In May of 2016, post-hardcore stalwarts Thrice, returned to the music scene after a four-year absence. The Irvine natives came back to the delight of Orange County and rock fans worldwide. Their appropriately titled eighth studio album, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, reminded radio listeners and music pundits what the OC group were capable of. Returning to the road seemed inevitable and given the chance to open for fellow thrashers Deftones and Rise Against, the guys jumped on board.
Playing their lone SoCal date of the tour in Chula Vista, I met up with guitarist/singer Dustin Kensrue, lead guitarist Teppei Teranishi, bassist Eddie Breckenridge, and drummer Riley Breckenridge.
We discussed new and old challenges from the music industry, coming back to the forefront, and what’s in line to come. The guys seemed at ease, genuinely excited being on a tour bus once again and eager to play for new audiences.
OC Weekly (Michael Silver): What has it been like on this new tour with Deftones and Rise Against? Any challenges along the way?
Dustin Kensrue: It’s been good, definitely different. We’re usually doing headlining tours and we haven’t done a long, proper support tour in years. Playing in broad daylight with people still coming in is a different vibe. It’s like we’re starting out, people are getting into their seats, it’s hot, the crowd doesn’t know what to think but by the end everyone seems pretty stoked.
In 2012 the group went on hiatus, saying you were ‘Taking a break from being a full-time band.’ Did putting out the new album and being asked to open for respected bands get you excited again?
I think we’re changing up the way that we do it. We’re not crazy full out touring all the time now, which is better in the long run. Playing our music live is definitely part of who we are and who we want to be. You don’t want to kill yourself and not make it fun. Basically trying to tilt the balance a little bit more towards long-term health rather than short-term opportunities.
Touching on the draining effect, was it in part from the touring lifestyle or did you want to start families and go in separate directions personally?
At the end of the day we’ve been doing this straight for 14 or 15 years without any substantial break in there. You can’t do anything that long without stepping back for perspective and appreciation for what it is. Coming back to it was really healthy and life giving for everybody.
I read in an interview last year that Dustin and Teppei saw Brand New’s comeback tour. Did that night inspire the return of Thrice?
Yeah we were both at the show up in Seattle and started talking about it and got the ball rolling. We texted the guys and went from there.
How long after talking with Eddie and Riley did you find yourselves back in the studio and finishing the subsequent new record, To Be Everywhere, Is To Be Nowhere?
It was about a year and change before we started actually recording
Was there any initial growing pains or was it simply getting back together working on a new project?
It felt like all the same, the intuition and connection we’ve built over the years with a fresh setting.
I grew up in Irvine then moved to Tustin. It’s ironic that Green Records is where I was introduced to your early records, First Impressions and Identity Crisis. Tell me about the band’s relationship with that store.
Dustin started working there when he was 17, right when we started the band. Andy Greene who ran the shop was awesome and Ron Martinez was putting together shows at Chain Reaction. They were stoked that we were doing something and they offered to put out our first record.
So we made Greenflag Records, just so they could put out the record. It was cool to see the local community and generation before help us out and we sold our music at the store and other shops in the area.
Who creates the set list for each show? Do fans have any influence on social media?
Sometimes we make a rough template and talk it out. We switched out one song on this tour a few dates in and stuck with it. With a short set that’s cool to have a rhythm to it that everyone is feeling in tune to do. It feels short compared to the sets we usually play.
When was the last time you guys played a small intimate show like Chain Reaction? Any chance you play there in the future for a hometown show?
Maybe when we go to Europe. Most of the venues there are smaller for sure. We would have to do multiple shows there (Chain Reaction) or do it unannounced somehow to make it fair for the fans.
Is there any one particular album from your catalog that you personally enjoy playing more or fans through social media ask to hear more in general?
There are people who always want to hear Illusion of Safety, but it’s such a small number. It’s like medieval times, with a bunch of different camps. I say there’s a big chunk of people who say Vheissu is kind of their fav. Meanwhile there’s a large fan base that enjoy it all. We’ve been playing our new record a lot on previous tours, probably six out 20 songs and since the day we started playing it the people have been responding really, really well so it’s been fun.
Has the business side of the music industry ever burned you or made anyone feel jaded?
Not necessarily, it’s always been in such flux since we came into it. We got into when things became very volatile and just going a certain way forever and then everything started shifting really quickly. We’ve rolled with it the best we can. The way that the industry has changed has affected us but we’ve been a touring live band so we’re still doing that. We can still do that, and it’s our strong point. I guess we don’t have the perspective of being a career band that can make money from records too.
The digital streaming era that we’re in: has it changed the way you approach making an album or how you present it?
It hasn’t yet but I’ve been thinking about it more and more. As far as writing, the music and art is always going to come first. The format in which you release music is interesting how it’s changed over time whether it’s making an actual record or housing just a single. CD’s affected how people wrote things so I’m sure the digital stuff will have its impact on the art.
What are Thrice’s plans when this tour wraps up? What can fans expect from the group in 2018?
We’re writing new songs on tour and getting all of the ideas out there. We’ll start refining them as we get home. The record should be coming out next summer and our new tour starts in the fall.