Thatcher is, from left, brothers Daniel and Caleb Nelson, Grayson Grimes and Alan Terry.

Thatcher online thatcher

› YouTube search: “Thatcher Illuminated” and “Thatcher Heroin”

Sometimes, two people just know right away when things are clicking and they were meant to be friends and work together.

That's how it was when Grayson Grimes and Daniel Nelson first met as music students at Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia.

Still, the hug at the end of the initial two-hour meeting was a little off-putting for Grimes.

"I don't do that," he says with a laugh in describing his reaction after Nelson suggested they hug it out.

"I'm a hugger," Nelson says.

The 2015 hug was the beginning of not only a fast friendship but a band called Thatcher now living in Chattanooga with two new members replacing the original ones who stayed behind in Australia. Things happened fairly quickly for Thatcher while in Australia and in a relatively big way. They hope to continue on that path here with the new version.

Grimes says he suggested the band's name after his English camp counselor years ago tried to rally his charges with "Win it for Margaret Thatcher" as a joke and "I continued saying it as a joke for many years."

Grimes, 24, says he was a shy young man sitting by himself in a Hillsong class back in 2015 when Nelson, 25 and not shy, approached him.

"He was older, like me, and alone, so I went up to him," Nelson says. "We were kind of the misfits in school."

Both had heard of Hillsong's music program from acquaintances and had enrolled to study music. Grimes was taking songwriting classes while Nelson was majoring in voice at what is essentially a trade school for aspiring musicians.

Originally from Los Angeles, Grimes had briefly attended Hillsong in 2010. Young and not quite as focused as he would be later, he moved back to California but was determined to get back to Hillsong. He returned in 2015 and had been there for a semester when Nelson enrolled.

Unlike Grimes, Nelson was married and a new father who'd convinced his wife, Laney, to sell everything in Chattanooga and move with him to Sydney. At the time, he was working at Brash Coffee in Warehouse Row.

Within a few days of meeting, Grimes and Nelson, who both sing and play guitar, were jamming and writing together; soon after they asked John Cornella and Gerald Torrez to join them on drums and bass. Thatcher was born.

Within a few weeks, they'd written enough songs to record a five-track EP called "Dark Days." They also decided to pay for a professional video taken at a live performance when they played their song "Illuminated." Grimes says he was particularly gratified that a good number of fans in the audience were fellow Hillsong classmates.

The video was posted on Noisetrade, a Nashville-based website that offers free — and legal — downloads from artists. The band chose the website in part because fans can leave financial tips, so it can generate some funding for a band. Thatcher's video garnered 24,000 views.

"To put that in some kind of perspective," Nelson says, "Gang of Youths is really big in Australia, and they get 30,000 hits."

Thatcher also started getting airplay in London on some radio stations and podcasts, but the big moment, at least for Grimes, was getting a note from Daniel P. Carter, bass player for thrash rockers Anthrax and host of "Rock Show" on BBC1; Carter said he liked their music.

"On the day David Bowie died, he [Carter] played our song right after he played Bowie. I'm a huge Bowie fan, so that was great," Grimes says.

The staff at Noisetrade put Thatcher on their list of Top 5 acts in 2016, and fans on the music-listening site made them a Top 10 download act there as well.

Everything was moving fast and a showcase performance was arranged in Australia in front of some record label people. But things were not going quite as well for Nelson and his small family. In addition to going to school, working fulltime and raising a son, he also had to fit in band practice. Eventually he had to tell the band he was moving back to Tennessee to be near his wife's family.

All the while, he'd been telling the guys how great Tennessee and Chattanooga were, trying to convince them to move. He came home at the end of 2015, and Grimes returned home to Orange County in January 2016. But Grimes missed his songwriting partner and friend, and he missed the discipline and stability that being in the band gave him.

Grimes says he struggles with some addiction issues and playing in the band and writing music provided him an outlet and a focus, so he moved here in October.

"I kept thinking about the band and all of these new songs I'd written," he says. "They're not finished until Daniel gets ahold of them and makes them better."

Nelson had already been thinking of replacements for Cornella and Torrez, and he didn't have to go far to find a bass player. He enlisted the help of his brother Caleb, although the younger Nelson had to learn to play the instrument.

Caleb was attending Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville and had to drive here to practice with his brother's other band, Focus Fox. Once he joined the Thatcher, though, he moved here permanently.

"Driving here twice a week was tough," Caleb says.

Alan Terry, a Nashville resident attending Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn., is the new drummer.

The band is currently working on an EP of new material and Nelson and Grimes say they want to be a part of the Chattanooga music community in any way they can.

"We like to bring our PA and let anyone use it and help set up and mix the sound or whatever is needed," Nelson says. "We feel like everybody wins if someone does well."

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.