An Interview With Thursday: Stay True

An Interview With Thursday: Stay True

—by , December 28, 2016

12-28-aq-cover-thursday-1-photo-by-ryan-bakerink

In this day and age, anything is possible—especially within the realm of our wonderful music community. Now more than ever, our nostalgic hearts tend to celebrate with pure joy and elation immediately after hearing the news of our favorite bands reuniting. Within the last few years, we’ve seen many reunions occur—from the inevitable acts, to our unlikely heroes. With the return of seminal bands over the years including the likes of At The Drive-In, Refused, Judge, The Movielife, Silent Majority or Piebald, there’s one reunion, however, that I’ve been eagerly waiting for that’s been long overdue: I am talking about Thursday.

With a career spanning over 10 years, Thursday captivated audiences with their seminal sophomore effort, Full Collapse, and were highly regarded as one of the most heartfelt and compassionate groups of their time. Following Full Collapse, the band released phenomenal efforts like War All The Time (2003) and A City By The Light Divided (2006) that both shined throughout, as an anathematic beacon of light for post-hardcore and emo. Since Thursday was put to rest after playing their final shows in 2011, it did not seem likely that the band was ever going to come back anytime soon.

Fast forward five years later, Thursday unveiled hints foreshadowing a possible reunion in the works, and within that moment, there was a pulse. Shortly after, the band shocked the world by announcing their return, which entailed a headlining appearance at this year’s Wrecking Ball Festival in Atlanta. Sharing the stage alongside acts like Dinosaur Jr. and Quicksand at Wrecking Ball, Thursday also made special appearances at this year’s Riot Fest, in addition to confirming their long-awaited homecoming shows at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville to close out the year.

It’s a proven testament that time eventually heals all wounds. With personal differences aside, Thursday was able to grace their fans with the opportunity to hear classic hits like “Understanding In A Car Crash,” “For The Workforce, Drowning,” and “Cross Out The Eyes” in a concert setting once again.

Shortly before Thursday’s anticipated return to the Starland Ballroom this holiday season, I had the honor and pleasure to finish out my year by speaking with frontman Geoff Rickly. Rickly and I engaged in a heartwarming conversation about Thursday’s upcoming return to the Garden State, and what it means to reconnect with the band in 2016.

On top of reuniting with Thursday once again, Rickly also opened up about sharing the stage with Turning Point at the annual This Is Hardcore Festival this past summer, and his forthcoming punk side project with Saves The Day’s Chris Conley called NARX.

At the end of the month, Thursday will be making their anticipated return at the Starland Ballroom, the band’s first New Jersey show since 2011. What are you looking forward to the most about headlining again on your home turf?

It’s a huge honor to be back in New Jersey playing. I think a lot of people probably don’t realize that when we started hanging out again, the first thing wanted to do back to was to play Starland. We were basically like, “We don’t know if we were going to do anything else, but we’re going to play a Starland show. We’re going to play for our hometown and we’re just going to play together because we’re finally spending time together again.”

You know, we’ve gotten back together to play, and our friendship has been rekindled, so that was all we wanted… just to play Starland. When people heard we might be playing Starland, all these other offers came in that were incredible, and were such great opportunities. But really, it all started with Starland.

For sure. Having your comeback shows take place at Starland definitely made the most sense, considering that you had your “final” Jersey show there back in 2011.

Yeah, absolutely. A lot of people don’t realize that the holiday shows were a tradition that we’ve had there every year since we were a band. We would play a series of holiday shows, and I think the most we’ve ever done—we’ve done four at Starland in one year. So, it’s really something that we build up to be one of the biggest events of the year for our fans. To be able to do it again is super fun—we’ve put a lot of work into this show. It’s going to be very special I think.

Did you ever think in your wildest dreams at the start of 2016 that Thursday was ever going to reunite?

Not at all, no. When people would say, “Can’t wait until guys you reunite *wink, wink, nudge, nudge,*” I would just think, “They’re going to be so disappointed because we don’t even talk.” There was a wedding that some of the band missed, and I just thought, “That was it. It’s done. There will probably never be a friendship again.” And that was a secret—we told everybody a “hiatus,” but to me, it was over. I would mourn it too, I was really sad—I would think about it, and get down. So yeah, I never thought it would happen.

