When Thrice returns to Cain's Ballroom touring behind its latest CD, Major/Minor, this coming Tuesday (May 8), it will be more than just another tour stop. It will be a chance for Tulsa fans to revel in the band's career and bid it a fond farewell. Although the ever evolving band has arguably reached a new plateau with its latest release, the group is preparing to hang things up following this tour and take an indefinite hiatus.
When discussing the announcement with bassist Ed Breckinridge recently, he said that "It was Dustin's (Kensrue, guitarist and lead vocalist) decision, really. We're just kind of in a position where we have to deal with it and find a new career path."
In Kensrue's official band statement, he said "Thrice is not breaking up. If nothing has broken us up by now, I doubt anything ever could. However, we will be taking a break from being a full-time band and the upcoming tour in the spring will be the last one for the foreseeable future."
Looking back, the band formed in 1998 and released its first EP in '99, following it with a strong 14 year career that never saw the band stagnate or stand still creatively. In reflecting on that period, Breckinridge said "It's interesting because you look at all your friends from school and them having careers and how our lives have gone in different directions. They all have more traditional jobs and families and we got to make music and travel and see and experience the world with a different perspective."
Perhaps the main factor that has contributed to the band's lengthy career is its ability and willingness to evolve. After making its major breakthrough with The Artist in the Ambulance (released on Island records in 2003), Thrice continued to grow and refused to be pigeon-holed or fall into a creative rut. While Vhiessu saw the band spread its wings and experiment creatively, the four-sided Alchemy Index truly pushed their collective boundaries, exploring the elements of fire and water on Volumes One and Two, followed by Air and Earth of Volumes Three and Four. Each volume or side explored its respective element thematically in both its lyrics and sound.
When discussing the band's approach to Major/Minor, Breckinridge said that "It started out pretty similar to the last album. We like how things went with Beggars as far as the magic that happens and comes out of thin air when people are in a room together."
"Before, starting with Vhiessu, we were introduced to writing that could be done on computers with sequencers and programming," he continued. "There's a lot of that magic that's lost, though, being alone in a room in front of a computer screen."
Breckinridge also shared that while the band initially went in with a concept and plan for the album to have a darker tone, the record evolved as it was being written and recorded. At the time, the bassist's father (and that of brother/drummer Riley Breckinridge) was dealing with cancer and as things turned worse, he passed away in the middle of the writing process.
"The record became an interesting push and pull and I think the title represents that: the darker with the light and the heavier music with the melodies," he continued. "It came about that this record totally represents life."
That perspective on life is something that everyone in the band has experienced, as band leader Dustin Kensrue's father just passed away a few weeks ago and guitarist Teppei Teranishi lost his mother about two years ago. "We've all gone through the same shift," Breckinridge said, "And we've all lost parents to cancer, which is a horrible disease."
Ultimately, that push and pull comes through vividly in the band's latest album. As one of the most creative groups to have come out of the post-hardcore crowd in the early 2000s, Thrice has always had an aggressive and dynamic edge, but that battle with cancer and loss informed the new album and the band's writing style to help create one of their most visceral and live sounding albums of its career.
As the group wraps up this chapter of its career, it has to find a way to balance presenting the new material with revisiting the rest of its career as it says farewell to its fans on what could possibly be the final tour. When asked how the band is approaching that challenge, Breckinridge said that "We did an online survey on our website, asking what people wanted to hear, and we got a really good response."
"We're going from that list, which is mostly peoples' favorites from each album," he said. "We'll be rehearsing this coming week, but it should be awesome and a fun show, although it will be really different from past tours. Some points may not be as good as others, simply because we'll be playing some of the older stuff that we haven't played for a long time. It should be a lot of fun, but bittersweet."
When looking to the future and what's in store for Breckinridge after Thrice wraps things up, he shared that "Music is a huge part of all our lives, so I'm sure we'll all be making music in some way. We all write anyway, so that won't change."
In fact, Breckinridge said that he and his brother have already starting writing for another project, which he said is "something I've always wanted to do, but I didn't want it to conflict with Thrice."
As for Thrice, even though the band is preparing to go on indefinite hiatus and the closing of this chapter in the band's career is bittersweet, Breckinridge said "There's always a chance we'll do something again in the future, like Dustin said."
As for now, however, Thrice is walking away with a powerful new record that explores the push and pull of life and death and the balance of light and dark, reflecting everything the band has dealt with over the last couple of years. This farewell tour promises to be a special show for fans both new and old, a revisiting of the band's early catalog and a showcase of how far it has come and how much it has evolved.
The tour stops at Cain's Ballroom on Tuesday, May 8 with special guests Animals as Leaders and O'Brother opening the show at 7:30pm. Tickets are still available for fans to celebrate the band's history and say farewell for now.
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