Itâ€™s a typical day for Ed Breckenridge when heâ€™s not on the road with his band Thrice.
â€œSurfing really sets my brain straight in the morning,â€ the bass player says as heâ€™s sipping a needed coffee. â€œItâ€™s something I like to do because it makes me more productiveâ€¦I think it helps with my playing.â€
Breckenridge says heâ€™s excited about the new record, To Be Everywhere is To Be Nowhere , coming out to the world on May 27th and their ninth release since announcing a hiatus 2012.
â€œIâ€™m looking forward to be doing music with these guys again â€“ itâ€™s been a long time,â€ the 36-year-old says. â€œI canâ€™t wait to get out there and play Thrice songs again.â€
Before To Be Everywhere is To Be Nowhere is to be released, Breckenridge spoke with Gen Handley at Punknews.org about the new record, playing with his older brother and which Thrice album he thinks has stood the test of time best.
How long did it take to make the new record?
I felt like the writing process was pretty quick compared to what we would normally do. I would it say it was over a six-month period, but some of the parts we had written as individuals happened over the past three years we had not been together. Thatâ€™s how it usually happens. We say, â€œOk weâ€™re going to write a new recordâ€ and we share little audio files of things and ideas and come together. The big difference with this record was we really didnâ€™t write it in a room together â€“ it was difficult and challenging in kind of a cool way. There was a lot of file sharing and we had stuff in a Dropbox and were working it out online.
How did that process affect the record?
I would say I donâ€™t prefer the process we did. (Laughs) But it was just the way things had to be because Teppei was up in Washington and everybody else was working jobs down here. There were times when Teppei would fly down and we would work on the songs togetherâ€¦hash them out a little. Even though it was collaborative, everybody was working as individuals. Itâ€™s different and I think you can hear it on the record. (Pauses) I donâ€™t want this to come out negative, but I feel the songs are crafted in a way that is more cerebral. Compared to what weâ€™ve done in the past, the energy might feel more visceral and unexpected. The process was more lengthy, but we also wrote in a more compact period of time. I think the songs are really well-crafted, but theyâ€™re lacking some of the energy I missed. Itâ€™s just a different phase in the writing process. Also, Teppei just moved back so weâ€™re all in the same place and we can practise together and weâ€™re already starting to write stuff for the new record so I think the next record will be different because of it.
So is there a lot of pressure on this album because of the hiatus?
Yeah, I think so. I think we felt it amongst each other. I think everyone had different opinions of what the record should be. Like, coming back, I kind of wanted to smash peopleâ€™s faces with this record but that wasnâ€™t what everyone was coming up with, idea-wise.
Just to clarify, you wanted to smash peopleâ€™s faces with the music, right?
(Laughs) With the songsâ€¦yes. Yes. I didnâ€™t necessarily want it to be a hardcore record, but it would have been cool to come back with that energy, you know? I think everything that everyone had been writing over the breakâ€¦a lot of the songs were more somber and we brought them up a level for the album. Like the single, â€œBlack Honey,â€ the original riff was something Teppei wrote and was written with an acoustic guitar. Like, I imagined him sitting on a rocking chair on his porch or something. (Laughs) So you take that idea and youâ€™re like, â€œOk, what can we do with this?â€ You take this idea and make it into this big rock song â€“ it does what it does. I think we did a good job with what we had.
Iâ€™ve been listening to your first single, â€œBlood On the Sand,â€ quite a bit lately. It really sounds like you have a new-found, raw energy there.
Yeah, I think so. I feel that with this record, thereâ€™s a lot of grungy energy, not to pigeonhole it. Itâ€™s definitely coming from a fuzzy, big-chord, distortion wall of sound that we were doing. On Beggars, I felt like it was more separated and dynamic in a different way â€“ there wasnâ€™t so much weight to it.
This is kind of a geeky question, but have you guys made amends with the song â€œDeadbolt?â€
I donâ€™t think we have a negative opinion of the song itself. I mean, I still like playing itâ€¦it just became this song that people would yell out in the middle of a mellower song we were playing. (Laughs) It might be a bridge in the song that gets quiet and itâ€™s pretty intense and delicate and then you hear somebody yell, â€œDeadbolt!â€ (Laughs) So you build a resentment, but itâ€™s not the song. No, we still like that song, but it just ended up becoming a character of itself.
