Thrice Live at the Bren Events Center
On Oct. 7, Orange County-based Thrice headlined a sold-out show at the Bren Events Center with supporters Underoath, The Bled and Veda. This was the fourth stop on their tour with this lineup in support of the forthcoming release Vheissu.
Bassist Eddie Breckenridge was able to talk to the New University during the sound check about their tour, the new album and how Thrice’s growing popularity has affected him and the rest of the band.
Articles about Thrice always like to point out that the band is literate, especially lead singer and guitarist Dustin Kensrue. The band’s literary influence is hard to ignore and if their lyrics were not motive for inquiry alone, the name of their fourth studio album drives the message home.
‘Dustin was reading a book called ‘V’ and in the book, basically this guy is searching for the meaning of this letter V and Vheissu is one of the possible meanings,’ Breckenridge explained. ‘I can’t get super in depth about it because I haven’t read the book. I need to. We thought it was a pretty word and we wanted to have a one-word title. It doesn’t have a specific meaning.’
The book is Thomas Pynchon’s postmodern classic ‘V’ and not unexpected for a band like Thrice. The actual record is at times a bit unexpected for ‘Illusions of Safety’ and ‘Identity Crisis’ fans. Though the hardcore elements are still present, there are more mellow songs and general experimentation than on any if the past albums, which is most likely due to collaboration with producer Steve Osbourne (The Doves, Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack).
‘[Osbourne] worked all these bands that were nothing like we are and nothing like we had ever done. We really wanted our record to sound different, like less produced. We wanted it to sound like how we sound when we play, but then also do a lot of stuff that we hadn’t done before like messing with looping drums and just experimenting with sounds. I think Steve was amazing at that and he really helped us with that. It was like a big experiment,’ Breckenridge said.
The band’s previous album, ‘The Artist in the Ambulance,’ was their most popular record to date, with singles on the radio and music videos on MTV. It had a massive impact on popularizing a heavier genre of music, one that mixes melodic vocals and hardcore screams. The reality of this situation was very clear at the Bren Center, where 5,000 packed into the venue to see a tour in which three out of the four bands had a heavy hardcore influence. But, as Breckenridge explained, their growing popularity had little effect on the making of their record.
‘I don’t think in any way we wrote the album that the label expected or wanted. I mean we do have songs that they think could be singles, which is cool. I really don’t feel like we had pressure from the label. I mean, maybe they were pressuring us, but we were ignoring it,’ Breckenridge said.
He went on to say that the actual writing of the record was much different than ‘Artist in the Ambulance’ because they had more time to focus on the actual production, experimenting with new ideas and trying to avoid formulaic tendencies.
‘On this record we bought a program called Reason, which is like a sampling and drum and synth program. We all wrote a bunch of songs on that or just parts like melodic lines or drum beats and a lot of that ended up being incorporated in the live tracking of it. For example, [in] one of the songs called ‘Stand and Feel Your Worth,’ which is like the second to last song, there’s an intro to it that is the actual Reason file,’ Breckenridge said.
The process of writing music for Breckenridge and Thrice is very communal, which can be expected from a band that is instrumentally technical, for a rock band, with a heavy emphasis on the vibe of the music, which is especially crucial for any band that has screaming.
‘Usually what happens is that we come with parts and then we’ll show them to everyone and then somebody else will take it home and fit it with another part,’ Breckenridge said. ‘It’s weird because everybody does everything. Riley plays tons of guitar. I play guitar and wrote guitar parts. Teppei and Dustin wrote bass parts. Everybody wrote keyboard parts.’
‘It makes it real hard though,’ Breckenridge continued. ‘Just getting everything to be finished. We don’t know when it feels done and there are also so many parts that are possible and everybody has their opinion on what could happen for the next part.’
At the Bren, openers The Bled and Underoath had serious crowd support, but Thrice was clearly embraced as the headlining act, being both the most comfortable with the large crowd and the most widely appreciated. As a fan who was most supportive in my teenage years, I was reminded of how many great old songs the band has, in addition to how much evolution has gone into the newer works.
‘I try to ignore the reality of the situation. Like this show, 5,000 people are supposed to be here. When I
play, I am going to try my hardest not to think about that,’ Breckenridge said.
As a bystander, it seems particularly interesting for Thrice to be headlining at the Bren, considering that they are actually from Irvine. Breckenridge went on to say that the situation is particularly surreal for him and his band mates. For example, guitarist Teppei’s first show attendance was actually at the very venue
that they headlined.
Breckenridge mentions that some of the very early shows were the most memorable because they were not part of a bigger tour.
‘There was this place in Santa Ana called Coo’s Cafe. It doesn’t exist anymore [in Santa Ana]. It was this old house, I remember playing a show there. It was one of the first shows where I let the nervousness go away and just had fun with playing a live show,’ Breckenridge said.
Thrice’s popularity is somewhat of a phenomenon considering some of the qualities of their specific genre of music, ones with hardcore elements. Despite these qualities, Breckenridge