In an age where the music industry is forever evolving, a band returning after a four-year hiatus can be a difficult proposition. It’s a task Thrice drummer Riley Breckenridge agrees with as we sit down with him and brother bassist Eddie at Leeds Festival.
“It is a long time, especially now how quick things move and how quickly people jump from thing to the next. I was a little worried people would have moved on or had forgotten about us. There’s always that fear at the back of your mind like “what if this doesn’t reach the people we want it to” or “what if it does and it suck”.” with Eddie adding “you’re natural inclination is “oh we had our time” but it’s been great.”
“It just feels like a fresh start with a good amount of history in the past to inspire us and to keep pushing forward.”
Despite their apprehension, Thrice’s “comeback” record, ‘To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere’, plays off the band’s strengths; stirring, articulate alt-rock that continues the band’s evolving sonic depth. In addition, it sees a band refreshed and with a new found gratitude to be playing music together again.
“There’s that old saying “you don’t realise how much you love something until it’s gone."” says Riley, “we all knew we loved making music together and loved touring, but I think there is a level of appreciation now that we’ve been away from it for four years that is even higher. It just feels like a fresh start with a good amount of history in the past to inspire us and to keep pushing forward. It’s about as good as it has ever been.”
The seeds for Thrice’s return lie in late 2014. After coming together for the holidays, the Breckenridge brothers along with vocalist and guitarist Dustin Kensrue and lead guitarist Teppei Teranishi decided to spend the majority 2015 playing shows before writing a new record. Riley explains:
“The ball was set in motion at that point, but we were focused on playing the shows we played last year, and then mixing in a bit of writing in between that, and when we finished up the shows, we decided to bear down spend four months or whatever on really focussing on writing and not playing live.”
Nevertheless, with other responsibilities at hand and Teranishi living in Washington, the California-based group faced the difficult task of writing apart from each other, yet they made good use of digital services such as Dropbox to collaborate.
“It was easier for some of us than others. I had a rough time with it personally, but it was the way we had to do things” says Eddie with Riley expanding with “in the past we were so used to just jamming ideas out over and over, and putting in really long days in our practise space. Being in the same room together, jamming stuff out then this kind of put a little more responsibility on each member to kind of do your homework at home. I think it was different, not necessary in a bad way, but it was a little less comfortable because it was different.”
Despite the difficulty of not collaborating together in one room, the digital collection of ideas allowed the band to revisit forgotten ideas. “It was cool because it enabled us to build out some really solid demos, virtually, and we had a history of demos. Each version of the song would be saved as a file, so we could go back to an idea that maybe was in the very first demo that we may have forgotten about if we were just jamming on something in a room together. So having that catalogue of ideas as they evolved was really cool,” says Riley.
Once they had demoed the album, the band joined up with producer Eric Palmquist, who pushed the band forward. “It was the first time we had worked with him. Early on in the writing process he was like "I want you guys to continue to push yourselves forward but also realise there are some things you do really well and don’t forget about those things, don’t neglect them in the writing process."” Riley tells us, “I think there is a pretty good blend of us trying to push things forward and evolve but also capitalising on our strong suits.”
With a strong reaction to ‘To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere’, Thrice’s return to Leeds Festival after six years saw them sub-headlining The Pit tent. On their return to the festival, Riley humbly says “it’s always an honour to play here. The crowds are great. It’s like any festival, it’s a cool opportunity to potential win over some new people, and also to entertain people that have been following us for awhile. It’s really flattering and awesome,” with Eddie stating “It’s just amazing playing these festivals. I feel like it is a classic example of a real music festival.”
Their brief visit to the UK looks like it could be a rare one. Their time away along with family life has allowed Thrice to be more considerate of how much and often they tour. “We made an agreement when we got back together that we weren’t going to tour for longer than 3 or maybe 4 weeks. It depends on circumstance. It’s to keep everybody’s spirits high.” closes Riley.
After nearly 20 years together, Thrice are now in a position of complete self-control, both as a band and creatively. ‘To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere’ is a stunning achievement that marks a significant new chapter for the constantly influential band.
‘To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere’ by Thrice is out now on Vagrant Records.
View more of Already Heard’s coverage from Leeds Festival 2016 here.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)