Exactly one week from today, indie band Thank You, I’m Sorry (who are currently based between Minneapolis and Seattle) will be releasing their wonderful third album Growing In Strange Places. The band, now with the addition of their long-time collaborator Abe Anderson on guitar and synths, mixes together indie rock, emo, punk, and dream pop to create a sound that is introspective, honest, and energetic. Over the course of 13 tracks, they look at what it truly means to grow and they do not shy away from exploring the struggles that come with change or the emotional complexities that growth can bring. The band tells us that, much like the plants that adorn the cover of the album, when we give ourselves the space and time to develop, we will bloom into who we are truly meant to be. Growing In Strange Places will be out everywhere on September 29 via Count Your Lucky Stars and Thank You, I’m Sorry will be touring the US and Canada starting in October.
Punknews editor Em Moore caught up with lead vocalist and guitarist Colleen “Lleen” Dow, bassist Bee Schreiner, and drummer Sage Livergood over Zoom to talk about the new album, self-growth, tour snacks, and so much more. Read the interview below!
On your upcoming album Growing in Strange Places you explore all the emotions that come with growing up. How do you feel you’ve grown since you started working on the album?
Colleen: Oh man, so much! I feel like at least from a songwriting point of view, so much. I feel like I did a lot of the writing for that record when I was 21-22 and now I’m 24 and there’s so much clarity that comes with your prefrontal cortex developing. [laughs] I feel a lot more stable. I feel a lot better able to make good decisions in my life. I feel… older. [laughs]
Sage: It’s kind of crazy because we’ve been working on this album for a long time and it’s interesting being in this place with it now. Especially because when we wrote it, it was about growing up but it almost applies more to our lives now that we’re older. [laughs]
Bee: I think the thing that’s wild to me has only to do with me. I remember when we were recording the record, I had just gotten a kitten and now as it’s releasing, she’s a full-grown cat. I just think that’s a funny way to see how long we’ve been working on this record and waiting for it to be released.
The cover of this album features a collage of nature imagery. What drew you to the collage art style in particular?
Colleen: It’s a very eclectic record. I just really felt like a collage fits that a little bit because a collage is made up of eclecticness, like choosing different subjects in the art. We truly did not have that big of a hand in the art. Bee and I had a vision of what we wanted. I feel like aesthetic-wise we all lean into the earth tones, into nature imagery, and all of that so we knew that would be part of it. We had my friend Leah Wendzinski out of Chicago do it and she did such a great job, truly just made the vision come to life. I think on the center labels she did these little illustrations of vegetables and flower bulbs. It’s because she’s my friend and she knows me, but she saw right into my brain like, “This is what Colleen would want”. [laughs]
Bee: It’s kinda wild the progression of the concept we had from where it started to where it ended up. Obviously, I’m really happy with it and I’m really glad that we worked with Leah because it truly would not look as good as it did without her.
What was the original concept?
Bee: It started with flowers coming out of the old-style TV that’s on the cover. I think I had pitched that and then Lleen molded it into something else and from there it molded into the collage.
Colleen: The theme of the record is self-growth and I feel like the way a lot of my songs read is like diary entries which, to be fair, is how I feel like a lot of songs read. I just had this imagery of diary entries or a sketchbook, maybe a scrapbook. At first, we wanted to play into that and maybe have it handwritten on the back of the record where all of the tracks are listed. We were considering having me write it out on ruled paper. Ultimately, we didn’t go with that and it turned into something else. We kind of abandoned that idea but I feel like you can see little traces of it around the record.
How would you describe your songwriting process?
Colleen: It’s changed so much! Especially since we added Abe to the band who is, unfortunately, not here. I feel like the old process used to be like I would write a song, both lyrics and usually a pretty rudimentary guitar part, and I would bring it to my bandmates like, “Here’s a song, let’s write it!” Then we would all write on top of that and a song would be born. Sometimes we would be like, “What if we added a bridge here? What if we did this?” With this record, I feel like we really stepped out of that. I know Abe and I spent a lot of time fleshing out songs together. There were songs that Abe just fully was like, “Look at this thing I wrote!” and we were like, “Oh my god! That’s crazy!” [laughs]
Sage: I do think it’s evolved quite a bit. There was a lot more crafting and putting these ideas that we all had into a thing rather than playing on top of Colleen’s idea which was kinda like what we did on the first record. We had a lot more of an ability to actually be more involved. Specifically with Abe being part of the band and also recording it. We had that level of control. It was awesome.
