A Hiatus Reaped Dividends for the Post-Hardcore Act Thrice


  • Dan Monick
Shortly after forming in Southern California in 1998, Thrice began sending demos to record labels with the hopes of getting a record deal. The response wasn’t particularly positive.

“Labels told us to figure out if we were going to sing or scream or be a hardcore band or a punk band,” says drummer Riley Breckenridge via phone from a Fort Lauderdale tour stop. The band performs with the Bronx and Teenage Wrist at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at House of Blues. “We never really figured that out, but we do what we want to do and have freedom by not being put in a box.”

The band’s latest album, Palms, is certainly a testimony to its open-minded perspective when it comes to music. The album includes everything from the U2-like opening tune “Only Us” to the soulful ballad “Everything Belongs.” The band throws a little hardcore in the mix too with “A Branch in the River,” which features parched vocals and a beefy guitar riff.

“When I was young, I listened to a lot of hip-hop and R&B,” says Breckenridge. “My parents always had albums by the Beatles and Zeppelin and Paul Simon and stuff like that, but I gravitated to hip-hop and R&B. In high school, I started getting into metal and punk rock. I was stuck in that mindset for a number of years, especially when the band started out. As I’ve gotten older and felt like the music I listen to doesn’t define me as a person, I got interested in exploring different genres. Now, I’m open to just about anything. When you’re in high school and trying to figure out who you are, you decide you’re a punk, for example. People tell you to check out this indie rock record, but you can’t listen to that because it will ruin your credibility as a punk. [Getting over that] is just part of growing up.”

Despite not adhering to any real musical genres, the band had a good run until it disbanded in 2012. At the time, it relentlessly toured in support of whatever album it had just released. That took a toll.

“I wasn’t burned out, and I don’t think my brother was but for [singer] Dustin [Kensrue] and [guitarist] Teppei [Teranishi], it was different because they have kids,” says Breckenridge. “Now, I can see it. Have two kids now. At the time, I didn’t have any kids. I was like, ‘Let’s keep touring. This is fun. Why say no to anything? Let’s be on the road forever.’ Now, I have a 3-year-old son and 1-and-a-half year-old daughter, and we’re out here touring, and I get it. It sucks to be away from your kids. You might be gone for a month but so much happens when they’re that age. Being away from it is super difficult.”

Three years ago, the band reformed to play festivals. At that time, discussions about writing songs for a new album commenced.

“It was great to be back,” says Breckenridge. “First, it was cool because three years isn’t that long when you’ve been a band for 20 years, but you don’t know. I was worried that the vibe would be right and that it wouldn’t magically gel the way it did back in 1998 when we started playing together. I was also worried with how short people’s attention spans are now. People get bored with stuff in a matter of months. Thankfully, people were stoked. The response to the new record has been great. The response to the last record, To Be Everywhere is Nowhere, was awesome too. The shows have been great, and it’s rad to be on the road and run into people who have been with us for almost 20 years.”

With Palms, the band didn’t intend to explore a range of instrumentation. The songs just went in that direction.

“It’s not like a super conscious thing that [Palms] had to be a knee jerk reaction to the last record, which is what we’ve done in the past,” says Breckenridge. “We just wanted to write whatever came out and if it’s left of center, we wanted to let it be what it wants to be. That’s how you end up getting songs like ‘Only Us’ or ‘My Soul,’ which is super mellow. The record is all over the place, but I feel like that’s what we do. I think a lot of the lyrics are inspired by politics but painting with a broader brush stroke.”

For the live show, the band polled fans to see what they wanted to hear. Some of the most popular tunes will make it into the set.

“It’s so hard to make a set list, not only because we have something like 130 songs, but also because we have a ton of different tunings,” says Breckenridge. “Some stuff is in E-standard, and some stuff is on baritone. When you put a set together, you don’t want to have to change guitars between each song because it ruins the flow. Our songs are a little scatter-brained style-wise. You don’t want a section to be too mellow or have a metal-inspired song next to a ballad. We had people vote on the songs they wanted to hear. The set list is the results of that polling mixed with a decent showcase of the new album. It's worked out really well so far.”

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