Southern Californian rock outfit Thrice have a decade long reputation for unleashing enthralling bouts of electric aggression and emotion, furiously flung from the heart without much care of consequence. The band's eighth release Major/Minor is as exciting as ever; crunchy yet melodic, with Dustin Kensrue's raspy siren overlaying an unexpected, grungy foundation. Turns out these guys are full of surprises, as we recently learned on a golden, Fall afternoon at a pristine photography studio on the west side of Manhattan. With late afternoon light painting rusty tones of orange and yellow on Dustin and guitarist Teppei Teranishi, the brothers Thrice traded electricity for more acoustic means, cutting three of Major/Minor's songs down to the mighty emotional footwork the band rely upon to truly take their music places. The result is a set that's stunning in its beauty and simplicity, yet every bit as enticing as what you have come to rely on Thrice to deliver over the years.
- I am Dustin. I sing and play guitar in Thrice. - I'm Teppei and I play guitar in Thrice. We promise pretty things And we pledge with diamond rings We profess undying love But does that word hold any weight When we reserve the right to break Any vow that draws our blood Our word is so faint and feeble Broken by the slightest breeze or breath Our hearts are so deceitful Sick and filled with lies that lead to death We are cowards and thieves But we never turn to grieve the damage done Never see Never quake with rage at what we have become The world we have become Oh, we get down on one knee And we play at chivalry But we do not count the cost We say "On me you can depend" I will be there 'til the end Though we will not bear the cross Our word is so faint and feeble Broken by the slightest breeze or breath Our hearts are so deceitful Sick and filled with lies that lead death We are cowards and thieves But we never turn to grieve the damage done Never see Never quake with rage at what we have become The world we have become Cowards and thieves Well, we never turn to grieve the damage done Never see Never quake with rage at what we have become The world we have become - It's "Promises, " the one that started, I thought it would be a good idea to have Riley just record some drum beats that he was liking and then share those with us so it would be kind of inspiration to base it off the rhythms rather than doing that afterwards and so that we were basing guitar parts on a really cool rhythm. And so that was one of the ones Teppei had that main kind of movement, but it was major. And it sounded, what did it? We were saying it sounded like... - I don't know, like happy AC/DC, or something weird like. But it was really fun and it moved really well, but we didn't know how to incorporate it and we finally darkened it up a little bit. And, yeah, it just kind of worked out there. And Ed had a part for that pre-chorus and then I just started playin' the chorus, adding on to that and it all kind of flowed together. Yeah, our new record, I think it's our eighth full length, is called Major/Minor. The title Major/Minor originally came from one of the songs on the record and was referencing something that started kinda cropping up in a bunch of the songs, the practice of putting a major chord in where normally the key would call for a minor chord. It's something a lot of the kind of grunge bands were doing in the, like, early 90s and has a particular mood and tone to it. And we hadn't really done much of it before and started just finding it happening in the new songs and then later on it took on kind of a double meaning as describing this idea of these great, joyful, awesome things going on in life right along side of these dark, and confusing, and painful things as well. So I think we had just seen a lot of that very poignantly in the last year or so, two years, and it made sense for the record. You were built for blessing But you only make them bleed But you don't care You don't care And the bruises are but shadows Of the blackness that you breed But you don't care You don't care The light that's left inside their eyes Is darkened day by day But you don't care You don't care Your presence pulls the color From the world 'til all is gray But you don't care You don't, you don't, you don't, you don't 'Cause you're less than half a man Yellow belly and crimson hands You'll one day reap your reckoning Maybe then you'll understand Your hands were made to comfort But they only conjure fear But you don't care You don't care She's in the closet praying Lord, please get me out of here But you don't care You don't, you don't, you don't, you don't 'Cause you're less than half a man Yellow belly and crimson hands You'll one day reap your reckoning Maybe then you'll understand You're less than half a man Yellow belly and crimson hands You'll one day reap your reckoning Maybe then you'll understand What mercy have they known From you From you To ask that it be shown To you To you What mercy have they known From you From you To ask that it be shown To you To you - "Yellow Belly" was a song that also came around when I was gone. Good things happen when I'm out of the picture. Or you can talk about it. think we had like three or so practices since Dustin and for some reason it ended up being really productive. And I think we ended up with about three songs that are now on on the record from those practices. And, I don't know, this, for "Yellow Belly, " it was just Riley had this drum beat that he'd just kind of come up with out of the blue and I think we were just kinda tryin' to mess with it and tryin' to write parts to it and I just started playing pretty much just out of, yeah, pretty much