By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Grief has its own way of bringing you to an altered mind-set, creatively, or at least help more feeling come out. Eddie says the song "Cataracts" is proof of that, born out of noodling around in the studio. "It's hard to let [emotions] out verbally or physically," he says, "but if you have an instrument in your hand, it just oozes out of you."
If there were a song that was written because of the loss the band members were feeling, it's "Blur," which was inspired by an email Riley sent to his bandmates while tossing around ideas for album art. He had started taking slow-shutter photos of lights while driving. "I was fascinated by how it was an attempt to capture a moment in time, but because of the way the shutter's set up, you can't focus on what's in front of you," he explains. Everything, even items close up, seemed out-of-focus to Riley. "It made a lot of sense to me. With all the awful stuff that was going on, that's how life felt: getting crazy, life-changing moments piled on you and not having the time to process them or even understand them."
* * *
Thrice evolved from a crop of screamo, metal-punk bands of the early 2000s to produce an Iron Maiden-meets-NOFX sound that no one had really done before. They shed the screamo label years ago in favor of a more mature, sophisticated term: "experimental post-hardcore." But, as Teranishi notes, "People never felt like we fit into any OC music scene when we were coming up." Irvine, where the band grew up, could actually be the missing link.
"Thrice is one of the loudest bands I've ever seen, and they're one of the cleanest bands [tone-wise] I've ever seen," says Scott Heisel, music editor of hardcore/punk/rock bible Alternative Press.
Irvine is so neat it's almost antiseptic; maybe there's a subconscious, underlying influence of that in Thrice's music. It's here that Kensrue and Teranishi started playing music together when they were 17.
Eddie, who skated with Teranishi, learned to play bass to fill out their sound. Originally, they recruited Riley, who was five years older than everyone else, to play drums for them "while looking for someone [permanent]."
Thirteen years and seven albums later (eight, if you count the Alchemy Index EPs as two), they're all still together. And other than Teranishi's recent move to Washington, they still call Orange County home. (Riley and and his girlfriend, Jennifer Shaw, live in Orange; Eddie's house is just minutes away.)
In a way, it's odd that Thrice's personal lives are at the forefront of all the talk about the new album because they've always been known as low-key, family-oriented guys. It's not a secret that Kensrue and Teranishi, who are Christian, got married in their early 20s and have been juggling their families and music careers for close to a decade. The Breckenridges are a tight unit as well; they've always spent every Sunday night with their parents (now just their mom) for family dinners. Kit lights up when telling a story about how she and her husband, Hugh, were watching a Thrice show in Ireland when some teenagers began making fun of them for being fans—until they mentioned they were Riley and Eddie's parents. Then the teenagers were flabbergasted, declaring, "Thank you for giving birth to your sons!"
It helps, obviously, that they're not crazy Keith Moon-types, and that's also why this past year and a half has seen the band so quiet. There have been no onstage dedications, no milking of sob stories for the press. "Some people want to party or be famous," Eddie says. "We just want to make music."
* * *
Kensrue, 30, is the only Thrice member who still lives in Irvine, and a week after hanging out with the Breckenridges, I've joined him in his living room, surrounded by his wife and their daughters: Sailor, 4; Piper, 1 1/2; and newborn Lucy.
It's a cute two-story house on a residential street. On my way in, I pass a plastic play house in the yard, alongside a swingset hanging from a tree on the front lawn. Inside, I find shabby-chic furniture, with only a few clues to indicate the presence of children (a stray pacifier, Disney DVDs). That changes over the course of the hour or two I'm there, as the girls play quietly and scatter Barbies on the floor while dad gets interviewed.
Of everyone in the band, it seems Kensrue is the one who has the most going on outside of Thrice. He puts out solo records, is the sole breadwinner of the family, and is a worship leader and the musical director for Mars Hill Church. Quite a bit to juggle, but Kensrue's calm, collected demeanor betrays not even a hint of stress. As his 18-month-old crawls over him, he holds his firstborn on his lap while he talks about how he manages his time. "Once the record comes out, there's going to be a lot of stuff lined up all at once, but it's all good," he says.
"I feel like we captured something in that small amount of time with different moods to it. There are shifts in mood and dynamic all throughout, but it makes sense altogether," Kensrue says. "But it feels like there's more excitement about it than any release we've had."