Initially, how did the conversation come about the get the ball rolling again? Did the offer to play this year’s Wrecking Ball Festival sort of spark any enthusiasm to reunite as well?

It was a funny process because some of the band members moved away, and one of them moved all the way to New Zealand, you know? So, we just weren’t spending time together. There were two members of the band who weren’t speaking together because they had nothing to say to each other—they thought they were almost not enemies, but certainly not friends anymore.

I got a call that those two people had spent time together, they put the past behind them, and it wasn’t an issue anymore. I thought, “That’s impossible, I’d never thought it would happen.” Once that was said, another person said, “When are we all hanging out?” That was it, that was the moment that from there when somebody asked that question, I had a feeling we would be playing again. Because we all missed it, we all loved the band, we all considered it to be the most important thing that we’ve ever done. So, the opportunity to be able to play again meant that we would be able to play, I knew that. You know, if we didn’t hate each other, then we were going to play again.

As far as Wrecking Ball, we were sure that 2017 was going to be a “we were coming back.” So, we set that on our calendar—we said that our first show coming back was going to be at Starland, and then we will play a couple of shows somewhere else in the world. Wrecking Ball came to us, and we said no. They changed their offer. They came back to us again, and we said no. We must have said no about seven times. By the time we got to be able to play a secret show the night before as a benefit for a charity of our choosing, and so many other things like getting to headline a stage with Dinosaur Jr. right before us, we just said, “We can’t say no anymore (laughs). This is too good. This is amazing!”

I can imagine that must have been an incredible opportunity. On top of reuniting with Thursday this past summer, you’ve also had the opportunity to share the stage with Turning Point alongside Tim McMahon (Mouthpiece) and Rob Fish (108) at the annual This Is Hardcore Festival. What was it like to sing Turning Point songs with these guys, and to pay tribute to the late Skip Candelori?
It was really surreal man. I mean, when people think of Thursday, they think of an emo band, and they have their certain way to think of the band. To get to play Turning Point after having done it with Ink & Dagger years ago [at This Is Hardcore Fest, 2010], it’s like, I got to front two of the most legendary hardcore bands of my generation. That’s just really surreal because it’s, “Geoff from the emo band, Thursday”—here he is, getting to do this amazing honor in the hardcore scene. So that was just incredible.

I have to admit for Turning Point as a fan, the songs that I did were fun, and they were great, but seeing Tim McMahon go out there and play my favorite songs from Turning Point, that for me was like, “Holy shit! He was the perfect singer to do this.” Do you know what I mean? It was cool because I got to be a fan as well as singing for them.

This year also marks the 15-year anniversary of your seminal sophomore full-length, Full Collapse. Do you feel that this anniversary this record also makes the timing of your reunion just as special?

Yeah, I mean, that record is very important to us, and created such a lasting impact on underground music or whatever you want to call it. It had such a lasting impact with the way it sounds, what the lyrics were about, and I am so flattered that it still stands up today. It’s like, “Holy shit. I can’t believe we have a classic record (laughs).”

Let’s talk about the lineup for these homecoming shows. For both nights, you’re going to be sharing the stage with the likes of The Hotelier, Nothing, Primitive Weapons and Sick Feeling. What do you enjoy the most about these acts? What inspired you to reach out and invite them to join you for these special shows?

Anybody who has followed me since Thursday broke up knows that I was running a label [Collect Records] putting out a lot of young, new bands. I just always loved music so much, and helping young bands with how they’re going to make art, and get by in the world because it’s not easy. You know, everybody’s who’s done it knows that. But Nothing and The Hotelier had records that I started working with them. So in the end when Collect Records fell apart, The Hotelier ended up going back to their label [Tiny Engines], and Nothing ended up going back to their old label [Relapse Records]. Both those records [Tired Of Tomorrow and Goodness] are super hard, and I feel proud of.