exactly the way it was. I started playing that opening riff and then they, Riley and Eddie, joined in and started playing and we just kinda went from there. I think we wrote the majority of it in just that one day and then it was left like fairly unchanged. we've been, I think they were written in a similar way to where they're, we really approached it in the studio, letting whatever was happening at that time really influence how the song ended up sounding. I guess having less, like, preconceived ideas of where the song was gonna go once we all got in the room together. more just kind of a natural, organic way of letting things happen. I hate that word. I don't know why I say that. Anyway, I think we did the Alchemy Index a couple records ago, which is really, I mean, it was the concept record, but because of that nature it was really, kind of, it was very calculated and very thought out. And so I think, as a reaction to that, "Beggars" was written very much in the opposite way. And so I think we just had a good time doing it that way and just kinda continued to do with Major/Minor. - Yeah, I think there was things that we really liked about it and we wanted to build on the way that the music really moved well and had a good groove and rhythm to it. And we took some of that and, I think, just pushed it harder on this record in a lot of ways. There was something exciting about getting it back down to, like, the roots of what the band was, you know, and so not adding all these parts. Like, if there's gonna be a keyboard part, Teppei's not gonna play guitar then, like, he's gonna play the keyboard part and there'll be a guitar, and bass, and drums, and yeah. So just stripping a lot of that excess away. I think, really, it made us much more attuned to the dynamics of what each song was doing. - I think at the core of it, we're a rock band, you know, and it was just, I guess, kinda getting back to our roots, in a sense. Our life's built with tin cans and string But the cornerstone laid is a wondrous and beautiful thing Firming the grounds While the north wind is taking it's toll You help me to find my way back And to anchor my soul Safe in the sound Oh, you know me Oh, and I know you And I know that We can see this through I bragged of barin' my bones Said if we heard the howling I'd run out to face it alone To meet it half way But I've still got badges to earn To keep my siftin' my soul 'Cause I think that I'm startin' to learn To love you that way Oh, you know me Oh, and I know you And I know that We can see this through And it's true that you could snap my neck But I trust you'll save my life instead 'Cause our love's a loyalty sworn If we hold to our hope Then I know we can weather this storm Whatever they say Come what may Oh, you know me Oh, and I know you And I know that We can see this through things going on with it. It started out from just a little, I recorded everything on my phone, like, just bits of ideas that pop into my head and that way I don't lose them, otherwise I'll just totally forget 'em. And so I'll go back and listen through and if it strikes me again, then I'll pursue it. So I had just like the melody and the chord progression for the verse and the chorus and I showed it to the dudes and I went out of town for a week and they practiced a couple times as a three piece and I came back to like a demo, basically, of that whole song. It was like exactly what I had heard in my head. I'm like, "That's it. There it is. " Like, that song was like done at that point. We just, I had wrote the lyrics on top of it. And the lyrics are, it's called "Anthology" because it's pulling pieces of other songs that we've done in the past and kind of working them into a storyline. I don't know why I thought of doing that. I thought it was maybe gonna be lame, and then I wasn't sure, then I was like, Okay I think it's gonna be good. And people have been really excited about it. So it's kinda, yeah, the only thing I could think of that was similar was in, was it "Glass Onion?" A Beatles song. They kinda reference some of their other works. Much more like it's obvious that they're doing it. The "Anthology" is a little more subtle. But, yeah, the, like, long time fans have been excited about it, like, picking through it and finding that stuff. - I think for me, what I'm most proud about, you know, at this point, is that we're still here. We're still here and we're still the same four guys and it's been 13 years and that's pretty crazy. I mean, when we started the band we had, honestly, had no expectations and no lofty goals and have literally been taking every single step as it comes and, you know, counting everything as a blessing. So, I mean, I still can't believe we're here. - And I think, more than that, just that we're still, I think, we would say doing our best work, like, or at least we're really excited about what's going on right now. We all love this record and yeah.
Thrice has been a staple in the alternative-modern-rock world for nearly ten years now. With no real need for introduction, Thrice is known for effortlessly and continuously releasing groundbreaking records. Their eighth album Major/Minor is no exception.
Building off the momentum of 2009's Beggars, Thrice (frontman/guitarist Dustin Kensrue, guitarist Teppei Teranishi, bassist Eddie Breckenridge and drummer Riley Breckenridge) once again found themselves getting back to basics; four guys sitting in a room jamming out, making music. " We had so much fun making Beggars and it was such a smooth process that it only made sense to keep capitalizing on the natural energy in the room when we're together," notes Riley. "We just wanted to focus on being a rock band."