Bee: There would be times we would sit together and do demos and then Abe would send one like, “Yeah, I just kinda threw this thing in there”. It worked really well and was really cool.
Colleen: Yeah, it was so much more collaborative and I love that.
What’s it like to have Abe doing the recording as well as being part of the band? How does that affect the dynamic?
Colleen: It’s the best! [laughs] It’s so nice to have the person who’s recording your music have a stake in it. I just feel like there’s so much that we’ve gotten to do and really sit with, especially on this record. We sat on this record for two years really getting everything the way that we wanted it. I don’t think that would’ve been possible without Abe. That being said, I wish we’d gotten it out sooner. I wanted to share it with everyone right away. It’s really cool to have someone that close in the process and also be able to trust someone and know they have the same vision as you. Abe is also a great bandmate. He's a great music producer, just great at what he does. It’s great having him be a part of the band.
Sage: Since he’s not here, we’re going to have to gas him up a bit.
Sage: But Abe is truly a talented musician in general, he can play pretty much every instrument and I think that lends to his ear in recording. For us, it’s awesome that our friend and our bandmate just also happens to be an amazing producer. [laughs] I love that part of our process. Maybe in the future, we would want to go into a studio session. One thing I will say to speak on Abe’s behalf, it is a lot of work and Abe does have to take that on. Sometimes I’m sure that can be hard on him but at the same time, I know Abe loves it.
Bee: We had been sitting on the record for a while and I think there was one time he was saying, “I just gotta stop because I keep going back and looking at the mixes and tweaking things. It could be better, it could be different”. At some point, he’s just gotta be like, “It’s perfect the way it is, I just gotta stop. It’s been too long that I’ve been working on this”. [laughs]
[Colleen’s cat appears and collective awwing starts]
Sage: I want a cat so bad. That’s just an aside. [laughs]
What’s your ideal cat?
Sage: My ideal cat? I don’t know, I like long-haired cats but all cats are great. I would take anything. One of my friends is staying over at my house right now and they have an orange kitty named Jolene and I really love orange cats. I don’t know why. They just have a certain energy and vibe to them. They’re the best little bundles of joy. They’re just so cute! I can’t get over them.
You highlighted some venue cats on your “Everything I did Today as the Front Person of an Indie Band on Tour” Instagram/TikTok video series earlier this year.
Colleen: Yeah! Venue pets are the best! It’s so comforting to run into animals when you’re on the road because a sweet cat is always going to bring you joy and a sweet dog is always going to bring you joy. Sometimes it gets so rough and you’re like, “Man, I really don’t want to be here” and then you can go sit outside and there’s a cat there so you get to hang out with a cat for a few minutes and it feels a little better.
Bee: Yeah, there’s nothing better than someone being like, “You can crash at my place” and getting there and finding out they have pets. Like, “I get to hang out with animals all night? Hell yeah!”
Sage: I forget where we stayed but it must’ve been in Texas, but - I forget their name - they had three dogs and they were all so sick and one was really energetic.
Colleen: It was Charlie in Denton, Texas.
Sage: That’s it exactly! Shoutout Charlie! [laughs]
More pets on tour!
Colleen: Yeah! We once stayed somewhere that had a house bunny and I remember it being in Indiana. We were staying with our friend Sam, from Mister Goblin, and they had a free-roam bunny that was jumping around the house. We were all sleeping on the floor. I always wake up before everyone else and I remember watching it hop over to Sage and start trying to eat Sage’s hair. I was too scared to wake Sage up. I don’t know if I ever told you about this. [laughs]
Sage: I remember waking up with that bunny by my face. [laughs] If it ate some of my hair, maybe I needed it cut. Maybe it was trying to help me out.
On “Mirror” you talk about being stuck inside your head and struggling to be yourself. What helps you get out of your head? Do you have something that never fails to help you feel like yourself?
