Kathy Foster of the Thermals

Having released three terrific albums on Sub Pop--including 2006's critical and commercial breakthrough

Kathy Foster Leads the Way
Kathy Foster Leads the Way
Alicia J. Rose

OC Weekly (Doug Wallen): What's the new record sounding like so far?

Kathy Foster: We've been saying it's our dark album. It's darker in sound and theme. I've been writing a lot of the songs on this record on the bass. And Hutch wanted to write more songs where he's playing less and more sparsely on the guitar and playing note-y lines instead of power chords. And I tend to write darker melodies. We're just trying to change it up. Hutch is singing a lot about love, but about the difficult and darker sides of love.

And this is your first as a proper trio in a while, after you filled on drums for the last two.

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I think that's why it's come together so quickly after the last one. It also helps in writing the songs, just developing them. We also wanted to go back to how we recorded Fuckin' A, not over-thinking it.

After the first two albums, the Thermals introduced a narrative connecting the songs on each of the last two. How did that come about?

It just happened naturally. On the Body, the Blood, the Machine, Hutch wrote lyrics to "Here's Your Future" first. That song just opened up all these other ideas, and he stayed with that theme and it became this story as we were putting it together. When we were writing the next one, Hutch was thinking he didn't want it to have as much of a theme running through it. But then it just kind of happened again. He wrote a song and it ended up following the Body, the Blood, the Machine nicely. That record ends in this apocalypse and somebody being dead, and [Now We Can See] starts with death and exploring that theme. One or two songs opened up that theme to play with.

Is there a common thread to the new songs, as with the previous pair of albums? 

Yeah, I think there's definitely a common thread. It seems to be mostly love and soul-searching and discovering some darkness in yourself.

Were you aware of possibly being pigeon-holed as this political, critical band after the success of the Body, the Blood, the Machine?

We're definitely aware of that and not wanting to be that. We like to have the freedom to do what we want on each record. At that time, that's what we were thinking about, but there's definitely a lot of other themes we like to think about and explore.

Has touring so much helped the band evolve between albums?

For sure. We were really love in with that style - really scratchy, noisy, four-track recording - but once we spend time with that for a while, we start wanting to branch out. And then the songwriting becomes more involved, progressing from record to record.

What's the status of your other longtime project, All Girl Summer Fun Band?

We don't play very much. I get to play drums [with them], which I miss. I play bass so much now. I love playing those different songs and singing all together.

Click for Doug Wallen's feature on the Thermals running in OC Weekly that streeted today.

The Thermals performs with Thao & the Get Down Stay Down at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600; Tues., Feb. 9, 9 p.m. $15.

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