Thrice came back this year. Which if you’re a blubing Thrice fan-boy, or lady, like myself is among the best of the best news. I love that band. I love the odd born again Christian undertones of the latter-day material a lot less, but the tunes are bangin’ right? So I can just pretend they’re deep and personal esoteric metaphors instead.
But Thrice went onto hiatus in the first place because they felt creatively spent and full-time touring is exhausting, debilitating and expensive. Now they’re back and obviously getting offered lovely wads of cash for exclusive festival appearances, like Hevy, and short tours. Does that dilute their legacy of being a fiercely creative band with punk rock roots?
Probably. But I can’t say I care.
“Selling out” is dumb. Pursuing your own creative urges for your own reasons, no matter what those reasons are, and doing what you want to do isn’t selling out. To do what’s expected of you to appease people is selling out.
Besides, rock music is notoriously elitist and disloyal. You might as well do what you want, because they’ll hate you either way. Especially on YouTube. Which given everyone is forced to what things they don’t like, with no option not to do that, is understandable I guess…
The thing is, I think if Thrice want to come back, play songs they miss because they miss them, play shows that the fans love and make a bit of dolla than that’s cool. I’ll buy into that and I’ll have a great time. I hope they do to, but I’m not going to pretend it’s a musical rebirth or the sudden continuation of the pure inspirations that drive young people to become musicians. Because it isn’t that. It’s professional musicians playing music they love, to people who love it, for money.
The romanticism of that purity is kind of lost on me at this stage. If bands play well, enjoy it and the fans don’t feel ripped off then I’m fine with that. Thrice aren’t preaching a more punk rock than thou message, there’s no huge conflict there for me. That Black Flag line up that were to play Hevy some time back…well that’s different.
But Thrice are simply rejoicing and finding each other, and their music again, and that’s cool. It’s cool enough for me. The music industry turns artists into business people as well and that’s ok. It’s the nature of the beast. If you want the pure stuff then you need to hit the toilet venues in your local town.
Even then some of them will spend more time building vanity risers than they will building actual songs.
So when Thrice are coming back and playing magical tunes that we can all connect to who cares if it’s for money or for love? Who cares that Refused make more restrained music now they’re not raging against an industry that was crushing them when they were young men? Who cares if Alexisonfire are only going to do shows and stuff here and there if the shows are great and full-time touring doesn’t work for their personal lives? Or that Rage Against the Machine, whose message is still relevant, only play when they’re the fire to deliver the kind of shows that nobody stops talking about?
Well, lots of people do I guess. Which is good. Let’s hold artists to account because the sanctity of the “rock star” is dying and I hope it when it does it stays dead. Forever. I totally get how things changing can leave a bad taste in folk’s mouths.
But I’m really just that into the music then to a certain extent all I care about is the music and so long as the motivations behind aren’t fundamentally immoral I’m good. And the Thrice play with the intensity of their punk rock roots and the sophistication of their progressive evolution and it’s wonderful.
Don’t pretend it’s the same. I’m not sure it’s any better, but it’s not obviously worse. It’s just different. You can treat Thrice like you did around “Vheissu” or any of the other bands like you did at their creative peak, burning on pure passion, fan support and a love for making their own music.
But you can still yell your lungs horse to “The Artist in the Ambulance”, sway hypnotically to “Come All You Weary” and punch the ground to “Silhouette”. Because those songs still rule, Dustin Kensrue’s voice is still startlingly unique and affecting, Teppi still loves to tap marvelously intricate melodies, Riley still hits his drum like they betrayed him and Ed still seems like he couldn’t exist if he didn’t get to thrash every ounce of his energy out on his bass.
That’ll do me. I’m too old to worry too much about street credibility, I’ll settle for the integrity of doing it on your own terms, even if they’re different from the original terms. That and some sweet riffs.