Thursday, the beloved post-hardcore band that came to a close around 2011, recently wrapped up a successful run of reunion shows, and there was no opening act better suited for the job than Touché Amoré. While the two bands are separated by some years and miles—Touché developed in Los Angeles almost a full decade into Thursday's tenure as a celebrated band out of New Jersey—there is a strong thread of commonality running through them. Touché frontman Jeremy Bolm started and maintained the first Thursday fan site on the internet and looked up to singer Geoff Rickly as a musical inspiration.
In 2009, the two bands toured together and, in hindsight, it was more significant than it seemed at the time. That year marked the release of Touché Amoré's breakout debut album, …To the Beat of a Dead Horse, which would build them their own devoted following, whereas Thursday would soon be dwindling down and going on hiatus. Considering that Touché Amoré is now one of the biggest names in their genre, the 2009 tour was something of a torch-passing event, with Rickly finding a rightful successor in Bolm.
Rickly and Bolm recently sat down before the first night of their two sold-out gigs at New York City's Irving Plaza to talk about their bands' intertwining histories and what their respective futures hold.
Noisey: Jeremy, you started the first Thursday fan site, but at this point your own band has been around for almost a decade. What's the dynamic between you and Geoff considering the way you met? Do you feel like peers? Geoff Rickly: I think we are peers by now, not to interject. [_Laughs_] I'm such a fan of Jeremy's band, and I think as you get older, you don't think about who's on what level, you just think about what you really like. I love his band, I go see them in Australia when I'm there and it has nothing to do with music, and it's the most memorable part of the trip because it's something that I really love. It started one way dynamically and it's shifted so many times over the years because now you guys have been a band for a while. How long has it been now?
Jeremy Bolm: It's been almost ten years, which is terrifying. It's funny, the Wikipedia page and internet both say 2007, which I wish I could change because I feel like you aren't a band until you've recorded or played your first show. Our first show was February, 2008, and the first tour we did with Thursday was in 2009, so we started playing shows with you guys pretty early on in our career.
Rickly: I remember the way you looked at stages on that tour like, "Really? The stage is that size?" You know what I mean? You guys were still used to rec halls.
Bolm: What's really crazy is that we have a documented list of every show we have ever played and we're at a point where at the end of this year we might be able to actually line things up where our 1,000th show is on the ten-year anniversary of our first show.
Rickly: We hit 1,000 really quick with Thursday because in 2003 we played over 300 shows, so that year really shot our average way up. We had seven days off at home that year. We had a day off every two weeks or something but were barely home.
Bolm: Were you guys jet-setting a lot during that period too or was it just America?
Rickly: A lot of it, believe it or not, was in America. We did a full tour after we had finished War All The Time but hadn't put it out yet and then we did that three-month long tour with Thrice and Coheed & Cambria where we had almost no days off and then we did the international stuff. But six months in the USA is insane because you're hitting every place three times. It's funny watching you guys because you tour so much too. There's a sort of awe and envy that you guys are still able to do it and also a relief that I'm not doing it. [_Laughs_]
Bolm: Honestly, since Stage Four came out, it's the most active we've ever been because the night my mom passed was scheduled as the last show we were going to be playing for a long time. Then we were home October, November, December. We did five shows in Australia and then that whole rest of the year pretty much did very minimal things and were just trying to write the record. [Guitarist] Nick [Steinhardt] bought a house, everyone moved in with their significant others and instantly became homebodies. We used to be like, "Tour is home, fuck being home, home sucks," and now we're like, "Yo, home is so sick." [_Laughs_]
Rickly: I remember, when we got to the homebody stage, we would resent going back on tour. We wouldn't hang out, it got really dark for us for a couple of years. We did a summer tour where I read all of Pynchon's books; you really have to not want to talk to people to read V. and Gravity's Rainbow.
One thing both of your bands have in common is that you refuse to make the same record twice. Is that something you're conscious of or that you take from each other?
Bolm: I would assume we would sort of say the same thing in the sense that I don't think that either one of our bands consciously do that. The way we've looked at it is you play the same songs night after night, so when you finally sit down and try to write a record, everyone has just pushed themselves to a further place. You want to make the songs for your next record more fun to play live so you challenge yourself further on some level.
Rickly: I know some people will think this is a pretentious answer but I don't, I think it's a simple answer: You decide whether you're more of an entertainer or somebody who is, for lack of a better word, an artist. By that I mean someone who just loves music and wants to make something that people will feel and you will feel. I don't mean that in a derogatory way; I think entertainment can be a super therapeutic, awesome thing, too, but when you're inherently like, "I care about this because it's essential to me, I need to make music, I need to make art, that's what I live for," that's something completely different. When you do that, then I think you're right, when you're onstage, you get better every night and more determined in the way you play and what you're trying to say. You get this laser focus and that's why sometimes I think that first curve can be a faster, more aggressive next record but I also think you can go the opposite way which is what we did. Tour was always the main influence on what we did next and I think it's really interesting that you said the same thing because I don't think I've always been conscious of it.
