Tell Me About That Album: Major/Minor by Thrice

Jonathan Weiner
Try not to think of Thrice's current farewell tour as a goodbye. Think of it more like a victory lap. After almost 15 years together, the Southern California quartet has released the best record of their career, and one of the most solid rock records in recent memory, Major/Minor. The album showcases the band's multifaceted approach to post-hardcore, careening from super-heavy punk riffs to sensitive acoustic material, often within seconds. But the record's release was bittersweet. The band announced shortly thereafter that their current tour would be their last before going on an indefinite hiatus. We caught up with the band's bassist Eddie Breckenridge to talk about the album, their current farewell tour and that annoying pole on the El Corazon stage. The band plays the Showbox Sodo on June 9th.

The release of Major/Minor must be bittersweet for you. On the one hand, it's a daring, critically-acclaimed rock record, but it's also the last one before you take a break. Did you know when you were making it that you'd be taking some time off afterwards? [Singer-guitarist] Dustin [Kensrue] let us know in the beginning that he was considering it. At first it was like, "Oh my god, really? You're going to tell me this now?" But it ended up being something that I'm thankful for, that he let us know as early as possible. There were so many things going on also during the same time. [Drummer] Riley and mine's dad had been struggling with cancer and actually passed away in the middle of the writing process. Thinking about the idea of the band ending - it was definitely on our minds constantly, but there were more things going on that made the process much different than any record that we've done. In the end, we knew that getting in the studio was what our dad would want us to do and also it was a good release just to play music and let out all that energy.

As I understand it, the hiatus is fueled mostly by some members' desires to spend time with their young families. But I imagine that must be more frustrating for you as a band member who doesn't have kids. I think we all went through a lot of emotions about it, from being angry to being depressed or sad, but in the end, if one of the four of us isn't feeling that it's the right thing to do, than I don't think it's right to continue. The project as a whole would end up suffering. I understand fully how this puts stress on family, and obviously I want to help make that better, but it is really hard to let go of something that's pretty rare. I have a lot of friends who are really amazing musicians and make amazing music who don't get the chances that we've gotten.

Do the shows feel more impactful because the crowds know it might be awhile before they hear these songs live again? There's definitely a different energy at the shows and maybe people are more prone now to sing along or to come up after a show and say, "Thank you." And I'm the same. I tend to play shows and close my eyes a lot and now I'm looking at people a lot more and thanking them. It's been a really awesome experience. I was worried that the bittersweetness might be really depressing but it's actually been one of the most fun times I've had on tour. I think the last few shows are going to be pretty rough though.

Do you have a favorite song on the album? I really like "Yellow Belly," the opening track. But then there's also "Words in the Water," which is almost the opposite, in that it's pretty and kind of represents the other side of the record.

Can you tell me about the cover art? It's very abstract and there aren't any words on it. We went through a few cover ideas. Originally, we had an idea where all of us were taking pictures of random things in life, but with a slow shutter speed so they were kind of blurry and had light trails. They were these weird, washy, abstract kind of pictures. We felt like that kind of represented where our lives were at. We dealt with a lot of death and a lot of happy things - all these kids being born. And that ended up being what the title was about, dealing with this up and down in life. Sadly, the pictures were of a really poor quality for the most part, and when they were blown up to LP size, they ended up looking kind of crummy. What ended up happening is that we had been really interested in this one artist who was doing abstract stuff and we ended up combining similar feels, mixing pictures of the light trails and abstract pictures of color blocking. Not everybody was super excited about the final product, meaning not band members, but people from the label were like, "That doesn't seem very exciting." But we were into it and they understood that.

Have you played much in Seattle? We've played lots of shows there. What's the place with the big pole in the middle of the stage?

It's probably El Corazon that you're thinking of, but it was likely called Graceland or The Offramp when you were first coming here. I remember playing shows there on our first tour and accidentally running into that pole. But I like the vibe of the Northwest. It's a little bit slower paced, sleepier, but there's a lot of creative energy. There's a lot of cool bands that are doing stuff there too, obviously. We've had a chance to tour with some of them, like These Arms Are Snakes. And shows have been awesome there forever.

Is there one moment from the last 14 years together that really stands out as a major highlight? I think for me, the first U.S. tour that we did. We were on a tour with amazing bands. It was the Take Action / Plea for Peace tour and it was Cave In, Hot Water Music, Alkaline Trio, this band called the Selby Tigers and this guy Mike Park. All the sudden we were in New York playing and that realization of, "Wow, this is real." We were so happy to play music with these amazing people, learning about music, learning about these people's lives. I think a lot of what we've been able to do has been a really rare and amazing experience. Just as a cultural and social experience, it's amazing to be able to visit so many places. That alone has greatly changed my life perspective and how I see everything. I feel really fortunate to have had that opportunity.

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