Earlier this month, the posthardcore innovators of Thrice released their tenth album, Palms. It is their first for Epitaph Records. Next Thursday, September 27, they'll return to Fort Lauderdale’s Revolution Live.
Thrice’s drummer, Riley Breckenridge, recently spoke with New Times about the bandmates' two-decade career (yes, the hiatus counts) as well as their politics and appreciating their music. But the interview began with the most logical subject: baseball.
New Times: You played baseball at Pepperdine, and now you cohost a baseball podcast, Productive Outs PRODcast. What are your thoughts on the Miami Marlins and Derek Jeter’s first season in full control?
Riley Breckenridge: I don’t know what the master plan is; I assume it’s to tank for a while and see if they can build a contender. But I know that there’s a seedy underbelly to what’s going on, and fielding an uncompetitive team is counterproductive to drawing fans and getting people encouraged to come out to support... This worked for the Astros, but I don’t know if the Marlins have the people in place to make that happen... I mean, the only compelling reasons to watch that team last year were Giancarlo and Yelich and Ozuna, and they’re all gone.
It’s so risky to gut the franchise and think you’re smart enough to figure it out.
And it’s the third time the Marlins have done this.
It seems abusive to do that over and over again... I think [Jeter] was an overrated player for much of his career, and some of that is carrying over into his ownership.
As for music, Thrice celebrates 20 years as a band in 2018. Does it ever feel that long?
No, not really. Time has flown with this band. I can remember, I think we were with Face to Face in 2001 or something like that, and they were on their ten-year anniversary tour, and they seemed so old and that they’d been a band forever. To think that we’ve doubled that is just insane to me. Definitely didn’t think this was possible when we started. To be here is surreal.
It’s a testament to our fans and a testament to whatever we wanted to do. I feel like if we would’ve tried to capitalize on the success of The Artist in the Ambulance or made a bunch of records that were in that vein musically, we would’ve fizzled out. We would’ve gotten bored.
Is that the advice you would give to younger bands who want to make it this long?
Yeah. Don’t be afraid to evolve. Even if it fails, at the end of the day, you’d rather go down swinging than feel like you’re doing whatever or trying to recapture some kind of former glory and then fizzle out that way.
Lead singer Dustin Kensrue has described To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere as a political album; it seems that Palms is a followup thematically. Do the four of you regularly debate politics?
We didn’t. We do now. Politics has become such a huge part of the daily discourse now that it’s become impossible to avoid, whether you’re talking to your bandmates or your buddy or your family. Another really political album in our discography is The Artist in the Ambulance, and that was because it was right around the time of the Iraq War and right after 9/11, so that fueled a lot of that. I think the motivation of To Be Everywhere was the fear of what could happen at the end of Obama’s term and the potential that Trump could run and win.
It bears an element to Palms lyrically because we know that things are fucked up politically, domestically, and internationally. Is there a way for us to find a message, to come together, that isn’t pointing fingers at one another, at what is wrong? Is there something inherently human that we can rally around? It’s a record that’s focused a lot on openness and acceptance and trying to find a middle ground in a world that has become exceedingly polarized in the last 18 months or two years or wherever we’re at.
What would you most like people to know about Thrice?
Whether it’s in print interviews or audio interviews or video — we’re exceedingly awkward on video — I think because our lyrical content is so serious all the time, people think we’re a somber, no-fun group of people. But when we’re on tour and we’re with our crew, or even when it’s the four of us practicing or in the studio, we’re pretty goofy dudes. We’re just all introverted. We’re not all superserious, supersad dudes. That doesn’t come across in interviews. I want people to know that, yes, we do have a pulse and we’re actually pretty fun to hang out with.
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Angel Melendez is an unabashed geek and a massive music nerd who happens to write words (and occasionally take photos) for Miami New Times. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University and an accomplished failure at two other universities, Angel is a lush and an insufferable know-it-all, and has way better taste in music than you. His wealth of useless knowledge concerning bands, film, and Batman is matched only by his embarrassingly large collection of Hawaiian shirts and onesies.