Colleen: [laughs] I have such a mentally ill answer. I have a whole iPhone notes list of things to do when I’m feeling especially in my own head. It’s ultimately just a list of coping skills. Usually things like going on a walk. I’ve definitely found that forcing myself outside and forcing myself out of my apartment in a low-pressure way like, “Just go for a walk. Maybe let yourself get a tasty drink as a reward”, has helped me a lot. Trying to unplug from screens in general too. I have a computer job and I have to run so many social media channels. I’m so online and I hate it. I’ve been trying really hard to get into reading or making myself go listen to music and just stare at a wall. Just really actively getting away from my phone like, “Don’t you dare touch your phone”, has really helped me a lot. Cooking has helped too and really trying to focus on things that connect with my life. Things that have an impact on me and that can be made a more positive experience are things that I’ll try to redirect my energy into.
Bee: I’m a big fan of little treats.
Sage: Yeah, I agree with that sentiment. I always go on a walk and go nearby to the local corner store, grab a Coke, grab some Baygo juice, whatever I feel like. [laughs]
In the middle of the album, you have an instrumental track called “Interlude”. What inspired this?
Colleen: It’s such an eclectic record that it hit a point where we were like, “How do we make this flow?” [laughs] To some extent they’re not going to flow into each other and that’s part of that eclecticness, but there needed to be a little more of something. It’s something that we had never done before and we wanted to step outside our comfort zone and also find a way to bridge the songs together. I feel like the record in my head is the shape of a wave with it slowing down with “Self Improvement”, “Interlude”, and “Traincar”. Then after that, it picks back up and ends on this high note. It’s a cool up-and-down kind of thing.
Sage: I think the “Interlude” was also an Abe creation. It’s built out of bits and pieces from “Traincar” and repurposed in this song. The drumbeat is slowed and the vocals are manipulated. It very much feels like a wave coming in. I mean, I’m a little biased because it also goes into my favourite song on the album which is “Traincar”. It was sick! It was a cool moment. But that was all Abe.
On “As I Should Be” you talk about finding peace within yourself and finally accepting that you’re allowed to be happy. What has helped you to embrace happiness and welcome that into your life?
Colleen: That’s such a hard question. I feel like it is really a culmination of self-growth, like hitting a point after you’ve done a bunch of this work where you have a moment of, “Oh wait, I deserve this. I do deserve to be happy”. I think for me what has helped me find peace is finding stability and so much happiness in my long-term friendships and my long-term romantic relationship. Having these really concrete relationships where I’m always showing up for the people around me and they’re always showing up for me has allowed me to feel this level of self-acceptance like, “Right, that’s the way it can work, and the way it can be”.
Sage: Kind of going on with what Lleen was saying about surrounding yourself with good relationships, I think for me that’s been something I’ve really noticed. Since I’ve gotten toxic people out of my life and have surrounded myself with people I love and we all support each other, it’s given me the ability to change things about myself that maybe I wanted to improve on. But it was on my terms and not feeling like I should be “fixing myself”.
Bee: I think a lot of times I find myself looking at the big picture of things like how my life could be or how my life should be but accepting the small moments in life like, “I am happy in this moment” and really letting those resonate has had an impact. Having a really nice dinner with my partner or hanging out with friends, it’s a small part of my week or a small part of my day but letting it resonate with me and accepting that those moments are what makes me happy.
In “Autonomy Shop” there is a reference to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. What’s the story behind the reference?
Colleen: I guess the whole song encompasses a relationship that I had as a teen which I feel is kind of where a lot of that angsty, Scott Pilgrim-y level of energy comes from. The whole song is about being in this relationship and starting to have doubts and being like, “Hmmm, you don’t really treat me all that great. I feel like things are different because of this” and having this realization as you’re coming to and being like, “Wait! I can do better. I could simply leave and do better”. [laughs]
We added the reference pretty significantly after we had written the song. The song existed and we had sat on the song for a few months. I think I had probably re-watched Scott Pilgrim and in my head it was like the main character of the song is effectively one of Scott’s exes, probably like a Knives Chau, being like, “This is so dumb. You’re not worth it”. I liked the idea of the main character of the song having that moment of, “You earned the power of self-respect” themselves and being the one to leave this stupid, dumb relationship rather than having it be the one who’s causing the trouble in the relationship being like, "I win!”
You’ll be touring the US and Canada in October. What are you looking forward to the most about these shows? What song off the new record are you most looking forward to playing live?
