When you first listen to Thrice, your mind, body, and soul is stormed by a surge of sincerity and commanding sounds. Always different, always changing, Thrice speaks to their audience. Envision the words being scribbled onto an old notebook as the music is fused. They have created something unique and special.
Thrice took a portion of the proceeds from both of their previous albums ‘Identity Crisis’ and ‘The Illusion of Safety’ and donated them to charity. The same will be done for their major label debut. ‘The Artist in the Ambulance’ drops July 22 on Island Records. Expect the unexpected.
[with Dustin Kensrue & Riley Breckenridge]
David: What were some main reasons you guys decided to sign with Island/Def Jam Records after being on Sub City?
Riley: We were never in a situation where we felt like we HAD to sign with a major. We had another record left with Sub City. But getting the opportunity to sign with a major label, knowing that your records will be available everywhere, having the resources to make the records you want to make, and being able to concentrate on music full-time, is not a opportunity that many bands get, and if you do get it, it’s not like it’s an opportunity that’s going to keep coming back. So we decided that if we found a label that was willing to work with us on our terms, that understood what we are trying to do as band, and was willing to let us continue the charity work we’d done at Sub City, we’d sign. Island ended up being the label that we chose, because we feel like they are everything I mentioned above and more.
David: Many times though fans have a negative response to a band switching from a small label to a larger major label. What has been the response from your fans since switching over to Island/Def Jam?
Riley: There’s a little of both, although it seems like the negative people won’t shut up about it. We really appreciate the supportive people because they obviously have faith in our band, and realize that we didn’t just sign to a major label to hand away all of our creative control. We made a very educated decision when we signed with Island. We took our time, spoke to and got advice from people we trust, and made sure that we knew what we were getting into. We have the final say in every creative aspect of this band, from music, to artwork, to merchandise. It seems like the people who have negative things to say about the whole situation, have this strange preconceived notion that all major labels are evil, and that every major label/band relationship is the same. The truth is that it’s different for every band, and every label, and if someone wants the truth about a particular situation they need to go to those involved and get real answers instead of spouting mindless rhetoric. There are shady people everywhere, regardless of label size. As a band, you just have to make sure that you align yourself with people you trust.
David: Your new album, “The Artist in the Ambulance” comes out July 22nd. What can we expect to hear?
Riley: Much better production quality. We had the opportunity to work with better equipment, and take more time recording than we ever had in the past, and I think it shows. The songs are a little more refined than anything we’d done in the past, which was also a product of having more time to mess around with arrangements. We wanted to make memorable songs instead of memorable parts. The last record was pretty scatter-brained (which worked at times, but didn’t at others), and we wanted to make something a little more cohesive. We also experimented with a lot of odd-time signatures, guitar tones, and string arrangements. It’s definitely different than anything we’ve ever done.
David: “The Artist in the Ambulance” is an interesting album title. How did you guys come up with that name and is there any type of special meaning behind it?
Riley: It’s based on an excerpt from the book “Burn Collector” by Al Burian (who plays in Milemarker). It’s a story about himself (an artist) and his brother who is a paramedic, and their contributions to society. The paramedic’s impact on society is a lot more obvious than the artist’s. The basic premise deals with society’s duty to do more, and to try harder to do something meaningful, especially in the artist’s case. We’ve always tried to do a little more than just make music, by donating money to charities.
David: Your previous album “The Illusion of Safety” sold really well quickly and even made it to the Billboard”s Heat Seekers Chart. How did you guys respond to that?
Riley: It was definitely an honor, but it wasn’t anything we really thought about all that much. We aren’t really that concerned with record sales or Billboard charts.
David: I look at many of the song titles from “The Illusion of Safety” album and I see they deal with the theme of death such as, “Kill Me Quickly”, “The Red Death”, “To Awake and Avenge the Dead”. Why the references to death in your song titles and lyrics and where do you draw the inspiration for writing very strong, powerful, deep, and dark lyrics?
Dustin: I’m not too sure. I think that if you read a lot, subconsciously I think it will affect how you learn to express yourself through words, and will improve your use of vocabulary. Inspiration though can come from anywhere, and usually does. I will start thinking of a line or concept and write it down, and then usually come back and build on it later. The dark themes are used because you can sometimes convey something to someone’s heart when you might not be able to convey it to their brain.
David: Many times your songs seem to have no set structure and each part of the song sounds new. You don’t find that typical verse and chorus set up to your songs. Do you guys make a conscience effort of writing songs in that matter?
Dustin: We did. We don’t anymore. We were basically in this weird rebellion from normal song structures. The effect was that it produced an interesting record that was a snapshot of our band at the time, but we realized that we should focus on making a good song, instead of achieving an agenda. Basically, at this point we’re repeating parts that would happened just once on “Illusion”, and we are varying those parts to keep it fresh. I think people are scared that the new record is going to be boring because we keep talking about how the structures are not as weird, but I think they will be surprised at what is actually there.
David: When spending a lot of time on the road touring, what are some things you guys like to do to pass time or relax?
Riley: I watch DVD’s, read, play guitar, or listen to music.
Dustin: I’d have to say ditto. Damn Riley, stealing my hobbies.
David: What do you guys have spinning in your own CD players now?
Riley: I have been listening to Radiohead – ‘Hail to the Thief’, Poison the Well – ‘You Come Before You’, and Prefuse 73 – ‘One Word Extinguisher’.
Dustin: Damien Rice, The Postal Service, Tom Waits, Strike Anywhere.
David: After the new album is released, what’s next for you guys?
Riley: It comes out towards the end of the Warped Tour, so we’ll finish that up, head out to Europe for some festival shows and a few club dates in the UK, and then were planning on doing a U.S. tour in the fall with Thursday.
David: You guys have recorded three albums now. What have you learned from being involved in the whole making a record process a few times now?
Riley: You learn the strengths and weaknesses of your band, and try to make the best of them. I think each time you record, you get a little better prepared for your studio time, although you can never be fully prepared. You learn a little bit of tech geek stuff along the way too.
David: Any real big negatives out there that you guys have experienced being in the music business?
Riley: The only negative I’ve seen is when people don’t know how to separate personal issues and business issues.
David: How would you guys like to see the band in years to follow?
Riley: We take things one day at a time. I know we’d love to continue writing, playing, and touring, but I am more concerned about playing a good show today than I am about where we’ll be in the next few years.