Thursday: Anything But Common

Posted March 12, 2009 in
“We always give 110 percent every night. It’s no joke up there. I’ve got the hands to prove it,” said Thursday drummer Tucker Rule a few hours before headlining Rockstar’s Taste of Chaos stop in SLC on February 21st.

 Rule was right––it is no joke on stage when Thursday performs. From the first crash of a cymbal, strum of a guitar and shout over the mic, Rule and the rest of Thursday mean business and their headlining stop on the Taste of Chaos tour was no exception.

The lights went down, the adrenaline exploded and was non-stop for an over hour-long set and an encore. Singer/screamer Geoff Rickly commanded the crowd that had already seen four other bands that night alone.

Before the chaos ensued however, I sat down for a face-to-face with Rule while kids lined up outside, around the brick-enforced walls of In The Venue. In the underbelly of a basement we discussed Thursday’s touring, live shows, the dynamics of the band, record labels and most importantly, their latest grand achievement, Common Existence, the new album released in mid-February.

Anyone who has followed or even been mindful of Thursday over the last 8–10 years should be well aware that when the band is on the road, they hit it hard.

“You’re either made for it or you’re not,” said Rule of their extensive touring habits. “I think that I personally am made for it. I don’t mind it at all. Even when I get home, I still wash my clothes and put them back into my suitcase out of habit.”

Those who have seen Thursday during one of their extensive touring cycles knows that the band not only packs a punch during their live show but a 1,000 m.p.h. kick in the teeth to compliment that punch, creating a live show and atmosphere that refuses to be forgotten. There’s energy in the air that other bands would do well to learn how to create for their own shows. So what’s the trick?

“Even though we’re a band on a stage and there’s a crowd, we still want the whole room to somehow be involved. It’s the non-elitist approach of not being on a pedestal,” said Rule.

As a band, Rule and company have had to perfect this art of not putting themselves on a pedestal, not only in a live show setting with an audience, but also internally with each other. Thursday’s history has been spotted with media pressure as well as conflicts from within that have seen the band nearly part ways. Instead of tossing in the towel, the band has decided to learn, grow and become stronger. In their business, you either mature and move on or call it quits. For a band with such an astounding work ethic, calling it quits has never happened.

“We understand each other as people. We know who needs their space and when they need it. We all go home and have lives. Everybody’s got their own thing they do,” said Rule about how they are able to keep tension low within the band. “We have this new thing called ‘PMA,’” Rule added with a smile and a laugh, “which is positive mental attitude. We try to go into everyday with PMA. We also like to surround ourselves with rad people that we bring out on the crew. We have a lot of good friends with us right now that really keep the ship afloat as far as PMA.”

Keeping morale high is a key element for a band like Thursday that has run the gamut with the record labels since they began to catch fire like a dry weed field in summer around the late 1990s/early 2000s.

After outgrowing the indie label Eyeball that released their first record Waiting, Thursday moved to hardcore indie stalwart Victory Records. However, the band and label parted ways after one full-length album, Full Collapse, which brought them much of the legendary notoriety they still carry with them today.

Photo by Jeremy Wilkins

Their third studio album, War All The Time, was a huge release for the band. It was their heralded major label debut on Island Records and the press began their frenzy with the band.

“The Island days, when we put out War All The Time, everyone was dubbing us as the new Nirvana or some second coming of whatever and we never signed up for that. That was the wrong pressure. We never bought into it, but the media was still coming at us with all that crap,” said Rule.

Thursday toured on their Island debut and came back to record their fourth record, A City By The Light Divided, a highly experimental album, breaking away from a large portion of the band’s traditional sound. City was treated by critics and fans alike with extreme praise for the direction the band took or as Rule put it, “Like the plague.”

“In the first month of A City By The Light Divided, we sold 100,000 records and they pulled all the funding. The label basically called us a failure,” said Rule.

Enter Epitaph Records, Thursday’s new home, who has released the band’s latest full-length, Common Existence.

Following all the tumult of dealing with major label politics, Rule has nothing but good to say about their new home at Epitaph. “It’s great. It’s absolutely great. They’re not the machine, they get it. They’re an indie, but they’re a big, powerful indie. They’re smart. They know what it’s like to be in bands. I couldn’t complain at all.”

While label shopping and before finding the new home at Epitaph, Thursday began writing Common Existence. Rule said that not having a label during a portion of the creation of the new album was good because there was no pressure and it allowed them to concentrate whole-heartedly on the music. He also said the downside was that there were no real deadlines either, which perpetuated a longer writing and recording process than normal. However, the time was used well and has potentially brought forth one of Thursday’s most diverse recordings to date.

“It’s the energy and youth of Waiting and Full Collapse, it’s the melody and the pretty stuff from War All The Time and it’s the experimental side from A City By The Light Divided all in one,” said Rule as he described Common Existence.

The overall goal was to keep the energy high and still allow room for experimentation to take place, Rule said. “It’s faster. The record is faster in general,” Rule said, “I think we chose the right path.”

Each night they are playing several songs from Common Existence, along with the core songs that accompany a Thursday set list. As far as I could tell, the crowd seemed very pleased with the new material while Thursday performed it. Of course, when playing classics like “Jet Black New Year,” “For The Workforce Drowning,” and “Understanding In A Car Crash,” the air was thick with enthusiasm, thick enough you’d swear you could choke on it if the songs lasted any longer.

One thing is for sure, Rule is an honest man. True to his word, as they played, they gave a bare minimum of 110 percent, if not more. It was no joke up on the stage as Thursday furiously flew through a diverse set list and enlisted all the energy the crowd had left after a long night of music.