Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Thermals Interview

Most punk band members don't usually smile, but then most bands aren't The Thermals. I got a chance to talk to both Hutch Harris and Kathy Foster, two of the niceist people in the world. If you ever get the chance, go see them because they put on one hell of a show(as I have already posted about)
David Glickman: What prompted the move from Sub Pop to Kill Rock Stars?

Hutch Harris: We just wanted a different kind of contract. Sub Pop had offered us a second contract that was, just a lot like, our first and we just wanted a more indie label style of contract. So we talked to a lot of labels that offered that like Merge, Saddlecreek, and Kill Rock Stars. Kill Rock Stars the timing just worked out perfectly. They had the best deal by far, best contract, and they had just moved to Portland, so it all fell into place really quickly. It wasn’t quickly, but it was... once it kind of clicked that they were the right label we just moved on that.

DG: How would you describe the music on your new album, Now We Can See?

Kathy Foster: Um, I think it’s bigger and wider than our last record.

DG: Poppier?

HH: I think its poppier.

KF: Yeah, I think it’s kinda more straight forward rock n’ roll, a little less punk...

DG: Is it true that’s written from the perspective of a corpus?

(Both Laugh) KF: Not a corpus so much, but a person died and are looking back on their life and reflecting on humanity. So not as morbid as a corpus, but more like a sprit.

HH: But A lot of it is kind of scary cause it’s written, suppose to be (written) at the point of death. There are a couple of songs that are simply "Wow, you’re dying" , which is terrifying thought for a lot of us I think.

DG: Is this the person who died at the end of "The Blood, The Body, and The Machine"?

HH: Yeah it could be, I try not to link them to much because if people haven’t heard of us and want to get into the new record, I don’t want them to feel like they have to go back and listen to prequl or whatever you know. But yeah, for people who loved the "The Body, The Blood" its definitely a continuation.

DG: How true are the stories behind the recording? Five bong hits a day and you (Hutch) almost lost your finger?

(Smiles) HH: Was that in Spin?

DG: Yeah.

HH: Yeah, plenty of bong hits. I sliced this finger; I had nine stitches in one finger. I couldn’t play guitar for three weeks, which was actually not to shabby. And then on election night, when Obama won, I was inspired and stated playing guitar again. It felt very weird.

DG: You always, progressively, your albums get a little more poppier, but that slightly gets balanced out by you constantly getting slightly more pissed off at the world.

(Both laugh)HH: Totally

DG: So with the times looking nicer, at least from your prospective, are going to completely circum to popiness?

HH: (Completely sarcastic and humorously ): Yeahhhh, we’ll just fall into a decadent lifestyle of sex and drugs and general boredom. (Both laugh)

DG: And more bong hits.

HH. Yeah!

DG: You write about big subjects like religion, death, government suppression. What drives you to write about these big subjects instead of, like smaller bands would not even consider writing about this or wouldn’t even place politics anything of the other stuff at all in their music.

HH: We just trying keep it interesting, really. There are a million songs about girls and boys and boring stuff. We’re just trying to make it interesting really. For me I just want the lyrics to be intelligent, and it’s not making a statement, but just saying something you know.

DG: Now you did some acoustic numbers for the Take Away Blog. I was wondering how this come about because, no offense to you, but The Thermals are not the first band I picture going acoustic.

KF: Well, Hutch and I played music together for a long time, about twelve years. We actually started out more poppy and acoustic. So that was really comfortable for us and we played a ton of shows before we were The Thermals as like, stripped down just guitar, just drums and guitar. So since we didn’t have a drummer last year, and we were just writing songs for the new record, and we still wanted to play some shows so we, so we just did some like stripped down versions of some songs. We played some songs over the summer of 2008, just guitar and snare.

DG: Right, for the charity shows.

KF: Yeah, so they wanted to do the take away thing so we just decided to do it that way.

DG: Is it ever hard recording as The Thermals because there’s the constant changing of all your drummers and your (Kathy) in another band, the All Girl Summer Fun Band. Is the recording ever challenging?

KF: Um, I mean, it’s challenging. You it would be nice to record as a full band, but a the same time Hutch and I are really comfortable playing together and I love playing drums so I like having that opportunity. We work very well together, it’s really easy, it’s like really easy to
record at the same time because there’s just two people making the decisions rather than three or four. It’s pretty comfortable for us, but at the same it would be nice to play the songs live, play all the parts at the same time. We can do both.

DG: Your (Hutch) thoughts?

HH: All we would really need is for Kathy to grow two more arms and then play drums and bass at the same time(Laughs). We’ve looked at the past two records more as projects rather than a band making a record so, considering Kathy and me grew up just always making records or like 4-tracks and 8-tracks cassette machines like we just do that in larger, it’s actually a lot of fun, and, I think it’s more interesting to us than a band that goes and plays songs.

DG: Last question; how come you never (Kathy) sing?

(Laughs) KF: I’m starting to sing now. The bands Hutch and I were in previously, we would sing a lot together, but when Hutch started writing The Thermal songs I just really loved his lyrics and his vocals and I didn’t ever feel the need to add anything. I just liked how it was. But now were just writing different songs and writing more parts we can sing together so I’ll be sing more and more.

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