Just wrapped up an interview Dustin in Baltimore. Reblogging to your friends would be greatly appreciated. Also I have no idea what my bold or italicized words wont appear as such.
***Jan 26 2011. I re-edited this piece as it was pretty brutal with grammar errors etc. When I originally transcribed it I rushed to get it up and by no means did a final proof read. Thank you to everyone who pointed this out. Enjoy.******
Thrice has played a lot of varied spaces, be it small clubs or 20,000 seat arenas. Does the mindset change depending on where you play? Is there a quintessential environment to see Thrice?
I would say mid-size clubs, there are benefits to everything. Its fun playing those big places in terms of having more space on the stage but a lot of times it ends up having a disconnect between the band and the audience. Small rooms, it gets very overly chaotic and smooshed we are aware of that sense of lost intimacy though.
What about playing a festival, does that change your mindset at all?
Our mindset doesn’t really change much going into anything, there are certain weird situations like playing a TV show that is a little more disconnected…the people are faraway, being filmed, its just weird. We try and approach it all the same.
You have said before that earlier in your career Thrice didn’t start off with the thought of making music their full time thing, at one point did that change?
It really just kind of happened over time. We all of a sudden were gone all the time. Touring constantly trying to get our name out there. I had been working part time when I was home, and then I wasn’t home at all to ever work. When you stop going to school and working you make that call to try and make it your career.
A lot has been said about the punk scene of the beginning of the decade. How already it is a time and place that is lost to a new fan. I don’t know if you agree with that but I was curious to get your take.
I’m not really sure. We’ve been thrown into various things over time, groups, names, I never really felt an affinity for any of them. We have always been on the outside at least in our own opinion. Coming up in Orange County playing with any type of band you can think of, from pop/punk to hardcore to whatever. We just played the shows but never really felt like we fit in with any of them. There has never really been a sweet spot in our heart for anything emo or screamo or whatever that thing kind of evolved into. So never really anything that we felt good from that, though there was a lot negative because we didn’t like being associated with it.
Each one of your records has a very distinct sound to it, is that at all deliberate?
I guess partially, the actual sound it ends up being is not necessarily deliberate but there is a deliberate drive to challenge ourselves and do something we are excited about doing at that time. We never wanted to be constrained by what we would guess to be popular or what might appease certain people, be it fans, or..radio,TV. That has been the driving force just to express differently at different times, sometimes its a response to response to what we did previously, whether we liked it. Beggars is very much a response to The Alchemy Index, though we liked Alchemy, I don’t want to do anything like that right now. So we decided to do something totally different, and made a completely different record.
Going forward do you see yourself following that kind of pattern?
I think coming out of Beggars we had a ton of fun making that record and playing those songs live. So I think the next record will have the least jarring change that we have had between records for a long time. There will be definitely have its own sound as well but it will definitely be a less jarring experience.
You started covering Helter Skelter a while back, did you always intend to record that as a b-side?
We had talked about it and then busted it out really quick…the record leaked so early that we had to scramble to figured out ways to salvage that. Even covering that sound was very influential to how Beggars ended up feeling, the way that song feels to play live, it definitely had some influence on the way we wrote that record.
You have talked a lot about how you felt about the leak, I’m curious as to if there are any preventative measures you can make as a band to further insure that, that doesn’t happen again.
There is absolutely nothing we could have personally done. It was deliberately stolen from the website. Not like at the plant that makes the records like it usually happened. We didn’t even have the record in our hands by the time that it leaked so there really is nothing more we can do.
What literature has had an impact on both your music and as a person?
Outside of the Bible I would say C.S Lewis probably the most formative for me. I like G.K Chesterton a lot. I try and read a bunch of different things, be it fiction or non-fiction. I draw a lot of ideas from non-fiction though I think reading fiction, even if you don’t connect to the lines directly its feeding your brain with images and things to draw from.
In terms of inspiration is there any one thing you will always be able to draw from?
Definitely the Bible I draw from that a lot. Usually not as the starting point for things, but it is very much where I am rooted. I feel like it speaks to a lot of things, thats where I naturally gravitate from. I constantly inspired and challenged by reading it.
I know you have an interest in Philosophy. Plato holds a theory, and I paraphrase here, that once an artist creates something, be it a drawing, a song or whatever, as soon as it reaches the consumption of others it is no longer his. Do you think that is valid, is there a disconnect from your work once its out there for people to pick apart.
