3hree Things: On Halloween (Plus: Thrice's Best Halloween Costumes!)

Watch out for 3hree Things every Tuesday, where Riley Breckenridge, drummer of Orange County's favorite local alt-rock band Thrice, gives his take on life in Southern California as an OC native.

If memory serves me correctly, this Halloween will be just the second that I've spent at home since 2001, and I'm not really sure what to do with myself. I'm not one for Halloween parties (nor do I have one to go to), I don't particularly like putting tiny candies into bags of kids that I don't know, and dressing up to sit on my couch with my lady and enjoy a beer, some BBQ, and Game Four of the World Series seems kind of pathetic, which is why that's exactly what I'll end up doing.

On the costume front, I think I'm a package of Just For Men: Beard N Mustache gel and a mohawk away from being able to pull off a pretty successful Brian Wilson costume. (The San Francisco Giants reliever, not the Beach Boy.) Other leading candidates for “low-priced and low-effort” costumes include: Left-Handed Me, Guy That Can't Stop Yelling, and Left-Handed Guy That Can't Stop Yelling While He Drinks Beer And Farts Repeatedly Into His Couch While Watching Game Four Of The World Series. You see where I'm headed.

I perused some of the top costumes for 2010 and I'm a little confused. Snooki, from MTV's Jersey Shore (which I can proudly say I have never watched even a microsecond of) seems to be a popular choice. While I understand that dressing as various forms of slut has been a staple in the Halloween costuming of adult females for decades, I'm not sure what the allure of dressing up like a slutty, orange pile of slob is. Aim higher, gals. Aim higher. If you want to dress down, be a zombie. At least you can use the excuse that you look like shit because you're dead.

Thrice has a long-standing tradition of going all-out for our Halloween shows; costuming the entire band and crew around a central theme, staying in costume for the duration of our set, and incorporating audio samples as set intros and segues between songs. I love it. I look forward to it every year, and find that getting in character takes some of the stresses of a normal show away. (I guess this what Slipknot and Gwar feel like at every show. Maybe they're on to something.)


Our costumery has been a learning process. In 2002, we made the mistake of donning waist-length beards and baggy cloaks as a part of a wizard-themed Halloween show in Portland with Hot Water Music and Coheed N Cambria. There's a reason why Frank Beard (drummer) of ZZ Top doesn't have one. Trying to play the drums around a bushy fake beard is no easy task, nor is dealing with two feet of extra sleeve. 

In 2005, we opted for what we though would be a more functional theme, and dressed as “Team Vheissu” (based on Team Zissou from the movie The Life Aquatic.) Band and crew were dressed in powder blue short-sleeved collared shirts, running shorts, and red beanies. We were mostly successful, aside from being pretty self-conscious about pasty, hairy, and overly exposed upper-thigh regions and the likelihood that our plumbing and/or yam bags might fall out of our shorts mid-song. 

We did, however, make the mistake of renting a couple of bubble machines to make it look like we were underwater. With a fan (the device that creates a breeze, not the abbreviation for fanatic) pointed at me to keep me cool, I found myself covered in a soapy layer of former bubbles before we'd even finished our first song. 

If you'd like to try this at home, cover yourself in dish soap, break out the Rock Band drums, set the level at “expert” and enjoy. We survived, played a pretty solid set, and I learned what it feels like to peel my ass of of a faux-leather drum throne.

Since then, I feel like we've done a slightly better job of choosing costumes that are fairly functional, but as the following pictures and text will attest, we've still got some refining to do.
Baby steps…

1) 2007: Portland, Oregon – Anchorman

We bought or borrowed polyester suits, used ABC News' bumper music as a segue between songs, and “grew” mustaches. I say “grew” because since I've been blessed with the facial hair of a 12-year-old, I had to spend $10 on a fake stache and affix it to my upper lip with copious amounts of spirit gum. 

Unfortunately, spirit gum isn't made to withstand an hour's worth of buttery drummer sweat, so I spent a majority of our set with a half-stache flapping in the musty breeze of my stage fan. Sadly, it perished after leaping to it's death and landing on my snare drum as our set came to a close.

2) 2008: Hollywood, California – Business Apes

Realizing that full-blown ape suits would be a bit unwieldy (and pricey), we opted to pick up a variety of ape masks and wear dress shirts and ugly ties. We took the stage to a mix of jungle sounds that we'd thrown together in Garageband, and survived a 40-minute set, opening for Rise Against at The Palladium. 

I foolishly chose a fairly complex gorilla mask with a moving jaw, and while having a functioning mouth was a novel idea, I managed to overlook the mask's tiny eye holes. While peripheral vision is not a necessity while playing drums in front of four thousand people, it's definitely preferred. I also made the mistake of painting my face black for authenticity's sake (We wouldn't want anyone to think that wasn't a real gorilla on stage, would we?) and sweating so profusely that I had black make up in my pores for a week. Lesson learned.

3) 2009: Houston, Texas – Star Wars

“Come to the dork side, Luke.”

We're all Star Wars dorks in some regard, with some of us being a bit more versed in Lucasfilm and literature dorkery than others (*cough* Dustin *cough*), so when the idea of having last year's Halloween show be Star Wars themed came up, we went all out. 

Dustin actually tracked down someone on eBay that makes custom Star Wars costumes for his Obi-Wan get up. I, on the other hand, relied on one of those poorly made, low-effort “costume in a plastic bag” X-Wing fighter costume that you can buy at any dump of a Halloween shop that pops up in vacant space at your local strip mall once a year, and I paid for it (literally, and figuratively.) 

Aside from it making me look like an upside down pumpkin in a diaper, it was basically an ill-fitting one-piece jumpsuit. When seated (read: drumming), any forward movement of the upper body would result in the most epic of wedgies. As you well know, drumming requires quite a bit of upper body movement, and in doing so, I ended up spending an hour on stage playing Thrice songs while vigorously flossing my ass crack with the crotch of a bright orange jumpsuit. Boo.

Happy Halloween.

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