Is Andrew a permanent member?
Yes. He is equal with the rest of us! He was a friend before, and a drummer in a bunch of bands that we were friends with and, when his house burned down, he moved in with me, and I realized, ‘Holy shit, this is our dude.’ We were looking to add keyboards, but at the time, we didn’t know how to work it in. When he started talking about playing keyboards and from knowing that he was like us, we knew he would fit in the band. We knew he had the right personality, which is more important. Because we already have five dudes and we fit perfectly and found a groove as a band as a family. You can’t just introduce someone who won’t fit.
The last album had a distinct New Jersey influence. It was like an indie version of Bruce Springsteen, and a lot of the songs were about living in the metro NYC area.
Lyrically, where do you go on A City…?
The record is turned inward. The last record was very Springsteen in the way it was very social, being in a place and a time, and very specific about being in a time. I don’t think it’s dated, because it’s directly about a date, like history books are. The new record is way more interior, and the ‘city’ in the title is based on the idea that people build cities, and roadways through cities, in the same ways that their bodies are modeled, with arteries and veins. A lot of the city itself is internal space. To me, cities are closed things. You’re either inside of it or outside of it, so it was powerful idea to divide the city and make it light and dark, good and bad. Whether it’s in your body, soul or heart or relationships, it’s like a city. You have your own language and commerce even in a relationship. It’s about interior space.
You were living in NYC for a while, yes?
Yes. I made a deal with my wife. If she moved to America from Australia, I would move to New York with her.
But you’re still a Jersey boy at heart!
We’re Jersey no matter what. I always find myself visiting my parents on the weekend. Our practice space is in Hoboken and I’m on tour a lot, away from New Jersey, so you can take the boy out of Jersey but you can’t take the Jersey out of the boy.
You’re always mentioning being from New Jersey onstage and in a positive way… why do you have such pride for New Jersey?
It has to do with a certain tradition that underground bands—true underground bands—like us. You are in your city and you build your own scene and become a part of this community, and that is so important to building bands, music, and friendships. That is what punk rock and hardcore are about. There is a Boston scene, a Philly scene and the New Jersey scene. So many geographical areas have their own thing and I don’t ever want to lose that. It’s not about Band X being on major label Y and that’s the new culture. No way. You have to be in your city and decide what’s important to you.
We’re from a small area and it’s not glamorous. It’s not NYC and it’s not L.A. It’s a real place. Don’t buy culture. I hate consumer culture. It’s not hipster to be from New Jersey. We’re from New Jersey and we’re not cool and I love that. It’s like when U2 used to say, in the War era, Bono would say, ‘We’re not cool. We want to be hot,’ as in ‘on fire.’ They were passionate, not cool. And that’s how Thursday is. We’re vital and alive and not cool and not detached, and I want people who need music to come find us.
New Jersey is in the shadow of NYC. People fly into Newark Airport and see the industrial waste and refineries that dot the Turnkpike and they think that’s New Jersey, when that’s just a finite, unflattering vision of what the state really is.
Exactly. So much of our lyrics have post-industrial, apocalyptic energy and people think they realize where that comes from when they fly into Newark Airport. They think, ‘So that’s what they’re talking about.’ They don’t realize the meadows, the fields, all the great things in New Jersey.
Lots of people put expectations on Thursday with War All The Time, calling the band ‘the next big thing.’ Has that negatively affected you?
We never said we were going to be the next biggest thing. Who says that? It’s like, ‘Do you listen to our stuff? How are we going to be the next big thing?’ We don’t write pop songs! There are a few exceptions, but why would people expect that of us, when there are a thousand bands in our style writing pop songs and we’re not? It’s no sweat off my back. I’m not rich because of the band and I’m not flat broke, either, but I continue doing this every day still and that’s good enough for me. I don’t need much more recognition. As far as the record world’s view, selling almost 400,000 copies is crazy for an underground band. But record sales don’t mean anything to me. On another note, War All The Time was such a difficult record and stressful for us to make, so it reminds me of that time period. I wish it gave me more joy to listen to when I listen to it now.
You always give props to your fellow New Jersey bands, too.
That is a pleasure and a perk of this job: getting people to pay attention to amazing bands. I am proud when I see My Chem taking over the world. I used to pimp them out and I had to remind people of how amazing they are. And now they are killing and I feel proud to be a part of that. It’s so rad.
You know, back in 2001, I met Gerard for the first time at a Thursday show! I used to talk to him backstage at Thursday shows at Krome, before My Chem were huge. It just goes to show you how close the New Jersey scene is. Is there anything you want to say to Aquarian readers in New Jersey?
I’ve been reading The Aquarian since I was kid to find out about shows and some of the kids reading it now will be in a band that I’ll be reading about in the future! That’s rad.
A City By The Light Divided is set for release May 2 through Island Records. Thursday hit Irving Plaza in NYC on May 2 and will be appearing as part of the Bamboozle at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford May 6-7. For more info, check out thursday.net and thebamboozle.com
Photo Credit: Ken Schles