Alternative Press #328, featuring my cover story on Mayday Parade, is now available on newsstands everywhere! You should be able to find it at Barnes and Noble, some Targets, and most anywhere music mags are sold. Both physical and digital copies are also available HERE.
so as I alluded to earlier, I wrote a feature on Being As An Ocean for Alternative Press Magazine. You can pick up issue 311 / June 2014 starting tomorrow; if you’re a subscriber, you might already have your copy. I hope you read it – I had a lot of fun, and put a lot of work into, writing it.
(also, it’s a real kick seeing my name alongside Evan Lucy and Bob Ham, two writers whose work I greatly admire)
Thursday – Jet Black New Year
I still remember picking up this issue of AltPress off the rack, the first one I had read since the mid-90s. I haven’t missed an issue since.
This week, within days of each other, onetime tourmates and AltPress co-coverboys Thursday and Thrice both announced that they were calling it a day.
It’s easy to forget just what was happening in the music world before Thursday broke through. The boy band era and nu metal were winding down; the garage rock revival was in full swing, or at least Spin Magazine seemed to think so. I was listening almost exclusively to indie rock (which, frankly, wasn’t doing a whole lot for me even then) and alt-country (which was, but it was clear that that scene had peaked and begun it’s downslope too). Thursday and Thrice (along with Coheed & Cambria) were the ones to really pull me back into any sort of heavier music. (Alkaline Trio and Brand New get credit for pulling me back into punk at around the same time).
But Thursday were important more than just personally; they don’t get enough credit for it now, but they basically changed the course of the entire music industry for a couple years. They were really the first band from whatever-it-was-they-were-from – emo, screamo, posthardcore, people are still arguing over names but I think we’re all at least on the same page conceptually – to find anything resembling mainstream recognition. (You could make an argument that At The Drive-In were first, but they imploded just as they were starting to break through, and I’m not sure there was any sustained momentum. They feel more like they were “a few years ahead of their time” than “a part of what came later”). Certainly Thursday were the first band featuring hardcore-style screamed vocals to make a dent in the overground, kicking the door open for a flood of bands like Hawthorne Heights to rush in. They were followed by wave after wave of tight black t-shirts and dyed black hair. I don’t blame them for the era’s excesses, its cliches, but it takes a powerful and important act to set that kind of enduring pattern.
And the music, oh, the music – aggressive and slashing but lyrical; Geoff Rickly’s vocal lines defying all manner of convention, clusters of poetry crammed into too little space, music almost forcibly contorted and warped around them. “Understanding In A Car Crash” wasn’t just the title of their breakthrough single, it was a note-perfect description of their sound. It was a sound that shifted as the band grew, turning both heavier and more atmospheric, the brutal and beautiful noise of giant planets crashing together in far-off galaxies, and while I always respected where they followed their muse, I never found them quite as compelling as they were on those first few albums. I appreciate atmosphere but I crave immediacy; I suspect much of their fanbase felt the same way. That, along with the realities of life as their audience approached middle age (less time, more responsibility) no doubt combined to equal steadily waning sales and concert attendence. The band have made no bones about the fact that their last few years have been a serious financial struggle (albeit a creatively fruitful one). So I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Thursday call it a day.
Time moves on, and music too; right now might be the best time I can remember for great, new, creative, vital music. But that period of time, 2002-2004 or so, was a really magical moment, and it and Thursday will both be missed.
(Thrice, for their part, have made it a point to leave the door open; their hiatus seems more due to shifting priorities among certain members of the band than any sort of interpersonal tensions, and while I can’t speculate on their finances, they seem to have retained a stronger, larger core fanbase. As for why I’m not writing this post about them – I could probably spend a whole week on Thrice, easy. They’re in serious consideration for my “favorite band of the 2000s” title. Definitely a subject for another time).
At Wednesday night’s show, the first night of their final tour and their final set in NYC, the band dedicated this song to Thrice. It was my favorite Thursday song even before that.