudness War: A firm aversion. All of his albums and songs have a minimum dynamic range of DR10 (though this was mainly due to his pre-2018 work not actually being mastered or significantly compressed). Though many unmastered versions of tracks from Quaero and Buried Secrets & Old Lies went as low as DR7, his mastering process actually increases the dynamic range of louder songs; most significantly, DJ Sawtooth's remix of "The Mask is the Face" was DR5 before mastering, after which Austin doubled the dynamic range to DR10.
- Lyrical Dissonance: He enjoys writing uptempo, melodic, Punk-inspired songs with lyrics like:"Let's make a martyr, you're gonna die someday
Let's make a martyr, you're gonna die anyway!"
- Medium Awareness: "Hang On, I Got This" includes the line "I hear you better when you're further away", sung by the backing vocals which are buried in reverb.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly:
- His label boss didn't know what genre to use to describe "Count All the Flies in My House", so Austin called it "Avant Dance".
- Nobody Cares Unless You're Pretty or Dying and Spider are self-categorized as "Hardcore Pop" because they mix so many random Punk and Alternative subgenres together, and as a play on "Power Pop".
- He describes the album Buried Secrets & Old Lies as a "Post-Punk/Alternative subgenre blender", combining even more disparate subgenres than Nobody Cares.
- He describes some of Worldbuilder, namely "Micronova" and "Electricity", as Dream Rock to differentiate their harder sound from their softer Shoegazing, Progressive Rock and Noise Pop influences.
- Noise Pop: "There for Me", directly inspired by The Jesus and Mary Chain, as well as his cover of JAMC's "My Little Underground".
- "There for Me" is Noise Pop directly fashioned after The Jesus and Mary Chain.
- "Let's Make a Martyr" is a Power Pop take on Andrew W.K..
- "Edged Out" is in the style of Minor Threat, and a simultaneous Take That! to Ian Mackeye's and Straight Edge's views on sex.
- "A More Traditional Love Song" is in the style of The Damned, Damned guitarist Captain Sensible's solo work, and Motörhead.
- "Tribalism" is in the style of Killing Joke and Ministry.
- "Fountain Neck" is styled after Butthole Surfers, though Austin later noted it also sounds like Nirvana's Bleach.
- "Room For One More" is primarily in the style of Fugazi.
- "Last Minute Thought of a Man on Fire" is a heavy take on Madchester/Baggy, particularly The Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets.
- Post-Punk: His music primarily falls under this umbrella, and dozens of Post-Punk artists are his core influences, even moreso than Punk Rock.
- Religion Rant Song: The second half of "There for Me":"To cheap experiences I'm not a stranger
I went to church for a number of my years
Sat in back with my eyes glazing over
You never see one like me coming to tears"
- The Saw Beat single is composed of three songs made entirely out of this.
- The extended version of "Spider" samples a California Lottery commercial.
- "Don't Hear Me" samples a Skype call with Mugiwara Yoshi as Yoshi's mom yells at him.
- The first and last songs on Nobody Cares have samples of a telemarketer advertising the now-defunct website, "Bobsatm.com".
"You gave your compliments long after I decided
- From "There for Me":
I have a face that you scrape off the road"
- He released a compilation of unavailable music from 2011 and titled the compilation ThornBrain is Really Bad at This - The Best of the Worst (2009-2011). Its free companion No One Needs Me is similarly subtitled The Rest of the Worst.
- Self-Imposed Challenge: Worldbuilder was recorded entirely in February 2019 for the RPM Challenge.
- "I Feel Fantastic".
- His cover of "Blackout".
- "Abbott is Death Process".
- "Micronova" and "Electricity" build off Shoegaze's influence to a more Rock-based sound that Austin prefers to call Dream Rock.
- "Saw Coffee (Mensforth Hill)" is "Saw Beat" reversed and further treated, a reference to "Mensforth Hill" by The Clash, which itself is a reversed and overdubbed remix of "Something About England".
- "I'm Your Victim" opens with a guitar riff lifted straight from Black Flag's "Rise Above".
- The title of "Here Comes Singularity Black" is one to "Here Comes the Singularity" by Killing Joke. Its original title was "Vantablack" after the world's blackest pigment, but Thorn wanted to avoid any potential legal trouble due to the name being copyrighted; "Singularity Black" is the name of the blackest available paint - only slightly less black than Vantablack.
- The title of "For Not 206" is one to the sometimes inexplicable Word Salad Titles of Wire.
- The title of "Northern Mantra" is one to the Cabaret Voltaire EP Three Mantras, which only contained two "mantras": "Western Mantra" and "Eastern Mantra".
- Spoken Word: "Self-Portrait with Stolen Painting" is Austin telling a story over Industrial Post-Punk music.
- Take That!:
- "Let's Make a Martyr" mocks the tendency for people who die or are killed for their cause to become symbols of said cause that others rally behind, saying that those people wouldn't have cared until that person died.
- "My Parents Died and Everyone Loves Me" is this to Mary Sues in fanfiction.
- "Edged Out" is this to the Straight Edge movement's and Ian Mackeye's views on sex, comparing it to sexual oppression in religion as a pointless rejection of a natural human instinct.
- "Principle Shit" is a vicious takedown of Baby Boomers who look down on millennials and Gen Z-ers for being unprincipled by saying their outdated principles are what lead to things like domestic abuse and school shootings.
- "As Gods As Demons" is one to people who use religion as an excuse to commit acts of evil.
- The final third of "Cancerous Winter" is one to celebrities who were revealed to have committed sexual assault. The first two thirds of the song are about celebrity deaths.
- Uncommon Time: Worldbuilder flexes its prog and jazz influences this way:
- "Competition for a Bad Life" alternates 7/4 in the verses and 3/4 in the chorus.
- "Electricity" is in 7/4.
- "Tell Me About Your Planet" has the lead-in to the "Shark (A Distraction)" piece that alternates 5/8 and 3/4. "Shark" itself starts in 5/8 before switching to 7/8, then 3/4, then 5/4, before ending in 4/4.
- Word Salad Lyrics:
- Word Salad Title:
- "An O in Hell".
- From Buried Secrets & Old Lies and Quaero: "Here Comes Singularity Black", "Face Down Walls", "Fountain Neck" and "For Not 206".