When Thursday released Full Collapse in 2001, the New Brunswick, New Jersey, band had no idea it was about to become screamo's spokesman. Eight years and three drama-drenched label changes later, the group is celebrating the release of Common Existence, its fifth full-length and first for Epitaph Records. Drummer Tucker Rule spoke with B-Sides in advance of the band's headlining appearance at this year's Taste of Chaos tour.
B-Sides: Dave Fridmann produced your last two records. What made you want to work with him? He's an incredible producer, but he seems kind of like an odd fit for your style.
Tucker Rule: Well, for [A] City by the Light Divided, we wanted a very live sound. We wanted to capture what we sound like in a rehearsal space, but in the context of a professional recording. We've all been fans of his stuff; all of his records sound really weird and interesting. You put headphones on and you hear all the sounds — and they're all insane, and that was a big attraction to us. I mean, he's done records like Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev and Mogwai, and all that stuff is really cool shit. And it was such a great experience that we wanted to do it again on Common Existence.
So if A City by the Light Divided was your "live record," what is Common Existence all about?
Well, we just hit the ten-year mark, so we just kind of wanted to capture the energy and power of Waiting and Full Collapse and the melodies from War All the Time and that experimental side of [A] City by the Light Divided and kind of put it all together. And hopefully, it'll give kids the same feeling they got when they listened to Full Collapse the first time, but it also has that experimental side of a band kind of growing into their own a little more.
Kind of like a Thursday greatest-hits package.
Yeah, and the record itself is kind of faster than what we normally do. And we're a bunch of old dudes now, so we just decided to go for it with these tunes.
Common Existence is your first record for Epitaph. Your falling out with Victory was kind of notorious, but I guess you made amends with the label because it released the Kill the House Lights DVD.
A little bit. They owned a lot of the Full Collapse songs, which we needed to use for the DVD, so it only made sense to have a partnership for that one-off. Full Collapse is still the record people seem to really hold onto, so they do have a part of our history.
The influence that record has had is interesting because it was one of those records that didn't really explode the week of its release date.
Yeah, it was great. It was gradual. This band is all about that — we're not trying to put out the next fucking big thing. We don't mind the slow build, because when you build slowly, you get fans that really care about your band. It's not like you're just the next thing they're supposed to be into. You're building fans while you build a career.
I remember Full Collapse kind of getting At the Drive-In comparisons.
Well, At the Drive-In was a huge influence. You could just feel the energy listening to the record. They weren't just songs, they were, like, something that exploded out of your stereo, and you could feel the nervousness and craziness of it. So that was something that intrigued all of us. My favorite band in the world is Quicksand, who is fucking phenomenal.
I saw that you referenced Quicksand and My Bloody Valentine as influences on "Friends in the Armed Forces."
Absolutely. We actually got Walter Schreifels from Quicksand to sing on that song.
It seems like you guys kind of have the resources to be like, "This guy was a huge deal to us; let's have him on our record." That has to be pretty satisfying.
It's awesome, man, because these people are our friends. [Thursday frontman] Geoff [Rickly] was on the subway in New York, and he happened to be on the same car as Walter, and it was this big reunion. They hadn't seen each other in a couple of years and Geoff said, "It's funny I ran into you, because we have this song and I think it lends itself to something that you're really awesome at." I still get a little "Holy shit, that's Walter," and it's way more than if I were to see any celebrity.
When you talk about the "experimental side" of Thursday, what are you referring to?
Some of the sounds, some of the time changes or textures in the record. Geoff maybe singing more, the drums getting a little more technical, the guitar players using pedals more than we used to. Plus, our keyboard player, Andrew [Everding], is very good at putting these layers over the music that make it very beautiful. It's kind of like a soundscape.
I've read that he's a big Philip Glass fan.
Yeah, he's obsessed. And he's also really into pop, which is awesome. He loves Depeche Mode and Morrissey and having that element in the band is really cool.
Yeah, it keeps you guys grounded in a way that people want to listen to your band. It's a lot friendlier than most hardcore.
Yeah, totally. And I also think it's like, all of our music is very non-elitist. Everybody tries to pigeonhole every single band, us included. And it's kind of like, "Well, I don't really think we should be pigeonholed, because we're gonna write this song that's totally outside of our genre." And we're not afraid to write weird songs and go in directions that may seem strange, but we like them and we're not writing for anybody else but ourselves.