So that was a really cool way for there to be some healing between all of us because we worked so hard for each other, and then weren’t able to put the records together. This was a really nice way to bring that all back all around, and play together, and have a big hug, and that’s it.

Wow! To be honest, I had no idea that you were going to put out the new Hotelier record through Collect Records originally.

Yeah, our designer at Collect did the artwork [for Goodness]. We produced the shoot that had those naked people in it. That was all art together. We all worked on that together.

Very cool. So, once you make your return to Starland, do you anticipate for Thursday to play any more shows? Or would you say that’s it for now?

We still don’t know. This is the extent of what we have booked right now, and we’ve all talked about, “Is there a future for Thursday? Is it more shows? Is it re-releasing old records? Is it making a new record?” You know, all of these things that the people have asked for, but we still don’t know which that we could concentrate on yet, do you know what I mean?

Those are the questions that we have too and right now, this is it. This is all we’re thinking about—are these two shows. We have so much planned out for them. We have themes planned out, we have different merch for the different nights, we have completely different setlists for the two nights where we’re hardly repeating any of the songs. They’re really cool—I want them to sum up everything that the band is about because we got back together, so let’s show people what we mean, and what we stand for.

Now, back in October I interviewed Saves The Day frontman Chris Conley and he told me you started a punk band with him and Danny Bowien called NARX. Would you care to share to a little details about this project?

Yeah, I’ve playing bass in that band. I bought myself a bass and I started learning it. Chris Conley himself is an amazing bass player (laughs) so trying to play the parts that he’s been writing for the songs is very, very challenging. But they’re really cool, and very fun. It’s the two of us and it’s Danny [Bowien] from Mission Chinese, who is the most talented chef, and the coolest guy… like, we really love Danny. So, just the three of us having a band together is kind of like hanging out with your best buds, and having some fun.

Chris is just so damn talented that he can’t help, but make great songs. We had a whole theme for it, a whole idea of what we were going to do, and it’s just been fun. It’s more like writing a script for a cartoon than it is what you’d usually think of as a band.

Awesome! I am definitely looking forward to hearing more from this project in the future. Reflecting back on 2016, a lot of people have experienced many ups and downs, either personally, socially or even from a cultural standpoint. What are you looking forward to the most about the New Year ahead, and for what 2017 has in store?

Let’s see… it’s tough because with the election, and things like that—it’s been a big surprise for people. I think regardless of which side you are on in an election, it’s been really hard to see how ugly things have gotten. You know, with the way we talk to each other in this country has gotten a lot meaner—we call each other more names, we respect each other less that we did before, and a year ago you would never say, “Half of the news is fake,” or, “You can’t trust the news anymore.” You would have never said that a year ago, no matter what side are you on. So the fact that’s an actual reality right now is crazy, you know? I can hardly believe it myself.

That’s a thing that made me realize that I don’t really want to be playing in United Nations right now because “the joke” about everything being fake and nothing being real—that joke is not as funny because it’s too real now. Things no longer have the same integrity that they even did a year ago.

I think in that respect more than ever, I am excited to be in Thursday because Thursday is about compassion—it’s about caring, it’s about sincerity, and the truth, and honesty. And I think right now more than ever, that’s what we need. We need that honesty, and that compassion, or sincerity. So, I am really excited about the idea that Thursday can be this positive, beautiful thing that talks to people, and that people need. Art is something that we need, again.

I’ve heard a lot of people say, “You can’t say that this is for the best because now we will have better art,” and I agree it’s not a trade off. You shouldn’t say, “Oh, it’s okay because art is going to be better.” That’s crazy. Nobody would trade human rights and civility for a good punk band, you know? That’s insane.

But you should take the good where it comes. The part that is good for us is to provide relief, and compassion, and honesty, and we should embrace that. I’d like to rise to the challenge sort-of-speak and provide that for people. That’s important for me—to step back into that, and to provide love and hope for people. That’s what I am most looking forward to.

 

Thursday will be making their long-awaited return to the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on Thursday, Dec. 29, and Friday, Dec. 30. For more information, go to thursday.net.


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