Thatâ€™s one of your faster songs, but your sound has evolved into something much more than punk and hardcore. Because of that, is it a bit weird youâ€™re speaking to Punknews right now?
Noâ€¦because I feel like what always did was the most punk thing.
When we started, we took punk music and added hardcore sounds and then we used like, Iron Maiden riffs â€“ we tried to do something different. And then people started really getting into this melodic hardcore thing and we were like, â€œAll these people are doing it, what can we do different? Letâ€™s add rogue piano and make something pretty and then make that pretty thing into a big, ugly dark sound so the song builds into this epic thing out of this pretty thing.â€ So it felt punk to go against grain, you know? And when people started pushing the big screamo thing, we were like, â€œScrew that, donâ€™t put us in a box like that.â€ I felt like we were always going against the grain and doing the more punk thing than maybe the more traditional punk bands at the time who were super popular and overdone.
Do you still feel like youâ€™re going against the grain?
I feel like this record is not going against the grain as much as I would have liked. But thatâ€™s something I fought for and I didnâ€™t have as much of a voice as I would have like to have had. I think a lot of this record was influenced by what Dustin (Kensrue, lead singer) was doing and his solo work and elsewhere. (Pauses) Thereâ€™s always a push and pull and weâ€™re always going back and forth. I think that also with the way that the songs were crafted over the internet, was a lot harder to do and to work out. It was harder to question things. I donâ€™t want to say that Iâ€™m not into the record, but Iâ€™m going be putting up more of a fight for ideas in the future. (Laughs) Having said that, I think the songs are really well-crafted and itâ€™ll be a good dynamic shift for people to hear. The songs are easier to listen to, more accessible, and I think itâ€™ll be dynamically awesome for them to want the next record more.
What was the moment, the catalyst, when you realized you wanted to play Thrice songs again?
For me, I never felt like we were ready to stop or we should have stopped â€“ Dustin just ended up getting a really good job offer. We were basically in a really weird spot where each person in the band had just lost a parent. Teppeiâ€™s mom passed away before we started writing Major/Minor, me and Rileyâ€™s dad (drummer) passed away in the middle of the process of writing Major/Minor, and Dustinâ€™s dad was also sick and passed away after we toured for Major/Minor. If you wanted to read into to it, there were almost signs to do something else. And plus, both Teppei and Dustin have three kids so theyâ€™re pretty busy. I donâ€™t think Dustin wanted to stop but he felt it was the right thing to do. It was hard but we realized this is fun. This is the best job I could ever have and I love all these guys. Weâ€™re pretty lucky.
Is it still kind of a trip playing with your older brother after all these years?
Itâ€™s the best thing ever. Heâ€™s super supportive and he understands me maybe better than the rest of the guys. (Laughs) I feel like the whole band is family, their wives and kids are family, but thereâ€™s something about having my blood playing with me thatâ€™s super comforting. And especially since weâ€™re both the rhythm section, itâ€™s awesome. I would say that almost every night weâ€™re playing live and weâ€™re syncing up, I look at him and am like, â€œDude, look at this. How awesome is this?â€ I would do it even if we were just playing in a coffee shop, you know? Itâ€™s amazingâ€¦I love it.
Which Thrice album do you think has fared the best over the years?
(Pauses) That changes a lot. I feel like Vheissu was really important for us â€“ it was a big shift. Going back to your question about feeling weird about being interviewed by Punknews, I feel like that album was the most punk thing we ever did. It was a major-label release, we had done Artist in the Ambulance, which like the new record was written with expectations and was written in a short time period. We started off like, we didnâ€™t want to change too much and having people not knowing who we were when they heard us. But when we did Vheissu, it was like holding back and then opening the floodgates. At the time we were getting pigeonholed into the whole screamo thing and we were like, â€œFuck you. We donâ€™t sound like that band. We sound like Thrice.â€ (Laughs) That album felt really good but people really didnâ€™t like that record at that time. (Laughs) That was really apparent in our record sales and is why things didnâ€™t last with Island (Records), the major we were on. But it felt so right. Screw record sales, screw expectations and now, people love it.