I remember watching MTV2 very late one night in my grandparent’s basement in Plainsboro, NJ (coincidentally just a few towns over from Thursday’s hometown of New Brunswick), when I first saw the video for the band’s soon-to-be semi-smash “Understanding (In a Car Crash)” on the Jim Shearer hosted program, Subterranean. That song and video were so raw and full of feeling that I became instantly hooked.
Thursday’s acclaimed second record, Full Collapse, was the album that inspired me to start singing and begin writing my own lyrics. And to be honest, without that LP’s subconscious prodding and pushing, I probably wouldn’t have dove into the sea of music journalism, either. What Geoff Rickly lacked in technical talent, he made up for it in droves when it came to his words — insightful anecdotes and clever phrases woven together to form a vocal and lyrical style that felt wholly unique at the time. It was like spoken word poetry, only cathartically sung and screamed over Steve Pedulla and Tom Keeley’s interlocking guitars, Tucker Rule’s chaotic drums, and Tim Payne’s dancing basslines.
Full Collapse is like a scrapbook to me. I remember smoking weed for the first time and driving around the suburbs listening to “Standing On the Edge Of Summer,” yelling the words along with my friends with the windows down. I remember whisper-screaming “Cross Out the Eyes” and wondering how Keeley made that noise come out of his mouth. I remember playing “Concealer” on my best friend’s drums while his mother wanted to kill us from the other side of his bedroom door.
Then came War All the Time, Thursday’s third studio album, and the record that I listened to the most out of all of their releases. It was cerebral, political, chaotic, and beautiful all at the same time. They could go from channeling the Smiths on “Asleep in the Chapel,” to talking about H-bomb explosions on “War All the Time,” to commenting on the death of Matthew Shepard, the University of Wyoming student who spurred a national conversation on tolerance, sex, and hate crimes when he was beaten and killed for his sexual orientation.
The band employed super producer Dave Fridmann on their next two records, A City By the Light Divided and Common Existence. The former birthed one of my favorite Thursday songs in “Autumn Leaves Revisted” and was met with critical acclaim, while Common Existence continued the wall of sound the band erected with pieces like “Last Call” and “Time’s Arrow,” which tackled the subjects of marriage and physical and emotional abuse.
By the time Thursday started work on their final record, No Devolución, a decade plus of writing, recording, and near-constant touring had started to take their toll. Still, their songwriting instincts remained sharp. The group entered the studio without any written material, but completed the album in a week — a nearly unprecedented clip for a group of their stature. No Devolución left fans with dynamic post-hardcore thrillers like “Fast to the End,” “Turnpike Divides,” and “No Answers,” and a wonder what would come next.
In 2011, the band entered into an indefinite hiatus. An official disbandment wouldn’t arrive until 2013 when Rickly declared the group dead in multiple interviews. It seemed like Thursday never had any intentions of playing shows together again.
But after seeing them tear through a blistering, greatest hits version of a set at last year’s Wrecking Ball ATL, it seemed like the group was back and a reunion was underway. The official announcement came earlier this year when the band revealed their plans and dates for a U.S tour.
Which brings us to this moment and the strange mix of anxiety and excitement that’s starting to take over me. My hands are trembling as I dial the number provided by Thursday’s manager. After the phone rings for what feel like a thousand times, a voice come on the other end…
“Hey, Paul! This is Nick from Immersive Atlanta…’
“Hey, this is Geoff. Paul went to grab some coffee…’
This is when I really start trembling and fumbling my words at an alarming rate. We exchange pleasantries and then I ask him, “Are you ready?” like my questions are so penetrating that he’s going to be blown away by them.
He laughs and then replies, “It’s been a while, but let’s do it.”
At the time of this interview, you will have played the first show on this tour, which is your first since 2011. What was the energy like in Boston?
It was an incredible show to start the tour with. Great crowd, fun to play again. It was truly a surreal experience to go back to Thursday after six years of being broken up. It was really cool [laughs].
I had the opportunity to see you at Wrecking Ball ATL last year. But as the Masquerade was heading to its closing, it seemed like Thursday was alive and well that weekend. You guys looked like you had a ton of fun together on stage. Was that the spark that you guys needed to get going again?
Yeah, that was the energy, for sure. Just seeing us all together on stage, smiling, laughing, and just having a good time — I think it was so healing for all of us, too, especially for the relationship for the band.
I’ve seen you guys play a million times, and I’ve never seen you laugh and smile that much on stage. It felt so genuine.
[Laughs] Exactly! I don’t know if I thought that “did it” for us… You know, I always knew Thursday would always be a part of my past, and it was cool that I got to do that and have that experience, but that isn’t where my life is right now, and getting the chance to go out and do it now was just surreal. It’s a real life-affirming thing for me.
Since Thursday parted ways, you’ve kept yourself busy: You’ve recorded two solo mixtapes and you also were the frontman for No Devotion, which came from the ashes of Lost Prophets. Both projects are vastly different, but through it all, it seemed like your passion to create never came into question. What was it like to take a step back from a familiar place to focus on something else?
For me, I spent all that time in Thursday, which was something that I was doing for so long, and I just really wanted to do different things. I really wanted to try working on projects that were nothing like Thursday. And both of those projects were really fun, but I found out that I was best at expressing the most sincere version of what I do in Thursday. So, going on this tour, seeing the guys again, it’s like coming back home.
You’re currently on tour with Touché Amoré and Wax Idols, both of which have releases on your label, Collect Records. What is the current state of Collect, and did you have a hand in bringing them on the road?
Currently, I’m still paying off a lot of bills to the state for, you know, disassembling a company so quickly. So there’s all kinds of paperwork and that type of stuff, and right now, I have no idea if I’ll ever be able to do anything with Collect ever again. BUT, with that being said, I definitely DID have a lot to do with bringing Touché and Wax Idols coming along. Luckily, we all have similar taste in bands. I mean, we have a lot of different interests too, but we can all agree that if something is good, it’s good.
And Touché Amoré is amazing. I got to meet Jeremy Bolm at Wrecking Ball after their set, and that was definitely one of my highlights.
They’re amazing guys. Jeremy was actually running a Thursday site — I don’t know if it was a fan site, but it was called ParisInFlames.net and he was 16-years-old or something, and that’s how I first met Jeremy. And we always kept in touch, whether through friends or whatever. And whenever he would send me stuff from his bands, I’d listen. And then he sent me some stuff from Touché, and I was like, “Holy shit! These guys are incredible.”
Do you have a favorite Atlanta memory? It could be a show you played, something weird that happened. Anything.
I DO! I love Atlanta, you know. I’ve played the Masquerade so many times. But one time, in particular, I remember we brought Cursive out on the road, right before The Ugly Organ came out, and it was the last night of the tour. And I remember putting ketchup and mustard all over [drummer Clint Schnase’s] cymbals, so when he hit them, uh, it was just flying everywhere! Needless to say it ended up being a pretty messy last night of tour [laughs].
What kind of setlist can we expect on Tuesday? And will there be any new material?
No, no. No new material right now. We’re just getting to know each other all over again, getting to know all our material again and just trying not to rush through it. But as far as the setlist, it’s going to be kind of the whole career-spanning set, but we’re going to narrow it down to stuff that you want to hear live. There are songs of ours that I LOVE and we’re not playing because they don’t come across the same in a live setting, so we thought, lets just keep it limited to stuff that are going to make people go, “Oh wow, I’m glad they played that.”
Thursday plays the Masquerade (Heaven) on Tuesday, April 4. They will be supported by Basement, Touché Amoré, and Wax Idols. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $29.50. All ages.