How did that come up? Do you have a trained literary background?
I just always liked reading and writing. I don’t remember why I decided to do the sonnets, but I really like the structure. It bothers me when I write lyrics because it’s so different than writing poetry. It’s a lot harder because you can’t just write what sounds well being said, you have to write what’s gonna sound well being sung. It’s frustrating because sometimes when you read it, it doesn’t read as well as it sings.
The cool thing about doing a sonnet is that it reads better than it sings even. I also really like the iambic pentameter—it can be this weird, plodding, heavy meter in the song. It’s not super strict, like if you’re talking, but it definitely still follows the accents.
That’s pretty intuitive that you incorporate literary devices into your music. I remember even on Vheissu you had a lot of alliteration in your lyrics…
Yeah, I like that a lot. Not many people notice it! It really actually does a lot within a song if you do it right, and it makes the lyrics stronger not having a heavy rhyme in it. I get way into that. I’m glad someone’s noticing, all the English Majors out there. (laughs)
Do you guys have a title for this forthcoming project, or are you naming each disc individually?
Both. I’m pretty sure everyone has agreed the title of the concept is The Alchemy Index, and we have not named the individual discs yet.
I got this book a couple years ago called Alchemy and Mysticism: The Hermetic Museum and it’s [got] all these drawings from The Alchemist, trying to explain what that all means. It’s very strange and confusing, but very interesting. They were obsessed with the elements and their interactions, so I thought that would be fitting.
I remember in studying alchemy that it’s much about pagan beliefs, the secular vs. the sacred, and I know that in your lyrics you focus on spirituality and sometimes touch on Christian themes. Where do Thrice stand on that?
For me, I’m not a fan of ‘labeled music,’ it’s just silly. If a band is of a political nature that maybe I don’t agree with, it’s stupid for me to label it as ‘Oh, this band is whatever, and I don’t listen to that kind of music,’ or just judge it before I even give it a chance. There’s things that are in common to all of us, even if I’m writing about something from my own experience or my own beliefs, in no way does that mean that somebody outside of those experiences or beliefs can’t get something out of it.
I think the cool thing about music and art is that we can share those things, make art and let it be who you are. What’s interesting about The Alchemist [is] there’s a lot of pagan stuff, there’s a ton of Judeo-Christian stuff. A lot of the imagery is stolen and taken different ways, but they were in some way trying to synthesize a coherent world of religion and science. I think they were out of their minds, but it’s very interesting.
Let’s talk about your solo record for a minute. Is it the first of many alt-country records to come?
I think it will change. I think there will be elements of what’s on Please Come Home that will stick around… I like how simple the record is, I like how the feel is very coherent, but on the next record it will be a little broader, a little more ambitious and it will also be a concept record. (Laughs) I can’t get away from concept records now. There’s something weird about writing a bunch of songs that don’t really go together to put on a record. You’re making this big piece of art, but it’s like mounting 12 paintings that you did and none of them directly touching each other. And you try to arrange those the best you can, but it doesn’t do them justice. It’s nice to have this idea in the beginning, so you paint 12 different paintings, but you paint them so that they can display the others well.
Do you see your solo path and Thrice’s path ever intersecting in terms of sound and style or will they always remain completely separate?
I think there will always be enough of a reason to do my solo stuff, it’s just a different vibe in general. I like that with my solo stuff I can at times be a little lighter, it doesn’t always have this heavy weight that Thrice does, so that’s a nice relief in that sense. But on [The Alchemy Index], I pulled one of my songs from my solo record and it’s going on the Earth disc.
Will Thrice be introducing any new songs in their set at The Bamboozle?
We’re gonna try to mix it up with the other records, and I think we’ll be playing one new song. On the other shows on the tour we will be playing maybe two or three, but there’s not as much set time on [The Bamboozle].
I know you’re big into charities, always donating proceeds from record sales, so what are some foundations Thrice are involved in?
We’re still trying to decide on what charity to benefit with the new record. We’ve been working with 826 Valencia on the last record, doing some stuff outside the albums—Invisible Children, and a thing called Blood:Water Mission, which is cool and very simple. The goal is trying to get people clean water in Africa and help for AIDS related things. It’s very community oriented, not trying to come in and bulldoze people’s lives or culture, just trying to give them the means to help themselves, so maybe we’ll be working with them in the future.
Thrice will be performing May 5 and May 6 at the Bamboozle Festival at the Meadowlands Sports Complex. For more information, visit thrice.net
Photo Credit: Myriam Santos-Kayda