Just a few days before the end of 2014, Thrice announced their reunion. In some ways, the timing made sense. Most of their contemporaries from the 2000s post-hardcore/emo/screamo/alternative scene were getting back together, making Thrice’s music as popular as ever.
On the other hand, the band had shown no public signs of interest in getting back together since their hiatus in 2012. Each of the band’s four members went on to do their own projects. Frontman Dustin Kensrue moved to Washington for a couple of years to become a worship pastor of Mars Hill Church's Bellevue campus when the band took a break. But after a year or so, he stepped down from his position in 2014 and switched to a smaller church in California just prior to the Mark Driscol scandal. He also continued his solo career which began toward the end of Thrice’s first run—so a reunion didn’t seem like it was in anyone’s best interest.
But throughout the second half of 2015, Thrice set the clock back a decade as they appeared at several festivals across the country after performing a few smaller local shows to shake the rust off. Whether they’d been rocking out to the quartet since the release of Identity Crisis in 2000 or hadn’t yet been able to see them live, fans filled every tour date to catch their first live listen of songs new and old. While Thrice aficionados were thrilled to jump in the mosh pit and incessantly call out for “Deadbolt,” the inconsistent festival dates and set lengths never really allowed the band to get into a groove.
“We played a lot of random one-off shows and festivals last year, so it was really hectic and didn’t let us get settled in,” Kensrue says. “They were all either warm-up shows with a bunch of rabid Thrice fans or festivals. Festivals are always a mixed bag, but they’re fun. We played Taste of Chaos in San Bernardino in October, and that was a blast. It felt like a homecoming show for us.”
For anyone in attendance, it didn’t seem like a band coming off of a three-year layoff. While some reunion tours can be a bit awkward, Kensrue, guitarist Teppei Teranishi (who also produced some of Kensrue’s solo work), and the brotherly rhythm section of bassist Eddie Breckenridge and drummer Riley Breckenridge already sounded like they’d never missed a beat by the time they got to San Bernardino. The fans may have been unsure of how one of their favorite bands would sound after the extended absence, but Kensrue knew it wouldn’t take long for the longtime friends to meld.
“It’s great to play with these guys again,” Kensrue says. “We’ve done it long enough that it doesn’t feel weird when we take some time off, but I don’t think we’ll be taking that much time off again.”
With a new record, To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere, due out May 27, Thrice won’t have a chance to take too much time off this year. With a national tour occupying the month of June and some European dates lined up in August, the four-piece from Irvine have a busy few months ahead of them. But first, Kensrue and the band are awaiting the general reaction to the latest evolution of Thrice’s signature sound – in Kensrue’s eyes, it’s as good or better than fan-favorite albums like The Illusion of Safety (2002) and The Artist in the Ambulance (2003).
“I think the record is fantastic,” Kensrue says. “I definitely like the past couple records we’ve done, but I think [To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere] is stronger than anything we’ve ever done as a complete record. It’s not as big as The Alchemy Index was, but every song on it is great, and they all fit together really well.”
As much as the 35-year-old Kensrue enjoys the new album, there’s no doubt there will be some fans who clamor for the angry young man who screamed his way through life’s mysteries and problems well over a decade ago. Although still unmistakably the same group of musicians, Thrice’s music has matured with them as people. Their fan base’s response to the two songs released ahead of the album – “Blood on the Sand” and “Black Honey” – has been mostly favorable, but few will show up to the concerts not wanting to hear the songs that they’ve spun hundreds of times over the last decade. For Kensrue, looking back on those first few albums can be like checking out his high school yearbook.
“I can still connect with it, but in a very different sense than something I’m doing now or working on right now,” Kensrue says. “I listen to some stuff that we did back then, and it sounds like we know what we’re doing. But it’s also like looking at a picture of an old haircut sometimes. It can seem funny now, even though we were serious back then.”
Of course, that’s not to say they won’t be revisiting any of their older material on the upcoming tour. Thrice will actually be busting out some tunes that haven’t seen the light of day in a very long time, because they know how many of their fans will be back again this year after seeing them at shows like Taste of Chaos just a handful of months ago.
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“We’re going to be playing a song on the upcoming tour that we haven’t played live in about 12 years,” Kensrue says. “We’re trying to pull out some songs that we’ve never played or that we haven’t played in a very long time, so people who came out last year – or even to the shows we did in 2011 – will get something different. We don’t want people to feel like it’s a show they’ve seen already.”
Mixing in the classics along with the new material will be the key to keeping their fans happy, as no band with nine full-length releases spread over nearly two decades can possibly please everyone. Oh, and that catalog will likely be added to in upcoming years, as Thrice doesn’t plan on going away again anytime soon.
“For all intents and purposes, we’re back as a full-time band,” Kensrue says. “We’re going to be touring with a more sustainable rhythm, so we’ll do about three weeks of touring and then take a little time off. We’re not going to be burning ourselves out again.”
As long as Thrice doesn’t decide to take years off again, their fans won’t mind giving them some time to recover between short tours. They can’t play everywhere all the time, after all, because to be everywhere is to be nowhere.