Denver — Thrice has a career almost two decades long. Punk rock music has a long history that grows and changes with each band that forms. Musicians come from garages, basements and practice spaces around the world. Subgenres of punk are constantly being added and there’s evolution in the music scene. Thrice through the decades continues to evolve.
On a timeline since the 1970s, punk rock added the subgenre “hardcore” punk rock in the 1980s and then “post hardcore” in the 1990s.
Boiling down to an arguable framework, what is “post hardcore?” It’s addition of new thought in lyrics, new technology for creating sound and people who play with new style. It began to take shape around the turn of the century and into the 2000s.
I sat down to talk about the present of music making with Dustin Kensrue and Ed Breckenridge. We also discussed the past and future of Thrice. Dustin says, “we’re taking things we like and trying to do something different with it. I think for us it’s always just been about doing what felt good to us at the time. What felt good in 1998 is very different than what feels good now. It’s not to disregard the past, but I think trying to be super present to what’s exciting to you now.”
Often Thrice is labeled a “post hardcore” band. They’re seminal because they create new things within the genre with every record they release. They promote growth in musical and social ways from the lyrics on all their albums, to use of digital electronics on the album Vheissu in 2005, back to the time signatures on The Artist in the Ambulance in 2003.
According to Dustin, they play “heavy music.” Each recording breaks the mold, they reinvent what the punk genre means time and time again. Their attention to songwriting in many ways is past the definitions of “post hardcore.”
Almost twenty years of music from Thrice To Be Everywhere is to Be Nowhere brings their sound current, again. They press punk music down the road and beyond the horizon. Dustin says his approach to making music that feels evolutionary is this, “you’re constantly in a state of finding new music, enjoying music that inspires you and then you create things out of that. I think what we also do is, we like so many different kinds of music. Whether it’s a conscience effort, I want to make something heavy, I want to make something really pretty, or what naturally comes out of you when you pick up a guitar.” He also says, “it’s in the DNA of our band that it’s going to be like that… we thrive on challenging ourselves and each other.” This album is a great growth and a beautiful listen.
After multiple years on hiatus one could say the band’s latest album came out of nowhere. Dustin says, “I think we all really missed making music with each other. There’s a bond that was built both musically and personally. That can’t be replaced. Especially coming out of actually taking a break. It was just super energizing. It felt fresh and fun and free. It had lost the entanglements of how long we had been doing it before.”
For fans just finding their music, Dustin says, “I think they’re going to find the same thing that people have always found in our band. Which is just four guys making music and trying to do the best music they can.” Their latest record exemplifies that, their live set is a great representation of the all years of hard work.
They’re working hard now, touring, preparing and writing new music. Dustin says, “we’re in the middle of really digging in to writing the next record. Having deep discussions about what that’s gonna be, the nature of music. It’s crazy because you have a huge vast amount of possibilities and you’re trying to figure out like what you actually want to pursuit in all of that.” Ed added, “we’re flooded with ideas and there’s no way we’ll ever get to them all.”
Playing eight songs live, they make the most of the time. Their performance at Pepsi Center, with Rise Against, Deftones and Frank Iero and the Patience, the set featured four new songs from To Be Everywhere is to Be Nowhere. Dustin says his favorite song to play right now is “The Window,” he says, “good energy, it’s got a couple different kind of grooves to it.”
“The Window,” among others like “Hurricane,” “Black Honey,” and “The Long Defeat” from their latest album layer new complexities on their music and career. A career with albums like the Artist in the Ambulance, the album that gave us “Silhouette.” They played it second on stage and it was heavy. Vheissu’s progression is a trademark of their record making. They played two from it, “Of Dust and Nations” and “The Earth Will Shake.” They also played track one from Major / Minor, “Yellow Belly.” Dustin says about developing their set, “we have so many songs now, even on a full length set you’re barely scratching the surface.”
There’s growth in their sound on every album they’ve made and there’s growth in the way they play songs that are over a decade old. Dustin says, “some of the songs just sound heavier just because we’re able to stretch the dynamics in ways that maybe we didn’t think about when we were first writing songs.” Ed adds, “I feel like this set is pretty stacked with ones that are fun to play.” They played a very honest set, true to their sound, very well performed.
In 2017 Thrice is recharged, full of ideas, updating the ways they make music and always changing the style. I asked Dustin about the label “post hardcore.” He says, “we’re trying to do something that we’re creating on our own and just finding our own way.” They’re in the present, making music that matters. My takeaway from our conversation and their catalogue of work is that they are still growing and changing music beyond a label or a genre. What’s next will just be a great record, “heavy music” both in words and chords.