The Orange County, California quartet released their first proper full-length, Identity Crisis, in 2001 and quickly stormed to the forefront of the indie music scene as listeners rejoiced and formed what can only be described as a cult following. Thrice went on to release six highly praised albums fan favorites The Illusion Of Safety (2002), The Artist In The Ambulance (2003) and Vheissu (2005), the brilliant and intricate four-piece concept album The Alchemy Index: Fire and Water (2007) and Earth and Air (2008), and the most recent band-centric masterpiece, Beggars (2009). Ample touring followed each release, and in the 13 years since their inception, the guys of Thrice have had the pleasure of sharing the road with the likes of Brand New, Rise Against, Alkaline Trio, Manchester Orchestra, Circa Survive, Say Anything, Mewithoutyou and many more. "I can't wait to get back on the road," Ed says. "Some of my best friends are the people we tour with. I'd love to meet new bands or tour with old friends on this album. Either way I'm excited."
Major/Minor was tracked and produced by long-time friend and Vheissu mixer, Dave Schiffman at Redbull Studios in Los Angeles. "It was our first time bringing in an outside producer since Vheissu," notes Teppei, "and it was really nice for me. Producing is fun, I do enjoy it, but it's definitely hard having to play two roles and being part of both sides of the process. Takes a lot out of me. This time I got to walk in without worrying about setting stuff up and could just play my guitar and have fun." Much like Beggars, Major/Minor was derived in large part by jam sessions and is quite literally the brain-child of all four band members. " The Alchemy Index was all written individually, which has its good points and bad. It's sad that it's less collective, but cool because the ideas remain more in the vein as planned," Ed comments. "We have four very different minds in our band. We all enjoy very different areas of music, and share a very similar center. The songs on Major/Minor are essentially the four of us fighting back and forth to get them to our most centered place." The resulting tracks are well worth the fight.
Major/Minor sheds light on a side of Thrice fans have yet to see. Comprised of eleven songs, the album possesses an analog warmth and organic landscape reminiscent of indie-music's predecessor; one of the biggest music trends to come from the underground in the 1990's. That's right, grunge. "When we first showed the demos to Dave, the first thing he said was 'You guys know you wrote a grunge record, right?," laughs Teppei. "It's really funny because it hadn't really occurred to us. We just wrote what came naturally."
That's not to say Major/Minor is leaps and bounds from its forerunners. Traces of Beggars, Vheissu, and every other Thrice album are seamlessly laced between guitar driven rock songs paying tribute to the bands we all knew and loved growing up. And the vocals? Well it wouldn't be a Thrice album without Dustin Kensrue's thought provoking words spread over the sonic terrain of each song.
"Major/Minor quite literally represents the extreme contrast of really great and really sad things going on simultaneously. While writing this record we experienced some tragic things in our personal lives and I think you can hear that," says Dustin. "It's got a darker, grayer feeling than a lot of our albums."
Major/Minor gets right to the point with opener 'Yellow Belly', one of the most aggressive and grave of the eleven tracks. Once quite appropriately named 'Major/Minor' (the track name changed to 'Yellow Belly' during the recording process), this opener represents the interaction between the dark and light listeners hear throughout the songs that follow. "Sometimes in life sad and happy things can exist in the same plane and be a blur. The push and pull can be a beautiful thing. This sort of yin and yang concept also rings true in music and is what you hear happening on this album," Ed comments.
The push and pull between chaotic and peaceful is evident throughout. " 'Cataracts', for example, is kind of angular, but at the same time is really 'up' and has a big lifty kind of movement to it. There's a lot going on. And that translates to what was happening at the time," says Dustin. "We managed to have some really amazing times with each other and our families despite all the craziness."
Thrice has never been bound to trends, and fans never know just what to expect from a new release. And that's half the fun.
"We're grateful that people supported us through all the years and all the experiments we've done with music and trying out new things. It's been amazing being part of something that is so fun and also has the ability to grow. I don't think many bands allow themselves to have that freedom for fear of losing fans' support. So I'm really grateful we're so fortunate," says Ed.
"Ed's and my Dad passed in the middle of recording and I can't put my finger on any particular song or moment that symbolizes the sadness we experienced," says Riley," but it was something weighing really heavy on us and influenced the song writing. I'm really surprised we made this record, but I'm so happy we did. The folks that can't be with us would be proud."