have been through it all – and then some.
The post-hardcore band – which hails from New Brunswick, New Jersey – got its footing in the late-'90s while playing countless gigs in frontman Geoff Rickly
's basement. Those shows became the stuff of legend as Rickly
and his mates went from underground heroes to unlikely major-label stars, dishing up two efforts on Island Records. Hit singles followed, as did a video that was banned from MTV, and larger-than-life tours with AFI
and even The Cure
Well, now the band has come full-circle, as it finds itself once again unsigned and much sought-after.
"I'm having such a good time," Rickly said when Buzznet caught up with him for an intimate, exclusive in-studio chat in New Jersey on Tuesday. "I'm broke ... but I'm having such a good time, and I'm doing all this stuff with all these great people."
What types of stuff, and what great people, you may ask? Well, longtime fans have probably caught wind of Thursday's surprising plans to put out a split EP with Japanese hardcore band Envy
(due this fall on indie label Temporary Residence). Thanks to the messageboards, they might also have heard about Rickly's new side project with Daryl Palumbo
) and Ben Koller
): United Nations
, a power-violence band (not to be mistaken for grind, by the by).
But not until now has Rickly gone on the record to talk about those projects, and to shed some light on Thursday's future label plans. LoudHawk.com Productions' Will Angelos
, who sings for experimental punk-hardcore band Autonym
, conducted our disgustingly in-depth interview, and also chatted up Rickly about the band's well-known feud with Victory Records, why leaving Island Records was a "godsend," and what's in store for the future (including tour plans and – no joke – sharing a stage with Method Man
). [Click the above picture to watch the full exclusive video with Thursday's Geoff Rickly.]
: So you guys are doing a tour with Envy. When I first heard about it, I was really surprised. [But] then I listened to Thursday and Envy back to back, and something about it really worked for me. How did you guys come about doing that? Geoff Rickly
: Envy's been [one of] our favorite bands for a long time. A lot of stuff on [2006's] A City by the Light Divided
was sort of influenced by Envy in a certain way. ... I had known them a long time ago. When we were more thrashy, I was mildly interested in them, but not as much as when I heard [Envy's 2003 album,] A Dead Sinking Story,
and [2001's] All the Footprints
[You've Ever Left and the Fear Expecting Ahead
]. Those two records, when I heard them, it reminded me of the whole culture we started in – doing basement shows with Saetia
, and You and I
, and Usurp Synapse
, and GoGoGo Airheart
, all these bands that used to fill me with so much love and excitement that I don't really get from as many of the bands that we tour with now. I like a lot of the bands that we tour with now – and we've been lucky to tour with bands like The Cure
and stuff, you know, amazing. But it still didn't give me that same feeling that I had when I was in the basement and it was just a bunch of kids screaming their hearts out and, like, trying to make something new. And when I heard Envy, I was like, "Oh, sh--, this is it. This is what we're trying to do. But here's this band that's taking it that next step further, like, to where they're actually kinda creating a new genre and, like, just making something super-beautiful out of it." Buzznet
: They juxtapose hardcore with like, an almost Explosions in the Sky
vibe or something at certain points. Rickly
: I completely agree. And [2006's] Insomniac Doze,
for me, they went too far to the post-rock side. Like, when I heard that, I was like, "Oh no, this is too pretty, it doesn't have as much of the chaos." Which is sort of ... those things balancing each other – for people that are familiar with Thursday, they might be surprised to know that that's sort of something that we always try to do, balance a certain kind of … contrast beauty and ugliness. And when I heard Insomniac Doze,
I was like, "Oh no, this is, like, too pretty. There's just some power missing out of it." A lot of those songs were great, but then the  EP [Abyssal
] … so good.
: When we sort of blew up in a way that we didn't expect, one of the things that happened was, suddenly, it was like, "Well, there are all these things we can't do anymore, because the label's like, 'That doesn't make sense.' " Whether it's, like, Island or Victory, you know, "That doesn't make sense. We can't put this in this record store. Really, do something better for your career." And you kind of get used to that, like, "OK, well, I have to think about my career now." And it's sort of ridiculous, 'cause Thursday never thought about their career, never cared at all.