Bolm: Choosing the set list for this tour was hard because we're like, "We definitely want to play the new record because it's new, but if there's people who come out to this tour to see us play, then they're probably going to want to hear the songs they're connected to the most." Not to sound pretentious but I feel like Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me would be our Full Collapse because that's the record people first heard. But then we signed to Deathwish and all these things came together for us, so for these shows, we are basically playing stuff off Parting the Sea and Stage Four.
Rickly: But you have those landmark albums. It's funny because we only play one song off Common Existence on this tour. I love that record but it gets lost. To me, the last record was when we embraced the change and then Full Collapse is the other landmark. Then War All The Time is obviously an important record for us, too.
Bolm: So is No Devolución your favorite Thursday record?
Ricky: [Pauses_] I'm the worst. _Full Collapse is my favorite record. I love Full Collapse.
Boom: Wow, that's really cool to hear you say because I feel like most bands would be like, "Oh, that's the one that everyone likes."
Ricky: Now that they're all old, I don't really have any bias because I'm not pushing a record. I get why people love Full Collapse. It's a very innocent-sounding record, we hadn't figured what we were doing yet, and everything good on it was just us trying something whereas by War All The Time, we were tight. When we finished War All The Time, I thought it was exactly like Full Collapse and then people were like, "No way, you guys sound so angry," and I was like, "Maybe this is different."
When Thursday could have gone on tour with, say, My Chemical Romance, you decided to release a split with Envy. Geoff, I don't think you'd disagree the fact that the band was artistic to your own detriment at times.
Rickly: For sure. We were very aware of that. It was just tough because we knew we could do bigger things but I really believe that if you don't really want it, you can't do it. You can't fake it. I think sometimes success can be the worst thing that can happen to you and I think success for something that I'm not proud of. I'm too sensitive a person to handle that. That's just my personality. There are things more important than money and adoration make me nervous. There was a tour that we were on in Australia where a kid who grew up being in the front row at our shows and went on to become a big songwriter for Taylor Swift came up to me 15 minutes before we played and was like, "Are you gonna change into your stage clothes, Geoff?" I was like, "What?" And he was like, "Oh that's right, you don't give a shit what you look like." It's not that I don't care what I look like, I'm just a human being that plays music and that's all I want to be. I'm not trying to project an image or sell a car for somebody. How could you be that into Thursday and not get what we are trying to do?
Does that happen a lot?
Rickly: Not as much anymore. I feel like if you still care about Thursday, we've been out of vogue for so long that you got it and there's a reason why you really love it. That's kind of the most beautiful thing about this tour: everybody missed us and they're all coming out but the people who didn't really get us and just thought it was cool are gone. So it's a good-sized crowd but not too big, it's just kind of nice. It's the biggest personal tour we've ever done.
Bolm: I'm sad this tour is about to be over. I know it's scary to say you'll do anything further after this but I have a feeling you guys would.
Rickly: I'm definitely not against it. People are like, "Yeah you are! You're doing x, y and z," and it's like, "Nope. We're open to it but we're not planning on it."
Bolm: Some people in my band were like, "Do you think [Thursday] would do another record?" And I feel like you absolutely could because it's kind of similar to what we were talking about earlier: If you guys went in the studio you're not the band that's going to be like, "Let's write another Full Collapse" because that's not who you are. You'd be like, "Let's write another record that's going to just be the continuation from the last one."
Rickly: I actually don't think it would be. I've been talking with the guys about it and after all the years that I had off, the thing that I miss the most about our early stuff is simplicity. All of the songs off No Devolución are so complex and there are so many layers and so much going on all the time and I realized that the thing that I really love about our old stuff is hitting a good part and letting it ride. That's such a beautiful thing. There's a part of me that almost doesn't want to commit to a full-length ever again with Thursday because I just want it to be special again; I don't want it to be a career, I don't want to be in a cycle, all these things that have nothing to do with a record we're just so gun shy about because nobody wants to do that again. If we can ever figure out a way for it to be pure and heartfelt and not such a big deal then we would probably do it. This is the truth: We'll probably write a bunch, who knows if it will ever get released? If we love it, it will get released.
Bolm: There's something really lovely about that though where it's just getting in the room together with your friends with no pressure.
Rickly: That's the dream, right? [_Laughs_] If that happens, that would be great. And if it doesn't, I'd actually be okay with it because I'm so proud of what we accomplished. Next year will be our 20-year anniversary and I love that people still care. It's amazing.