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By Nate Jackson
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Irvine’s Thrice make the best of online thievery with their latest record
Thrice are known for changing it up with each album, but this time, they had to do something really different. It’s now pretty much expected for albums to be leaked online days or weeks before the release date; for the Irvine-based four-piece, it was more like three months.
“We were more disappointed someone took the time to steal it rather than someone getting a copy and putting it on the Internet,” says Dustin Kensrue, Thrice’s lead singer and guitarist. “It’s a different scenario.”
Those three months were crucial for the album-release process—the artwork wasn’t finalized, the marketing plan hadn’t been executed, and the band didn’t even have a master copy of the record. “We weren’t ready for it,” says drummer Riley Breckenridge.
Instead of hunting down the hacker who stole the album from the Vagrant Records FTP site, the band took it as a positive. Beggars, their self-produced sixth album, recorded at guitarist Teppei Teranishi’s in-home studio, was supposed to come out in October. Because of the leak, the band released it digitally on Aug. 11 and added five bonus tracks to the physical copy, which hit stores this week.
Since the band formed in 1998, Thrice have shifted their overall sound: They haven’t abandoned post-hardcore and punk, but they’ve evolved. Beggars plays like a combination of their four-EP concept album’s two halves: 2007’s louder The Alchemy Index, Vols. 1 & 2: Fire and Water and 2008’s The Alchemy Index, Vols. 3 & 4: Air and Earth. The end result shares traits with 2005 album Vheissu, but remains its own unique entity.
“We’ve definitely matured a lot. I think the styles of music that are influencing us and influencing our writing are a lot more varied than they were [in 1998],” Breckenridge says. “It is pretty apparent that our roots are in punk, metal and hardcore. Over the years, we have grown as musicians and grown as people.”
Beggars is an accumulation of the past 11 years. The record shows how they can add new elements while still pleasing people who’ve been loyal fans since ‘98. “You’re a different band every day. I’m not the same person from a week ago,” Kensrue says. “In any kind of art, you have to find new ways of expressing things.”
Thrice prove this with mellower songs “The Great Exchange” and “Circles” and messing around with a mandolin at one point on the title track. They cite Radiohead as one of their biggest influences, yet their aggressive punk undertones and Kensrue’s raw vocals keep clawing to the surface in tracks such as “All the World Is Mad,” “The Weight,” “Doublespeak” and “Talking Through Glass.” In addition to the proper album’s 10 songs, the physical copy’s bonus tracks include B-sides “Answered” and “Red Telephone,” a cover of “Helter Skelter” by the Beatles, and remixes of “Circles” by Textual and “All the World Is Mad” by Santa Ana’s Free the Robots.
“Facing the viral tunnels on MySpace one day—you know how you find one band, and you click on their friends?—that’s how I came across Free the Robots,” Breckenridge says. “It was so cool, and it wasn’t anything I had heard. I was stoked they were local, too.”
All four of the guys are involved in the writing process, and each brings a distinctive sensibility to the party. Kensrue, who also has a solo project, digs country; Teranishi prefers blues. Electro beats appear thanks to Breckenridge.
“The variety of influences we have is more apparent in this record than in previous releases,” Breckenridge says. “We really wanted to focus on the four of us in the same room, jamming stuff out and letting ideas develop naturally.”
Having wrapped a stint on this summer’s Warped Tour, Thrice start up another tour in October with Brand New and are scheduled to headline at the House of Blues in Anaheim on Nov. 24 and 25. Who knows—maybe they’ll even return to Irvine and play for their 15-year reunion?
“We can play lunchtime at Uni,” Breckenridge says, referring to University High School, where Riley and his brother Eddie, who plays bass in the band, graduated. “That’s the kind of thing that makes you want to pick up an instrument and play.”
Thrice can be found online at www.thrice.net.