I think there is definitely a life that it takes on that is beyond what you have put into it. There is actually a song on The Alchemy Index that is basically about that, “ As The Crow Flies.” Its this metaphor for finding this big bird that is speaking to the idea of a muse, that already you are discovering something more so than you are actually creating it. You attend to it for a while and help it develop and then, “oh” its out of your hands. I don’t think that that implies that there shouldn’t be lasting meaning to what you have put into something. You should at least intend for it to be something, you definitely don’t have the control over it to a certain degree.
Is there added pressure knowing that your work will always be picked apart.
Well that is going to happen no matter what, even if you do try and avoid it. Even if you dropped any kind of poetic license, people will still mangle it. My pressure more comes from wanting to do something that isn’t lazy. It is very easy to write a lot of lyrics that are very….I don’t want to say that you shouldn’t write lyrics that are cryptic because I certainly do it at times, but there is a way to do it that is very lazy and easy, I strive to stay away from that.
Is there any one set scenario you find you get your best work out of, or do you just write as you go?
I spend a lot of time like playing with puzzle pieces in my head, I have this image that I can make but I don’t know what it is yet. So I kind of look at them next to each other and shuffle them around. Its like you have a bunch of puzzle pieces from different puzzles and some of them are for a puzzle you aren’t making so its like “ah this one isn’t for this puzzle, but it can work over here.” Thats how my brain sort of approaches it. In terms of making the songs work, aside from the lyrics its a rather democratic process as a band.
How do you separate ideas for Thrice material and what will be on your solo work?
I am taking down snippets of things all the time and try to categorize them to see where they are going and slowly develop little bits of things. The solo stuff comes out of things I am needling around with that don’t seem to work for Thrice they slowly develop as I pick up a guitar and mess around with.
How do you approach making your set lists? As you acknowledged before, your records all have very distinct sounds. How do you make them all flow live?
There is definitely no easy way to do it, that kind of sucks(laughs) You are always bumming someone out if you don’t play there favorite song. You play songs that may not really be your favorites but you try and keep the balance to things that you enjoy and you know the people enjoy. You try and balance the flow the mood the shift in tempo. Its extremely hard, at least for us. I think our catalogue is pretty varied and it makes it more difficult than for a lot of other bands.
Anything specific played for the fans and not so much yourself anymore?
Nobody likes playing “ Artist and the Ambulance” I don’t mind playing it but everyone else kind of hates it. Ed has always hated that song(laughs) thats just Ed’s taste. We have been playing a lot of Beggars stuff, the older songs we are not especially excited to play.
Does having a personal relationship with someone who’s music you admire change how you go about listening to it?
Well, if they are a sucky human that kind of ruins the music. Though there are cases where the music is so good that you kind of have to deal with knowing that they aren’t a good human. For like Matt’s(Pryor of The Get Up Kids) music, or Chris’s(Conley of Saves The Day) music… I didn’t grow up listening to Anthony so thats a bit of a different category. I grew up with The Get Up Kids and Saves The Day, it makes me excited for them, I just heard their new records in the car-ride down here, it’s cool to have that opportunity, its very different being around your peers, but its good to always encourage. It is a different vantage point from consuming it on a personal level than consuming it on another level.
What’s next for both your work and the band’s work for the next year?
Thrice is writing a record right now and that should be out next year. I make no promises on my stuff because every-time I do I end up being wrong. God willing there will be more solo material in the future, soon.
Is there an attempt to separate yourself from some of the other bands that you are sometimes lumped in with. As an example, I saw Thrice at Bamboozle a few years back, and at this point, there aren’t really a lot of bands in your vain playing a festival like that or Warped Tour.
There are not a bunch of bands that we really relate to that came out of the same place as we did. Glassjaw, Brand New, Saves The Day, bands that have continued to push themselves and seem to care more about the music than about being successful. All of those bands sound very different, but they came from a solid place and are pushing forward and are trying to be the kings of this little pack. I don’t have an affinity one way or another…I have more a negative feel for a lot of this stuff, because there are so many copy cat, shallow bands, making poor music that is unimaginative. As something develops it tends to generally turns into that and that kind of movement you see now. We just play shows and its not always easy. For us we wish we could move out into a larger realm but we have also a stigma about us because we have people that will go “oh thats that band from 2003 that put out Artist and The Ambulance or Illusion of Safety.” So that band is put into this category with all of these other bands, and we would never tour with those other bands. We are a completely different band from even a couple records ago, and we will continue to be. So we are kind of between a rock and a hard place in terms of that.