Published May 02, 2011For a while, Thursday were painted as poster boys for emo, an unfitting pairing for a genre that largely turned into a laughable mall fashion and a band that evolved to subvert any expectations of the style.
Their last album, 2009's Common Existence, was their first for eminent punk label Epitaph after label hopping from Victory to Island; it was an accomplished culmination of the curveballs they had experimented with since 2001's breakout Full Collapse. Their latest, No Devolución, is the full realization of that, brimming with confidence and a renewed, authentic forcefulness. It's a remarkably mature album for a band that many assumed would be washed away with the residue of the early aughts' commercial punk scene.
"The record just feels really sincere to me in this good way," singer Geoff Rickly tells Exclaim! over the phone from his current home of Brooklyn. "It's not trying to be sincere, it's just doing what it is doing, you know?"
Sincerity isn't exactly new territory for Thursday -- their moody post-hardcore is laden with heavy themes, courtesy of Rickly's penchant for literary influences (he left school one semester short of a degree to teach English to tour with Thursday full time). But Rickly credits the impromptu new recording approach for No Devolución, once again recorded with producer Dave Fridmann (the Flaming Lips, Mogwai), for keeping the band from getting too into their heads about the process, focusing instead on impulse and immediate inspiration.
"It wasn't our choice to go and do it so quickly," Rickly explains about their on-the-spot approach. When it was time to record, the band had nothing written and tried to delay sessions, but Fridmann had another idea.
"Our producer told us that he was sick of us over-thinking everything and that we needed to get in the studio now and make the record now and that's the way we were going to do it. We thought he was crazy but when we got in we were like, 'ah, that was a good idea, Dave.'"
Even the lyrics, which form an overall theme of devotion, we done on the spot; Rickly would sit in the control room, listening to the band record and writing over what he was hearing. There was no poring over every detail, but Rickly says the focused approach didn't hinder the personal process -- it just added an honest urgency.
"They'd write in the morning and by dinner I'd be singing it, which is completely different for us," Rickly explains. "I hadn't fine-tuned the melodies or anything, so a lot of stuff you hear on the record, you can hear the very first time that I got it right and it felt good. I think there's kind of something to that.
Sometimes, accidents sound better than what you're going for."
At the beginning of this year, the band took to the road for a ten-year anniversary tour of Full Collapse. It was an exercise in nostalgia, one made all the more poignant by the fact that during the tour, the band were eagerly awaiting the release of No Devolución -- translated, the title means "no returns." Rickly says that even while revisiting the fairly recent past, says the band is looking squarely forward.
"Part of each person in the band kind of felt like, 'aw man, I just want to go play this new record, it's so good, it turned out so well, I just want to play it.' But I actually think that going back and playing that record was really good because it let us kind of like enjoy what we had made when we were younger."
"I hope that [No Devolución], because it's got such a good feeling to it -- longing, hope, sadness and joy -- it's pretty balanced, I think. [And] I'm hoping that it'll stay fresh with us."
No Devolución is out now on Epitaph Records. Thursday have several U.S. tour dates lined up in support of the release. You can see the band's entire schedule here. And to read Exclaim!'s newly published Questionnaire with Rickly, head here.