Like, all of a sudden, after we're already doing well, we're going to worry about our career? At that point, it should just be having fun with it. And so, when we left Island and parted ways, and they were actually super-cool with us – let us out of our contract before it was done. That was ... honestly, that was like a godsend. We were like, "Let's try and remember how fun this can be. What would a dream be? Well, maybe we should do a split with Envy. Do you think that would happen?" Nobody in America knows who they are. They have a big underground following, but, like, you ask the average person about Envy, they have no idea. Buzznet
: So how did you hook up with Temporary Residence? Rickly
: Well, that was just, like, this really cool thing. I went to see the "TRL 10" [Temporary Residence's 10th anniversary] showcase. They did a weekend of shows at the Bowery Ballroom [in New York], and it was just so good, and [label founder] Jeremy [deVine] made a few announcements from stage, and I thought, "He seems like a really nice guy. I can see how much he really cares about this music. I'm just going to go thank him." So I walked up and started talking to him, and we kinda just hit it off, and then he realized, you know, what band I was in and stuff, and he was like, "That's cool that you're actually, like, a cool guy, not some kind of a douchebag or something."
So we just started going out and getting root-beer floats and hanging out talking about music. And he was kinda also fascinated because he has an unhealthy obsession with Victory Records. [He wanted to find] out [Rickly laughs
], "What was it like?" Everyone wants to know the inside scoop on Victory. So he kept asking me ... we kept saying, "We need to do a Thursday/Envy tour." And then the split came about. I'm so psyched, because he sent me a care package of vinyl. And I gotta say, Temporary Residence vinyl is the nicest vinyl you'll find. So nice; he does white with, like, black splatters ... one side is engraved. Buzznet
: You're going to do a limited-edition splatters and stuff like that [for your EP], right, for certain pressings in their Web store? Rickly
: Yeah, I'm stoked about it. Buzznet
: Is a tour with Envy possible later down the road? Rickly
: Well, that's the thing we were talking about. Like, we're really close with Converge too, and we were, like, "Dude, [a] Thursday/Converge/Envy tour would be the jam. We gotta make that happen." So hopefully – I mean, the thing is, when this is coming out, we're supposed to be in the studio recording a full-length. So we're like, "Sh--." The [timing] for it is a problem for us, but we'll figure something out." Buzznet
: Is the split going to be a teaser for where [your] sound is headed? Rickly
: A little bit. We may reuse one of the songs from the split, but we're not sure yet. I think it's a pretty good indication of the path we're following. I don't know, I think the full-length is going to be pretty exciting, though. Going to try some different stuff.
: It's funny 'cause every record label that we've signed to, we've said, "But we need to have artistic control." And they give it to you, but they just tell you what they want anyway. "It's up to you, but this is really what you should do." And then you're like, "Well, now that I have that in the back of my head, like, either I'm going to give you what you want, or I'm going to go in another direction on purpose." And either way, you're not doing what would naturally come. You're reacting to something. And with War All the Time,
that's totally what we did. 'Cause they were, like, "You should totally – Full Collapse
was so great. If you did that with maybe one or two hits on it, that'd be awesome." And we were like, "Pssht, let's make a heavy record. Screw Full Collapse
– it was all New Wave-y and stuff in parts. Forget about that." And then, with A City by the Light Divided,
they're like, "We're just thinking really cinematic, like, U2 Joshua Tree.
" And we were like, "Man, let's make it fuzzy and claustrophobic and crazy."
You just can't help but be influenced by what people want from you. So now we're just, like, "Well, nobody wants anything from us, so we can just do what we want." And then it's really cool to have people approach you about doing stuff together, like Jeremy at Temporary Residence and stuff. I just feel like a fan again, getting to do what I would like to do. Buzznet
: You also get to work again with people who care about music. Even in the independent realm, it's hard to find people ... it's getting so cutthroat now, and people have families ... it's getting harder and harder to find those people who are trying to treat music like an art form. Rickly
: It's super-hard. We have, you know, a few married guys in the band, and [bassist] Tim
] has, like, a daughter and stuff, so it's totally so hard. But you just try to do your best, you know what I mean? Because if you end up, like, making something you don't like and being a jerk to everybody, then what's the difference between that and a day job? Buzznet
: I've met people who I've felt confused by why they work in music. It seems like it should be something you want to do because you love it. Rickly
: Well, that's the thing that gets me about messageboard culture. "Well, how many records did they scan? I didn't think this record was very commercial." There were actually comments from a band that, like, has made quite a name for themselves using stuff from, like, us and Saves the Day
and some other bands, where the singer was like, "The problem with that last record that Thursday made was that they made it for themselves and not for the fans." And I didn't think, like, "What a jerk," I thought, "That sucks. Do you even think that way? I know you're not having fun. And if you're not having fun, then seriously, couldn't you make more being an accountant? 'Cause that sounds like what you're thinking about is money." I don't want to do that, I don't want to be an accountant, I wanna be in a band.Buzznet
: So you're feeling the art aspect more. Rickly
: Yeah, man, I'm having such a good time. I'm broke, and I have, like, the smallest apartment ever. I don't own a car or anything. But I'm having such a good time, and I'm doing all this stuff with all these great people, and I'm collaborating with artists I love and doing other bands with people I love. It's so great, you know?