Colleen: I have a really cheesy, sweet answer but I’m really looking forward to seeing my bandmates! I miss y’all. Also getting to play the songs and getting to have people know the songs is exciting. We’ve been touring them for the last two years and it’s just been like, “Hey guys! None of you have heard half our set. Let’s go!!” Now we’re going to actually play songs that are out and people have the opportunity to know them. Also, the way people have resonated with the songs when we’ve played them live without them knowing them has been insane! It’s something we never experienced with our other songs. Getting to play them after people have been able to sit with the record on their own time I feel like is going to feel really magical and kind of a full-circle moment.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the East Coast. I’m looking forward to eating a bagel. I’ve never been to Canada, but I’m looking forward to Canada. I don’t know that much about Canada. [laughs]
Sage: They’re nice, I guess. That’s what I’ve heard.
Colleen: Maple syrup.
Sage: I live in Minnesota which is essentially Canada Lite.
Bee: The Canada of the US.
Colleen: I would argue that Washington is similarly Canadian-ish.
Sage: That’s a good point.
Bee: All the north states, you know. I do agree with Lleen. I was eating a bagel the other day and I was like, “This is a really bad bagel, then I realized we were going to be on the East Coast and I was like, “I am so excited for those bagels!”
Colleen: No bagel is ever good after you’ve had bagels in New York. You’re like, “This just isn’t quite what I wanted”.
Sage: I will jump on what Colleen is saying, it will be nice to finally play those songs with a tour that is for the release of those songs. We haven’t had that experience yet. I love our first record, it is what it is, but we were really able to put time and thought into this one and Abe was a part of it for the whole thing rather than just recording it. I think for us, this is Thank You now and we haven’t been able to show everybody yet. I’m excited to tour and be able to do that.
In your opinion, what is the best gas station snack?
Bee: We have a snack tower that we bring every tour. We pack our own snacks so we don’t gas station snack too much, but that’s a good question.
Colleen: There’s an art to packing the snack tower because you want to have snacks for the road that everyone’s going to eat but you also want to allow the space for people to be like, “No. Today I want to buy something from the gas station”. So you can’t cover all your bases, you have to leave intentional holes to be filled in when you’re on the road. I’m a savory snack person, I don’t really lean in for the sweet treats. I feel like the things that hit the hardest when we’re on the road for me are things like salt and vinegar potato chips or the limon Lays. Really intense flavours. [laughs] When you’re on the road for so long the only joy you can get is from the sensory experience of eating snacks and getting really intensely flavoured snacks can really help your brain not get super bored. I’m going to be so hard on Silm Jims on this next tour. I started eating meat again and it’s just going to be Silm Jims all the time. [laughs]
Bee: You had a bite of one last tour and it’s been uphill for you. You were talking about how much you loved Slim Jims back in the day so I was like, “Do you want a little taste?”
Colleen: I did! Bee gave me one taste of a Silm Jim and it undid five years of being veggie.
Sage: I had McDonald’s with Abe a couple of tours ago and I was like, “Wow, this is awesome! I miss this”.
Colleen: This is going to be Thank You’s first tour where all of us eat meat. At first me, Bee, and Sage were all veggie. I was vegan, Sage was vegan, and Bee was vegetarian. Then on the last tour, one by one y’all stopped being veggie and I was the last one left. It was so hard to be like, “Where are we going to eat food tonight?” and everyone would be like, “I want this!” and I’d be like, “Guys…I still don’t eat meat”. But now, it’s going to be crazy! We can eat wherever we want to. We’re going to get food poisoning every night. [laughs] The food poisoning release tour.
Remember to get all-dressed chips in Canada.
Colleen: I love an all-dressed chip! It’s my favourite! I didn’t even think about that. I’m going to buy a million bags. That’s what I’m most excited about! Thank you for reminding me.
Bee: I think also in Canada you can get the legitimate Kinder Eggs with the toy in the middle. I think I’ll stock up on those.
Colleen: They do occasionally have all-dressed chips in the US but as an all-dressed chips lover, they’re really hard to find. It’ll be certain times of the year they drop them then they’ll go away for months. I’ve seen them the last five times I went to the grocery store, then I go again and they’re not there and I feel insane.
Buy pallets of the chips.
Bee: We’re going to go through customs and they’re going to be like, “Ummm, why is your van full of chips??”
