Even before there was a Thursday, spindly frontman Geoff Rickly’s heart was set on signing with Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz’s seminal West Coast punk label, Epitaph. So when the emo innovators parted ways with Island Records two years ago, Rickly turned to the band’s manager, and uttered two words: “Dude? Epitaph?”
On February 17th, Epitaph will release Common Existence, Thursday’s fifth studio album. But before inking with Epitaph, Thursday enjoyed close to a year obligation-free with no label, publishing deal or management. Much of that time was spent inside a dank New Jersey warehouse, where Thursday wrote the 11 songs for Common Existence, helmed once again by producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Weezer).
“I’m not sure if it was because we didn’t have a label, and we were just writing for ourselves, but we’d get together, and shit would be turned up to 11 again, and we’d be fucking mashing chords together and changing time signatures, and doing all the fun stuff we’d done on [2001’s] Full Collapse,” Rickly says.
The record marks a return to the frantic pacing of Thursday’s earliest efforts, and is sprinkled with hints of Quicksand, one of the band’s chief influences; coincidentally, Quicksand’s Walter Schrieffels provides backing vocals on the track “Friends in the Armed Forces.” But is Common Existence Thursday’s “comeback” LP? Considering the band almost entered early retirement after the Island split, perhaps. Rickly says this is definitely the proudest he’s ever been of a Thursday record, but, given the current economic climate, he’s not sure a comeback’s in the cards.
“If we were in different economic times, I think it could very well be a comeback for us,” Rickly says. “I’m looking at budgets where our projected income, after three straight months of touring, is just $2,200 each. So, if I don’t spend any money on the Taste of Chaos Tour [which launches February 14th in Los Angeles], and just eat what’s in the venue and hang out, I’ll be able to send home rent and utilities to my girl.”
While they may have helped emo’s naissance, Thursday don’t consider themselves part of that scene anymore. “The scene has grown in a different direction,” Rickly says. “I don’t feel like we fit in anywhere now, because I don’t think a lot of bands are doing what we’re doing. I’m not embarrassed about what we do, but I don’t think we were ever the emo band that people said we were. And I feel like, now that it’s not a trend anymore, I’m on a holy quest to differentiate Thursday.
“Now’s the time when we can make some really great records that are completely different from everybody else, because nobody’s ripping us off anymore or even trying to do anything close to what we’re doing,” he adds. “I really admire the Deftones, who came out during the height of the nu metal craze. The Deftones are to nu metal what I hope Thursday becomes to emo — the Deftones were never really doing what everybody thought they were doing, and actually, they’re pretty interesting.”