Have a look at Thrice's glossy new visuals for "Promises". The song's crunch and ringing, percussive attack reminisce of some of those Seattle bands from way back when...yeah, grunge. But it's no dirty word here. Topped off with singer Dustin Kensrue's raspy siren, "Promises" (from the band's most recent album Major/Minor), is a stratospheric shot of adrenalin.
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."