Interview: Two Decades of Thrice
Their ninth album "To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere" brings the band back on the road for the first time in four years
California post-hardcore veterans Thrice stopped in Columbus this past week to promote their ninth album, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere. Their show at Newport Music Hall on Wednesday night was a midpoint of the second leg of their fall US tour, which will wrap on October 9th in Santa Ana.
To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere marks Thrice’s return from a self-imposed hiatus after the release of 2011’s Major/Minor. Its strength and balance as a record has been well received by their audience, achieving the highest debut of the band’s 18-year career when it landed at the number 8 spot on the US Soundscan Top Current Albums Chart, and sold nearly 22,000 copies in its first week when it was released on May 27. It also peaked at number 15 on Billboard’s Top 200 for the week. The album has also performed well in the UK and Germany.
Thrice members Dustin Kensrue (lead vocals and guitar), Teppei Teranishi (lead guitar and keyboards), Eddie Breckenridge (bass), and Riley Breckenridge (drums), are back on the road with renewed energy and purpose. According to Teranishi, the band’s two-year break before they regrouped to record the new album was important to their growth and point-of-view on this latest venture. leaves a bit more room for sonic exploration. That’s where we kind of explored more on this record. “…I think it definitely was super helpful. I mean, we took the break just because we had families who were growing – I myself have three kids. It’s just really tough having that kind of young family – younger kids – and you’re just gone all the time. At that point, it just kind of felt like it was time. We were a band for, I think, about fifteen years at that point. So it just sort of felt like time for us to be, like, ‘alright, let’s take a step back and see what happens for a little bit.’
For me, I was really excited personally to be able to explore some stuff outside of music. Music has been something I’ve done my entire adult life and – that’s not a complaint at all – but, yeah, there are other things I’ve always wanted to pursue. And I think that was the time to (do that). Coming back to it now, it’s been awesome just because coming back gives you space to look at things a little differently. With tours now, we’re breaking everything up – we made a pact that nothing more than three weeks (at a time)…this tour we’re about to do would have been a normal six-to-eight-week US full tour, and now it’s broken up into two three-week legs. For us, that’s just a lot more sustainable and it allows us to be able to do it, you know? It’s just kind of small changes like that – giving us new and fresh perspective. And also having space away from playing with the band just makes you appreciate what it was, so everybody came back really excited.”
The title of the new album has some philosophic roots. What is its meaning?
“Well it stems from a quote that Dustin read from Seneca the Younger, who I believe is a (Roman) philosopher. I think at the time, he was talking to his…I don’t know the story very well, but I believe it was his apprentice or understudy or something like that. He was talking to him about book choices – you can’t really…you have to choose wisely. You don’t have all the time in the world, and you can’t read all the books in the world – so you’ve got to basically pick and choose. That was the context and we thought it was pretty interesting how it carries over into today’s world pretty relevantly. Especially with things like the internet and social media – everybody kind of staring at their phones and not being present…at all. So that was kind of the idea that resonated with us – you think about being on Twitter and constantly on your phone…you’re everywhere, but you’re kind of nowhere, you know what I mean?”
I was listening to one of the album’s singles, “Blood on the Sand”, and reading some commentary by your fans who interpreted it to be an unintentional tribute to the recent shooting tragedy in Orlando. Obviously, the song’s composition preceded that event – but was it written with other acts of violence that have occurred in our country in mind?
“As far as the music itself goes, not really. The way we normally write is that we’ll all kind of write the music together, and then Dustin, our lead singer, develops and writes the lyrics…and we’ll come back and go over everything. The vocals and the lyrics are sort of the last piece of the puzzle that we work on. When we were writing the music, we didn’t know what the content was going to be at that point. But, I think the inspiration behind the lyrical aspect of the song – definitely.”
I also know the group has done some of its work remotely at points, and parts of this album were composed by sharing bits and pieces digitally across the miles. Was that process productive, or did it present some challenges?
“I just moved back down from Washington – but at the time we recorded the album I was living (there). But, yeah it kind of presents its own challenges – but also at the same time I think it also has its advantages as well. I don’t know that one way is better than the other – just different and interesting in a way. It’s just like anything else – you might try something one way and get a different result. I thought it was an interesting and exciting thing to do – to change it up and see what came out of it. It was challenging but not much more so than normal.”
You’re an avid Beatles fan. I’m curious how their influence has figured into your music.
“I think in general with the Beatles, they’re a really great example…especially in the later years…of a band that just did what they wanted to do. I don’t think they were ever tied down to being one certain thing. I really appreciate their diversity as a band, and their songwriting…I mean, they were the arguably the best songwriting team ever, you know? Yeah, I think that’s mainly where we’d pull inspiration from them. But yeah, I grew up listening to them – Dustin did as well – and it’s a huge influence on us. Anything you listen to and that you enjoy has some sort of effect on you whether it’s conscious or not.”
Your music has been called experimental. How much of the new album fits into that label?
“Honestly for the most part, we kind of just get together and whatever comes from us, we just let it happen. Just as fans of music ourselves, each one of us…we listen to such…a pretty diverse array of music. I mean, it really does run the entire gamut. It’s just easy for us to write with diversity, I guess. As far as experimenting, to be honest I felt that this last record was maybe the least experimental of the stuff we’ve done in the past – at least in awhile. I think the focus this time was just on writing a really solid record and I think we focused on more or less the songwriting aspect of it. I think for the last couple of records up through Major/Minor, we came to the studio super rehearsed and we knew exactly what we were going to record – and we went into the studio and kind of spanned it out. Whereas this time, we into the studio with the songs more or less ready, but the final stages were still sort of being realized in the studio. That’s always kind of a fun thing to do because you can go into the studio and not always know what the songs are going to turn out like.”
You’re now looking back on almost two decades of work together as a band. What are the next milestones or accomplishments you’re all hoping to reach?
“Hmm…I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it too much, to be honest.”
I guess that’s a good thing if your career has been so satisfying that you can’t immediately think of what you haven’t yet achieved.
“Well, that’s just it. I’m just so humble and grateful to be where we are. Every little…small victory, I guess, has been unexpected and just awesome, and we’re all super thankful for them.”
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