Alter The Press!


Interview: Thrice

Prior to their support slot with Brand New at London's Wembley Arena, Alter The Press! managed to sit down with Riley Breckenridge of Thrice.

Riley spoke to ATP about their recent UK tour, supporting Brand New on their US tour last year, their latest album 'Beggars' and more.

Alter The Press: How does it feel to be back in the UK?
Riley Breckenridge (drums): Great to be back. It's been a long time. Dustin (Kensrue - guitarist/vocalist) has had a child, and is expecting another one in a couple of weeks; Teppei (Teranishi - guitarist) has had a couple of kids, which has made it harder for us to come over here. That, combined with the increasing cost to get over here, for us to fly our crew out, rent gear, and with the amount of stuff we've been trying to do musically, coming over here has been more then just bringing guitar, bass and drums. We've got keys, samplers and other kinds of stuff. It all adds up, which makes it expensive to come over here. We are trying to find cheaper ways to do it, but we are just happy to be back.

ATP: You've just wrapped up your headline run of UK dates. How was it?
Riley: It was great; the crowds were really supportive. Some of the rooms we played were smaller than the last time we came over but it's probably been four years since we did a proper UK tour. The crowds have been super supportive and we’re getting to talk to people before and after the shows, seeing how grateful they are, that we are over here, is really humbling and making it very apparent they we need to be over here more often. We are going to make a conscience effort to do that.

ATP: Would you say the UK fans have been responding well to the new album, 'Beggars,' in a live environment?
Riley: I think so. It's hard to tell, but the enthusiasm has been higher then I expected to be but I imagine part of that is because it's been so long since we've been over in a headlining set. I think we are playing 5-6 songs from 'Beggars.' They’ve been going over really well, which is cool to see.

ATP: Well tonight, you are set to support Brand New at Wembley Arena. How was the recent US run with them?
Riley: Amazing. We actually did a full US headline tour with them and mewithoutYou in 2007. There was something about that tour, with the friendships we formed, with the like-mindedness of all the musicians that are willing to take chances and do what they wanted to do. We meshed really well with them and I think mewithoutYou were the band that bridged the gap between us and Brand New. We've known Brand New for years, since touring with them in 2001, and kept in touch, seeing them at shows here and there. Being on the road with really good friends, and bands that you admire and respect, make it more fun than a regular tour. We hope to do that again. Just to be out here with them is so cool. It's like bringing a piece of home with us over here and makes it less uncomfortable.

ATP: 'Beggars' definitely sees you going back to your roots. How was the writing process different from 'The Alchemy Index'?
Riley: 'The Alchemy Index' was fragmented and structured by choice, we wanted to make four different sounding EPs, with each one having a different sounding theme. When it came time to make 'Beggars', we wanted to bring it back to a very band centric record and focus on guitars, bass and maybe a little bit of keys. There was no programming, like electronic stuff, very little acoustic stuff, if any, and it was very exciting to get back into the studio and start jamming on ideas, like being a rock band again. I think part of that enthusiasm leaked into part of the writing process; ideas started to come together quickly, songs came together quickly and there was enthusiasm and energy that just wasn't there on 'The Alchemy Index', so it was really cool to do that.

ATP: The album was recorded in, guitarist, Teppei's garage. How was this compared to a professional studio?
Riley: It definitely has its drawbacks. It's tiny, literally just a one car garage; so, for getting room sounds for drums, which you would usually record in a big airy studio, to get a lot of ambience, you don't really have that. We had talked about wanting to record the record with all of us playing in the same room at the same time but because of the size of the room, we couldn't do that because everyone’s instruments were bleeding into each other, due to the size of the room. It's tough to make things work, but Teppei does an amazing job of making things sound the way he wants to, given the limited acoustics. The cool thing about it is, that it's really cost effective, we are not at some fancy studio paying an arm and a leg to record there, we are not paying a producer a ton of money to help us out, and we are close to home so we can go into the studio and work a 9-5 day then go home, decompress, be with friends, family, wives, girlfriends where as, in the past, where we've recorded on the East Coast, we get on a plane and spend two months on the opposite coast, away from all the comforts of home; just immersed in making a record for two months. As cool as that is, it can also drive you crazy and give you cabin fever because you are so emerged in this thing; if you do need an escape, just to get your head right, you can't do that. To have the comforts of home this time, was really nice and from a financial standpoint, it allows us to keep making records.

ATP: You self-produced the album. Can you see yourselves doing this with future releases?
Riley: I think we kind of have to at this point. It's the only way we can afford to take the time we want to make the records we want to make. We couldn't afford to pay to go to Bearsville (recording studios) like we had in the past, and go to New York for two months. It wouldn't work financially. I miss the experience of being in fancy studio like Bearsville, with the history of Bob Dylan, Jeff Buckley and so many bands going through there; and I definitely miss, at times, having an extra set of ears, because the writing process sees all of us having equal say but, with having four members in the band, if you’re split 50/50, whether a part works, a song should be on the record, whether a melody is working or a drum idea is working, you don't have the producer in there to settle that argument. But, it's prodded us to communicate better, be open to other people's ideas better, but at times, it would be good for someone to be in there and say, 'Hey! This is not working.'

ATP: What are your favorite tracks from 'Beggars'?
Riley: I really like 'All The World Is Mad', 'The Weight', 'Circles' and I really like 'Beggars'. Those are the four that stick out the most to me.

ATP: Unfortunately, the album leaked early. What was the band's response when hearing about this?
Riley: Disbelief at first, but it's inevitable your record is going to leak nowadays. With prior records, I think they would leak 2-3 weeks in advance. This time around, we didn't even have a mastered copy of the record yet, the artwork was pending, we were still working on copyright stuff for the image, I don't know if you remember, it was a lady seated at a dining room and was a cool image. We didn't have clearance for it yet, and we working on that, and then someone hacked into to Vagrant's back-end, which was a password protected stream, found a way to get in, and decided it was a good idea to spread a password protected copy of the record with voiceovers on it; we were bummed. Part of the reason that there is such a long time turning the masters in, and having the record come out on a certain date, is so you can set up pre-release press, promo materials etc. We had shot a bunch of in-studio videos, that would lead up to us explaining about the recording process when making the record, when a record leaks three months early, it ruins that whole plan. We had to scrap everything and re-address how we were going to do everything. All things considered, I think we did alright.

ATP: You've said on the band's Twitter account that you're planning to come back to the UK this summer. Has anything been spoken about yet?
Riley: Our booking agent at the Glasgow show was talking about how he wants us to come back out here, trying to get us on some festivals in the summer, you can probably assume which ones we are talking about. We want to come over for a number of festivals, do some club shows around that, some European club shows as well, as we didn't manage to do that on this run. As a band, we are trying to make an effort to come back as much as we can because we felt like we've neglected the UK. It's not really by choice, it's circumstances, whether it's the financial side, making things work, like putting on the level of show that we want over here, or scheduling conflicts, like three years ago we had an offer to play Reading and Leeds and Teppei had a child so we had to pass on it. It's part of having a life outside of the band, like taking care of your family; it's something we had to do at that time. Dustin is having another child in two weeks and at that point, we are done procreating for a while and are going to focus on touring, and part of that is coming back to the UK.

ATP: What's planned after this UK jaunt?
Riley: Lay low for a little bit, then a US tour with a very good band, who I can't speak about yet, the balls in their court. It's a co-headliner that'll be for a month; we are setting up a US headliner in July and then August/September back over here.

'Beggars' is out now on Vagrant Records.

- Jon Ableson

Alter The Press!