The bands you get into as a pissed-off teenager tend to stick with you, having been discovered during such critical years. Post-hardcore four-piece Thrice was one of those bands for me. So when the quartet announced a farewell tour, after which they will go on an indefinite hiatus after almost 14 years of music-making, I felt twinges of sadness. But I felt comforted in the fact that if any band has successfully explored and blasted through their musical limitations, it’s Thrice.
Thrice was formed in 1998 in a garage in Irvine, Calif., by high school friends Dustin Kensrue (vocals/guitar), Teppei Teranishi (guitar) and brothers Riley and Eddie Breckenridge (drums and bass, respectively). From the beginning, the four musicians had a clear vision of what their priorities as a band were going to be.
“The goal of this band has always been about the music, first, and about creating, and about staying true to our vision,” Riley says. “We’re not doing this to be famous, and we’re obviously not doing this to be rich. We just do this because we love music.”
The band rapidly gained a devoted following with their instrumental prowess, thought-provoking lyrics and bombastic live shows, but Thrice wasn’t destined to hide in the proven success of their riff-heavy, drum-heavy and just-plain-heavy hardcore sound. Since the band was unafraid to experiment with new musical styles, each new album was a never-before-heard side of Thrice. Albums like Vheissu (2005) and the vast, two-disc Alchemy Index Vols. 1 & II (2007 and 2008, respectively) challenged listeners to expand their sonic horizons.
“We’ve been lucky to have fans that are kind of evolving,” Riley says. “Their musical tastes are evolving as ours are. I’ve spoken to a lot of people after shows [who say], ‘I started out and was really into punk rock and hardcore and stuff like that … and then you guys kind of like carried me along on a journey to expand what I listen to.’ And as a musician, that’s one of the greatest compliments. Helping people understand how amazing and how massive the world of music is—that’s one of the reasons why we do this.”
But Thrice’s latest album, Major/Minor (2011), feels more like a return to roots than an excursion into new terrain, and if it indeed ends up being the last record the band creates, it’s an effective and satisfying close to a circle. Written and recorded in the midst of personal tragedy, the album deals with themes of family and mortality.
“Each member of the band has had a family member pass away over the last, like, two years [or] had family members dealing with cancer. … Stuff was just really unstable for a while,” Riley says.
And after years of touring almost nonstop, the band members have mutually decided to take an indefinite hiatus so Kensrue and Teranishi can be home with their young children. The sense that the break is the end of an era is shared by fans and the band alike.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t really disappointed,” Riley says. “Just because I really love doing this and it’s something that I’ve put my heart and soul into for almost 14 years.”
Even though it’s unfortunate that Thrice won’t be creating any new music, at least for the time being, their discography is a testament to a band that delved deeper and explored further than even they thought possible.
“I’m just so grateful to have had the opportunity to do this for as long as we have,” Riley says. “When we started the band, turning the band into a career was never even something that seemed remotely possible. And I’m so grateful to our fans for making that a possibility … if nobody gave a shit about the band, we’d still be in a garage in Irvine somewhere, and we wouldn’t be playing at all. And I appreciate them for sticking by us.”