Colleen: We’ll hide them all under a blanket like it’s contraband.
Thank You, I’m Sorry started in Chicago and now you’re based between Minneapolis and Seattle. What impact have these places had on the band?
Colleen: I started the band as a solo project in Chicago but I’d previously been living in Minneapolis which is how I had connections to everyone. Sage and I were good friends already. I got signed two months into starting my project because Keith from Count My Lucky Stars found my post on r/emo. [laughs] Then he messaged me on Facebook and was like, “Is this you?” and I was like, “Oh my god! It’s the guy from Empire! Empire!! Yeah, that’s me!” He was like, “Do you want to be signed to my label?” So we got signed and I remember talking to Sage about it and I was like, “I need bandmates! I have to be a full band now!” and Sage was like, “I’m in! Me please!” We went through so many band members and then Bee saw a post of mine on Twitter and messaged me. Bee and I knew of each other but didn’t know each other.
Bee: We met in Chicago at a show. Sage was like, “This is my friend, Lleen” and I was like, “Hello!” I saw your Tweet about needing a bassist and I texted you. I was like, “Mayhaps me??”
Colleen: Yeah! I always remember before I had met you, when I had been loosely involved in the scene before, I know I told you this but someone was like, “Be careful of Bee” and I was like, “Ok?”It was one of my exes. Then we broke up and I moved away. I knew Sage was friends with Bee and I trusted Sage’s judgment and you seemed fine so we hung out and I was like, “Bee is great! What beef did they have?” Then Bee joined. We spent a year trying to convince Abe to join the band. He was on the periphery of the band, he would play live with us sometimes as an extra guitarist and he was recording our first record. But it took a while for him to be like, “Ok, I officially want to be a member of Thank You” and then we all rejoiced. We were so happy.
Bee: We influenced Abe a lot. We got him to get an iPhone and drop Android for good.
Colleen: The day that we had the iMessage groupchat for Thank You was a big day.
Sage: It was a big day in our history.
How would you describe your local scenes?
Colleen: Seattle, is so hard because Thank You doesn’t exist in the Seattle scene. I’ve also only been here for a year so I’ll let y’all talk on Minneapolis.
Sage: Minneapolis rocks!
Bee: Minneapolis is great! I feel like there are shows going on all the time and it’s really rare that I go to a show and there’s no one there. I remember early in the scene people would tour through Minneapolis and then be like, “Minnesota’s great! Y’all are so supportive and so happy to be here! We don’t get this that often in other places”. It’s been true for the past eight years that I’ve been in the scene at least.
Sage: There’s a great community around house shows and venue shows too. There’s a lot of great musicians and artists here too like Keep for Cheap and Bugsy. It’s a great scene. I love it! That’s why I’m still here. [laughs]
Bee: I think the joke is everyone in Minnesota is so good at playing music because in the winter there’s nothing else better to do than sit in your house and learn an instrument or hone in on your skill.
What does the future hold for Thank You, I’m Sorry?
Colleen: So much, I hope! We’re not, but in my head, I feel like we’re just starting as a band. I feel like we finally became the band that we want to be and I feel like this year is the first year of that. We have a bit of touring on the books which I’m so happy and excited about. We’ve already started writing for our next record. [laughs] We have a lot of big stuff lined up and it feels really good.
|Oct 10||Underground Music Venue||Minneapolis, MN|
|Oct 12||Healer||Indianapolis, IN (w/Kerosene Heights)|
|Oct 13||Fauxchella||Bowling Green, OH|
|Oct 15||Mahall’s Apartment||Cleveland, OH|
|Oct 16||Mr. Roboto Project||Pittsburgh, PA (w/Kerosene Heights)|
|Oct 17||Mohawk Place||Buffalo, NY (w/Kerosene Heights)|
|Oct 19||Deep Cuts||Boston, MA (w/Kerosene Heights, Mint Green)|
|Oct 20||Mona Liza||Brooklyn, NY (w/Kerosene Heights, Mint Green)|
|Oct 21||Creep Records||Philadelphia, PA (w/Kerosene Heights, Mint Green)|
|Oct 22||Monarch Tavern||Toronto, ON|
|Oct 24||Outer Limits||Detroit, MI|
|Oct 25||Subterranean||Chicago, IL|