When we catch up with Thrice‘s Dustin Kensrue and Teppei Teranishi in a constantly busy press area at Download, it’s understandable they are taken aback when we tell them it’s been 15 years since their one and only appearance at Donington. Having toured on and off for the best part of 20 years, it’s no surprise Dustin and Teppei are somewhat puzzled by the fact.
“Festivals are really hard to keep straight. They’re all in a big field,” admits vocalist and guitarist Kensrue with Teranishi expanding by saying, “They all merge into one after awhile. Now that we’re here, I do remember the race track. I distinctively remember Metallica playing.”
Although there is no surprise Metallica set like their last visit to Download, Thrice arrived at Donington with a purpose. In the days prior to the festival, news emerged they had joined Epitaph Records, an independent label with a long influence and growing legacy. For both Dustin and Teppei, it somewhat sees them coming full circle. “We grew up listening to tons of Epitaph bands,” says Kensrue before explaining why they joined the label. “I think it’s a really good vibe there. Mr Brett Gurewitz (Epitaph founder) came out of a similar place that we came out of. I feel like he understands our bands perspective and he really wants to take care of them. We’re excited about it.”
With a new record deal now out in the open, you’d expect talk of a new record would follow yet the duo keep their cards to their chest. Even though they can’t talk in-depth about a new album, they do offer a hint of its lyrical tone with Dustin saying the record comes from “a different slate,” compared to 2016’s politically-minded comeback record, ‘To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere.’
Considerably, ‘The Grey,’ a single that was paired with the recent Epitaph news is a sign of things to come. With an intense instrumental texture, the track sees Kensrue take a familiar introspective look, realising everything isn’t always black and white.
“It’s a song that took awhile to finish,” he tells us. “We had that first riff and we knew something cool was happening there, but it took a bunch of different options flying round to coalescing into that.
“The song is about moving past these certainties we have about so many things and trying to see things from multiple perspectives, and not leaning into thinking you know everything.”
Their visit to Download is part of a month-long European adventure combining festival spots with headline shows that sees rising Belgian trio Brutus as support. With plenty of touring experience and a growing influence, we questioned how much input Thrice have when it comes to choosing support acts. Teppei admits “a myriad of different logistics” need to fall into place, as he namechecks Boston indie rockers Pile as one of many obscure bands he’d like take out on the road. Unfortunately, the combination of touring with “unknown” bands and playing large club-sized venues that Thrice regularly visit doesn’t always add up.
“A lot of times it’s like ‘let’s take this band’ and then we’ll be told they don’t draw enough for that slot,” says Dustin with his bandmate adding, “It’s tough. We seem to like bands that aren’t fully functioning or they’re just really obscure. Our booking agent says ‘they’re not worth anything’.”
While they may find themselves in a tricky position to bring forward new bands, Thrice are seemingly about to embark on the next phase of a career that becomes more influential with every record.
‘The Grey’ by Thrice is available now on Epitaph Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)
View more of Already Heard’s Download Festival 2018 coverage here.
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