: United Nations has 10 songs recorded. Three of them are still missing bass tracks, and one of the members who has a billion other bands has recorded about half the stuff. So we're pretty close. I think that band will release the record this summer. I hope, at least. It's going really well. We're already ... the first record I going to be a full-length on Eyeball [which released Thursday's 1999 debut, Waiting
], and then we're already doing a 7-inch on Deathwish. Buzznet
: Are you going to try to tour behind it? Rickly
: I don't think that band will ever tour, just because all the bandmembers have so much going on.
: Any one-offs, possibly? Rickly
: I'm hoping there's a show. That'd be super-fun. We're trying to figure it out. We actually have some weird stuff in the works. I was actually thinking too, like, that there's ... there's all these weird themes on the first record, and I was thinking [about making] a United Nations record called United Nations Plays Pretty for a Bunch of F---ing Babies,
and do all-children's versions of the songs, like lullabies, like sing-alongs, like the Kidz Bop
version. And this is the thing – everybody keeps saying [United Nations are] grind. It's not really grind, it's power-violence. But I think a kids' power-violence record would be so rad." Buzznet
: You gotta convince all these members that are doing so much other stuff, "Guys, you need to make time for this Kidz Bop
: "We gotta do the Kidz Bop
version, it's crucial ..." Buzznet
: "... the other record's not coming out unless you do this too." So you have a few Thursday shows coming up, and you're going to be playing with Method Man and Bobby Valentino
: Oh, that's so sick. Buzznet
: Are you going to do a little collaboration onstage? Is that what you guys were working on today? Rickly
: Yeah, that's exactly what we were doing. Weirdly enough, either it's sampled from our record or it's almost exactly the same thing – on the new Wu-Tang
record, there's a guitar part that was on "Telegraph Avenue Kiss" on our last record. All these people kept sending it to us, and we were, like, "Weird. Did the RZA
sample us, or did he just play, like, the same thing over one of their songs?" It's so close that we couldn't tell. Buzznet
: That's pretty awesome if the RZA is even listening to Thursday. Rickly
: I probably have my head up my own ass ... he's like, "That? That's Creedence
, man – I don't know what you guys are talking about." Yeah, he's like, "I just sampled it – you guys ripped it off."
: Because I've been working on the United Nations stuff, I've gone back to my record collection and listened to a bunch of stuff, bands we used to play with. I was re-listening to, like, Portraits of Past
. There's so much good stuff out there, I totally think kids should go digging and look around on all the servers and stuff and try and find some old mid-'90s crusty stuff, 'cause it rules. Buzznet
: Speaking of, you're friends with Ronen Kauffman, right? Have you read his book "New Brunswick, New Jersey, Goodbye"? Rickly
: Yeah, I did. He had me on his podcast ... Buzznet
: … yeah, I think I heard that ... Rickly
: ... and so he gave me a copy of the book. I live about two hours away by train, and I finished it by the time I got home. Buzznet
: It was unbelievable. Rickly
: It's really fast and really intimate. Buzznet
: I kind of miss that age when it was 'zines and they were really big. Rickly
: That's crazy to me, dude – the whole scene was 'zines and stuff. Buzznet
: My first show was H20
, but even so, as I grew into that ... it made me wish for something that I had never had. Is it that much different now? Rickly
: Yeah. Buzznet
: Was it way better back then? Rickly
: I don't know if it's better or worse. I'm glad that I got to go through it because, for one thing, it was like this ... it was almost like a puzzle, when you collect the pieces, and you never felt superior to the scene. You felt like, "This is so much cool stuff going on. There's so many people that are involved, and so many people that are excited, and we're all building this together slowly."
