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Thrice – Artists in the Tour Van

Dustin Kensrue – vocals/guitar.
Teppei Teranishi – lead guitar
Eddie Breckenridge – bass
Riley Breckenridge – drums

Talk to enough bands on the cutting edge of mainstream success, and you’ll begin to sense a pattern. Not only do most acts reflect a similar DIY perspective, but their sense of “scene community” is almost overwhelming. This is especially true in the punk and hardcore genres. Aside from the occasional localized politics, these groups stick together, promoting each other in the same way many professional athletes promote themselves. And given the amount of tireless work and dedication each puts forth, these individuals are anything but lost souls mired in despair and apathy.

Those familiar with the SoCal hardcore quartet Thrice are no doubt acutely aware of the band’s typical beginnings: high school classmates concoct the grand scheme of forming a band; one member offers to learn to play the bass, because everyone else is already playing the guitar or singing; another member offers to dust off their old instrument just to jam and have a little fun to pass the time; one keg party leads to a gig at the community center, and before you know it, the group has crossed the threshold of no return, in which possessions are sold, vans are purchased and the open road starts calling.

What’s beautiful about this model is it ain’t broke. And although it might not be the fastest road to fame and fortune, it builds the type of character that no “making the band” model could hope to capture.

Thrice has existed primarily on strong work ethic, but they are doing something that very few, if any bands are doing – they’re already using their influence for philanthropic means. While their fundraising work has already been well documented, it’s worth mentioning for the simple reason that you rarely come across a group with this level of commitment.

For some time now, Thrice has conducted numerous activities to benefit the Syrentha J. Savio Endowment, an initiative designed to provide free cancer screening to those who cannot afford the expense. Through album sales and shows, Thrice has helped produce funds for this effort. They’ve even organized teams for walk/run events, which have been successful primarily because of Thrice’s ability to get its fans to participate.

Such selflessness is rivaled only by Thrice’s pursuit of its musical endeavors. Its refreshing take on modern hardcore blends the tried-and-true grind and guts with melodic hooks and harmony. Guitar wise, the group reinvents British Steel and the down-and-dirty heavy metal of the 80s, producing a sound that’s progressive, familiar and unique enough to merit attention.

In advance of Thrice’s show with Thursday, Coheed and Cambria at the Colorado Springs City Auditorium on Friday, Oct. 24, drummer Riley Breckenridge spoke with Kaffeine Buzz about the band’s latest album, Artist in the Ambulance on Island Records, and tour.

Kaffeine Buzz: As a band that has been experiencing a nice groundswell of visibility with the latest album The Artist In The Ambulance, how aware are you of the increasing popularity?

Riley Breckenridge: Well, Island has definitely done a good job of getting our name out there, and that’s been really cool. But it’s been hard to get a gauge on how much press there is because we’ve been on the road since February. And when you’re on the road, you don’t watch any TV or read any magazines.

KB: But you must at least be peripherally aware of it.

RB: Yeah, I hear about it, but I don’t see it. So it’s like it’s not real.

KB: Now, looking back at when you were making the latest album, you obviously put in a lot of hard work and kept a hectic pace. Did you get a sense at that time that this was a pivotal moment for the band?

RB: Yeah, I think so. When we signed with Island, there was a little bit of pressure because you know that they’re going to do their best to make you visible, and you know you’re going to have more opportunities than you would if you stayed on an indie label. You’re going to get some radio play and you’re going to get some press in bigger magazines, and you’re going to have the opportunity to make music videos. So I’d say there was a little pressure, but it really didn’t change anything about making the record. Is was more like “I hope this is good enough,” just because everybody that’s associated with us has invested so much time and energy and has made so many sacrifices to make sure that we have an opportunity to be successful as a band. The pressure I feel is that I want to make those people feel like all the time and effort they put into this is worthwhile.

KB: Given the initial success of the album, you would have to feel as though you have delivered on that, have you not?

RB: Yeah, we’ve been really busy since we recorded in February and haven’t been home all that much this year. So we’ve been out on the road doing our best to put on good shows and play well and stay healthy. So I guess we’re delivering from that aspect.

KB: You guys have said that some of your previous albums were good at delivering memorable parts, whereas you focused more on delivering memorable songs with the new one. Given what you’ve learned to date, what do you think you’ll look to accomplish the next time around?

RB: We’re going to try to mix the two. We definitely succeeded this last time around in writing more memorable songs than memorable parts, but there’s a bit of that weird, frenetic pace from “The Illusion of Safety” that’s missing on “The Artist in the Ambulance.” And I’d like to find a way for us to mix the two. Like, have it be a bit scatterbrained, but not so much so that every song is like 30 riffs mish-mashed together and nothing makes sense. I know we want to work on making the recording have a bit more energy, so we’ve been talking about recording live in the studio instead of having everybody do their parts one at a time. Mars Volta and At The Drive In used to do it just to capture that live energy. That’s something that every band is trying to capture, but no one can really pull it off. And we’ll definitely experiment with some different things. Teppei just got keyboard and I started experimenting with programming drum loops and samples. We’ve never been a band that says, “Oh, we can’t do that, because we’re a hardcore band.” We’ll try everything and anything and see what works.

If you want to check out the video photos of their single from Artist In The Ambulance, “Stare At The Sun” or listen to tracks from the album, go to

Thrice and Thursday are playing an in store at Independent Records in Colorado Springs on Friday, October 24 at 5pm. Independent is located at 123 East Bijou.

Click here to win tickets to Thrice, Thursday, Coheed, and Cambria Friday, October 24 at the Colorado Springs Auditorium, courtesy of Kaffeine Buzz, 32 Bleu, and Soda Jerk Presents.


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