Is mindless metal being replaced by a more profound kind of moshin’ music? Geoff Rickly of the melodic hard-core band Thursday isn’t so sure.
“I thought it was just a general trend that music was getting smarter and that it seemed to be going to a more compassionate place,” reflects the singer-lyricist. “Like it wasn’t just our little movement, but rock in general. Then the new Limp Bizkit song came out, and I was like, well, maybe not.”
Whether heavy music is indeed getting headier, it definitely is enjoying a higher profile as of late, and Bizkit-style buffoonery aside, young fans who know every word to every song are connecting with bands who contemplate the world and their place in it while weaving poetic layers of imagery and emotion. You know, bands concerned with more than just breaking stuff.
New Jersey’s Thursday and California’s Thrice, two leaders of this more meaningful brand of thrash rock, which for better or worse has come to be known as “screamo,” have united for a co-headlining tour that should reveal the ever-increasing fan power behind the genre. The duel bill, which hits the Palladium on Halloween night, sold out in less than a week.
“I think the climate right now in music is definitely set up for bands like us and Thursday to reach more people,” says Thrice singer Dustin Kensrue. “But in a larger sense, we don’t know where we’re going ourselves, so we don’t try to guess where music as a whole is.... It’s exciting not knowing where you’re going, and we want it to feel open enough that when it comes time to write the next record it can be free of any kind of expectations.”
Both bands’ mostly youthful followings suggest a promising future for aggressive music with some depth, and with the kind of acclaim each has been getting, expectations are bound to happen, especially from their shared label Island Records. The company signed Thursday in March 2002 and Thrice a month later. And though the two groups are often compared to each other, their music has more in common thematically than sonically.
Both bands’ latest album titles reference literature (Thrice’s “The Artist in the Ambulance” was inspired by writer Al Burian’s underground zine Burn Collector, while Thursday’s “War All the Time” was taken from a Charles Bukowski tome that explores the line between personal and global politics). Members of both bands are in their early 20s, a time of life that’s often uncertain and challenging, and both passionately convey this perspective in their music.
Kensrue thinks the comparisons, while understandable, aren’t always accurate and have more to do with the fact that “we both have TH’s in our name.”
Maybe or maybe not. After all, one is from the West Coast and one from the East, but even within their respective hometowns, they followed a similar path of touring, indie recording and cultivating fans on a grass-roots level.
Thrice -- Kensrue, guitarist Teppei Teranishi, bassist Ed Breckenridge and drummer Riley Breckenridge -- started out blasting metal riffs in the backyards of Irvine house parties before getting its first gig at the Anaheim all-ages venue Chain Reaction at the end of ’99. The band got serious around 2001 when it signed to indie Sub City Records and released the debut “Identity Crisis,” followed by an even more socially conscious and better received sophomore release “The Illusion of Safety.” Soon it was selling out venues like the House of Blues, and a bidding war ensued, with Island the ultimate victor.
Thursday’s members were more into attending shows than playing them when they first met up in the late ‘90s New Brunswick, N.J., club scene. Eventually though, Rickly and guitarists Steve Pedulla and Tim Keely, bassist Tim Payne and drummer Tucker Rule tried their hand at making music themselves, releasing a debut, “Waiting,” on indie Eyeball Records in 1999, followed by the acclaimed “Full Collapse” through Chicago’s Victory Records in 2001. The disc and its live music video for the tune “Understanding in a Car Crash” became an MTV2 favorite, and it wasn’t long before the labels came calling. Again, Island snagged the hot property.
The Warped Tour also played a role in each’s respective careers, helping them to garner new fans, and in Thrice’s case, showing off an ability to improvise (the band whipped up some impressive, if raw, acoustic versions of their tunes on the fly when skinsman Breckenridge hurt his back during its L.A. dates this past summer). The year before, Warped served as the meeting ground for the two groups when the members got to know each other after years of being told, by friends and fans alike, that they were kindred spirits.
“We’re totally bros now,” says Rickly. “We’ve been trying to get a tour together forever, and now it’s finally happening.”
There’s no doubt that both bands are teetering on the same edge of success. And though it’s easy to assume the two bands are punked-out peas in a pod based on their backgrounds and lyrics, listening to their songs makes it clear that each has its own individual take -- Thrice more metal-flavored and Thursday more ‘80s rock- and new wave-inspired.
Still, both ponder life in a way that “the kids” (as both Kensrue and Rickly refer to their fans) obviously relate to right now. “I think we’re just trying to be honest and kind of searching, which is definitely a quality of youth,” Kensrue says. “The cool thing is that they’re interested and it’s not just another piece of ear candy, to them it’s food for thought.”
Thursday and Thrice
Where: Hollywood Palladium,
6215 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
When: Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Info: (323) 962-7600
Lina Lecaro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.