I feel like the thing that gets lost a little bit with the messageboard thing is, it's so much easier to be like, "Yeah, I've heard this, it sounds like this, it's total bullsh--. " From somebody who has listened to a 15-second clip of one song is all of a sudden ... and then it just ends up being the people with the loudest voices win. The thing that was great about 'zines was you'd read through, and if the person was smart and had something to say, you'd listen to them. If they were just, like, negative and stupid, you'd throw out the 'zine. So it was kind of the opposite from what it's like on messageboards now. I mean, I kind of appreciate how funny a lot of this stuff is. And in that way, this is way more entertaining, what we have now. But I also kinda feel like it's hard for people to talk meaningfully about anything.Buzznet
: [The '90s New Brunswick scene was] this big community that was built altogether, and not to be the bitter younger guy, but I feel so out of the loop. I'm like, "How can I meet all these dudes that built this cool underground community?" when now, if a show's not pay to play, I don't know why a band would do it. Rickly
: That stuff went on back then. There were all these pay-to-play things, and the whole basement scene was such a reaction to that. "I'm not going to f---ing pay to play. Come here, you can sleep on the floor."
There's actually this DIY organization that's trying to make an index and a directory online. I'm trying to get Thursday involved with them for helping people just fund that thing as a resource. Maybe it doesn't need to be a messageboard or anything like that, but at least a place where you can go and connect and find people and resources that you need. 'Cause it's weird, like ... I really just want that feeling back a little. And not from me, 'cause I've been through it, but I feel like there are so many young kids out there that don't even know that that could exist. That it's a possibility.Buzznet
: I'm 23 and I missed a lot of it. I thought I had experienced a good amount of it as basement shows were dying out, but it wasn't anything like Ronen described it. Rickly
: It's funny, man – every so often, there'll be a hater who's like, "Yo, Thursday's not punk rock, man. Lifetime,
basement sh-- [is real punk rock]." And you're like, "F--- you, I know you never saw Lifetime in the basement. I've seen them in all these basements. Those are my friends. Don't talk about it if you don't know." Buzznet
: So, in terms of the messageboard, do you want to describe how the Thursday sound will be going for the Envy split and forward, so later on they can hear it and tell you how wrong you are? Rickly
: That's pretty much all that ever happens. I've decided I'm not going to describe our sound anymore. Somebody was telling me that on Lambgoat, kids were like, "Yeah, Envy's real lush." 'Cause I described them as lush. And I was like, "What's wrong with 'lush' as a way to describe it? Is that a bad vocabulary word? Do people not like 'lush'?" 'Cause when I was a kid, I remember reading about shoegazer bands, and that was everything – they were all "lush." I remember being, like, "I like 'lush' as a description." Buzznet
: So you're basically saying, if anyone hears you describe anything as "lush," to basically ignore you? Rickly
: If I ever try to describe anything again, ignore me. I'm like, "Mmm, this peanut butter on this sandwich is creamy. " Everybody's going to be, like, "Creamy? What, are you crazy? Peanut butter? It has peanuts in it – how could it be creamy?" Buzznet
: With [the 2007 compilation] Kill the House Lights,
you went back to Victory. Was there a trepidation going back to a certain extent? Rickly
: There wasn't really a trepidation. We were like, "Well." [He shrugs.
] We were like, "It could go terribly wrong. So if it does, let's not worry about it." Buzznet
: A lot of [the songs,] the rights were with Victory. Rickly
: Well, yeah, a lot of those songs were Victory songs, and we wanted to use them, and we also just kind of had the feeling like, "Well, [2001's] Full Collapse
is a really important record for us, and 'Jet Black New Year' is a really important song, which is on another release [2002's Five Stories Falling
EP]. This sucks that we can't even talk to the people who control those and own them." And I think, when we were, like, attacking Victory and trying to get off, at a certain point, both of us stopped being, like, reasonable, and started being total a--holes. Buzznet
: I remember the [notorious promotional] Whoopee Cushions [Victory made for the band] ... Rickly
: Dude, I remember when I found those Whoopee Cushions. I was so bent out of shape, man. Buzznet
: At some point, you had to have found them a little bit funny. Rickly
: I kept them. It's so ridiculous, I had to. Buzznet
: [What about your next label home?] Rickly
: I think we'll probably sign in the next month. We've got it down to, like, three people. Two of them we really, really love, and it's really hard to choose between. The other is great too, just probably not for us.Thursday will perform at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on Friday; and at Montclair State University's Montclairfest in Montclair, New Jersey, on Saturday. Also, don't forget Buzznet's interview with Thursday drummer Tucker Rule from earlier this year
– check out parts one, two, three and four.