As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
In the world of post-hardcore rockers Thursday, no sentiment could be more appropriate. For their new album, No Devolución, which was released in April by Epitaph Records, the band chose once again to work with producer David Fridmann, who was at the helm for 2006’s A City By the Light Divided and 2009’s Common Existence.
I recently spoke to Thursday guitarists Tom Keeley and Steve Pedulla about Fridmann, the songwriting process and what it’s like playing their new material on the road.
GUITAR WORLD: No Devolución is the third album you’ve done with David Fridmann, who produced your last two. Was there any discussion about using a different producer, or did you all pretty much know you wanted to stick with Dave?
STEVE: We all pretty much knew we wanted to stick with Dave. We’ve sort of established a really great working environment with him. He’s sort of the calm center to the storm that is the Thursday inter-band dynamic during writing and recording. He keeps everyone chilled out. It’s pretty essential for our band.
Was there anything the band and Dave attempted to do differently from previous records?
STEVE: Not really. The only thing we went for were some different sounds. We wanted to basically pick and choose where we got crazy dirty with the production, and on the other spots have it be a lot more clear, or for lack of a better word, a lot more hi-fi. Dave’s style is usually pretty opposite of that, but we wanted to try something different in that regard.
Were there any specific musical influences or bands you had been listening to during the recording process that influenced the sounds you wanted to achieve?
STEVE: It’s weird. Usually - at least for me - at that point I’m pretty focused, and I don’t listen to that much music. I’m just kind of 24/7, either taking a break, or if I’m not taking a break, which is rare, then I’m sitting down, going over the demo files and seeing what I can come up with. I think with this record, it wasn’t really the band discovering new influences. These are influences that have been there forever, sneaking in little by little. But this time it came more to the forefront, sort of My Bloody Valentine or Mogwai kind of things.
TOM: We’re not immune to wearing our influences on our sleeve. From the creative outset, I try to not really pay much attention to the influences and kind of let the music come out of whatever feelings I have, and not be convoluted by the idea of influences and what or who it might sound like.
Did you guys bring any ideas to the studio -- or were they born in the studio?
STEVE: There were only one or two sort of close-to-complete demos that didn’t get put through the Thursday machine where it gets all mixed up and spit out as something else. There were maybe two of those and a bunch of parts.
Were there any tracks you guys recorded that didn’t make it onto the album?
STEVE: No. It was one of those things where the record is pretty long. There was talk about maybe cutting one or two, and we thought, “No, we love all these songs -- let’s just put them all out.”
How has the response been to the new material you’ve been performing on tour?
STEVE: April was the first time we really started playing the new songs live. It seems to be going over really well. We’d come out and play four new songs right off the bat, and for us, we never used to do that. It was so much fun and felt really good, and the kids seemed really excited.
TOM: Really positive. It’s a different exchange nowadays. It’s a different energy. I think a lot of people have kind of grown up with us. They have a noticed a more seemingly cerebral experience happening at these shows. A lot of the more brooding songs on the new record are evoking that more internalized reaction.
What is the plan for the band for the rest of the year?
STEVE: We’re just going to be touring like crazy, mainly. That’s the plan at this point. We’re really proud of the record and we really enjoy playing it live. So we want to try and get it out there and hopefully get it out to some new kids and the old ones as well.