For more than 15 years, former Eyeball Records labelmates Thursday and Frank Iero have been friends. Their shared history will come to life during a year-end mini-tour that will culminate on Dec. 30 at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville.
Thursday frontman Geoff Rickly and former My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero have been friends since the late 1990s, so it’s as much fun for them to be touring together right now as it is for their mutual audience. It was Rickly, My Chem’s first producer, who convinced Iero to join that late, great group in 2002.
Now recording and touring with his band, the Patience, who recently released the Steve Albini-produced EP, Keep the Coffins Coming, Iero will play three year-end shows with thereunited Thursday: Dec. 28 at The Paramount in Huntington, N.Y.; Dec. 29 at the Worcester Palladium, in Worcester, Mass.; and Dec. 30 at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville. All three shows also will feature Thursday’s friends, PUP.
Thursday also features founding members Tom Keeley on lead guitar, Tim Payne on bass and Tucker Rule on drums, plus longtime guitarist Steve Pedulla and keyboardist Andrew Everding,
Rekindled friendships have kept the band busy on the road since reuniting in 2016. Yet, despite 2018 tour dates in Australia, Hawaii and the U.K., no plans are in the works to record a follow-up to their great releases from 1999 to 2011 on Eyeball, Victory, Island and Epitaph Records.
The following chat with Rickly and Iero delves into the joint history, as well as where things are taking them today and tomorrow.
Q: Geoff, why did Thursday break up and why have they reunited?
Geoff Rickly: Mostly just interband personal stuff that we were able to resolve. We became friends again and that opened the door to playing again.
Q: Thursday paved the way for several bands that credit you as an influence. How much did that influence have a factor in reuniting?
Rickly: The fact that people still wanted to see us was so flattering, and that’s why we’ve played shows instead of just getting together and playing for each other.
Q: Have Thursday shared the stage or any other association with any of the bands you’ve influenced? If so, with whom have you enjoyed working with most and why?
Rickly: We try and give love and elevate the bands that we like and when they cite Thursday as an influence it makes it a no-brainer to work with them. Bands like Touché Amoré, Hotelier, Nothing and Wax Idols. Really cool.
Q: Frank, who is in the Patience, what instrument do they play and how do you know them?
Frank Iero: Alex Grippo, bass; Evan Nestor, guitar/vocals; and Matt Olsson, drums/vocals. Evan is my brother-in-law and such an incredibly gifted musician and artist. So he was at the top of my wish list when I knew I had to put a band together to tour with the Cellabration. Alex was a friend of Evan’s. They had been in a band together called Science a few years back, and Matt was recommended by Kevin Antreassian, who recorded Science at his studio, Backroom, in Rockaway.
Q: We were supposed to chat a year ago upon the release of Parachutes, but the Australian bus accident halted your tour. How is everybody doing in the wake of that accident and did any personnel changes within the band have to be made because of it?
Iero: Oh, small world. That bus fucked up a lot of things. Glad we could do this now, though. No one in the band changed because of the accident. I don’t think I would have done it again if the bus took one of us out completely. I also think that’s why I tried so hard to get us back on the road so soon after the accident. Looking back it was probably not the greatest of decisions, but I think it provided us a goal to work toward and kept our heads out of the darkness.
Q: Do any of the songs on Keep the Coffins Coming relate to the accident? If so, why and how?
Iero: No, Keep the Coffins Coming was recorded way before the accident took place.
Q: What inspired the title of the EP?
Iero: Keep the Coffins Coming was the title of a pulp novel by Julius Long about a guy who went around killing Nazis. The EP is not connected to the book really, but I loved the title so much because it conjured up so many images for me, and I loved the alliteration. I think about songs and the creations we make. We bring them to life, raise them, and then knock them off one by one. Sending them off to slaughter so to speak. The title for me refers to keeping the art coming, constantly burning down the past and making something new.
Q: What did you enjoy most about working with Steve Albini, why did you want to work with him, and what did he bring to the project that wouldn’t be there without him?
Iero: He’s amazing. It was a dream come true for me. I’ve been a fan of his work before I even knew it was all his work. I would listen to records and fall for them and wonder why they made me feel the way they did. Why did it sound as though I was in the room with the band? I started to realize there was a common thread through these records, and it was Steve’s name in the liner notes. I think the openness of the drums and how raw those guitars sound is what really rings true for me on the EP. I love that he just really knows how to capture a band’s sound.
Q: Which of Albini’s works do you love the most, why, and did that record influence you? If so, how?
Iero: That’s really difficult to peg down just one. (The Pixies’) Surfer Rosa is definitely up there; (Nirvana’s) In Utero,’of course, (Jawbreaker’s) 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. I think also ‘This Is a Hospital’ by The Ghost was huge for me because they were friends of ours and all of a sudden that dream I had as a kid of working with Steve seemed attainable. Plus the record is fucking amazing.
Q: Which of the EP’s tracks do you enjoy performing live most and why?
Iero: Probably “No Fun Club.” I think it’s just a real quick, visceral song. Ironically, it’s a lot of fun to play.
Q: Will Thursday make another record?
Rickly: No plans for that yet.
Q: My Chemical Romance, Pencey Prep and Thursday were all on Eyeball Records. Were Pencey Prep and/or My Chemical Romance friends with Thursday? If so, how does it feel to doing this year-end mini-tour together, particularly Dec. 30 in Jersey at Starland Ballroom?
Rickly: I produced the first My Chem record, before they even had Frank in the band. Frank gave me a ride to the studio a bunch, and I tried to convince him to join My Chem. At the same time, I worked on convincing My Chem they needed a second guitar player. It all worked out!
Iero: Pencey and My Chem shared a rehearsal spot with Thursday. We had this lock out room. It started as just Pencey’s, and then My Chem came in and then at some point, I think The Banner was also sharing it and then Thursday. Murder by Death filmed a video there. Basically, if you were a touring band from NJ or a band that signed to Eyeball, then you probably practiced in this gross little room in Passaic with us.
But it’s rad to get to play these shows together again. My Chem and Thursday had done some tours together back in the day, of course, and any opportunity to be able to share a stage with those guys is an absolute pleasure. They’re just really great people and a fantastic band.
Q: Comment on how the New Brunswick basement scene and Rutgers University influenced the formation of Thursday.
Rickly: It was everything to us. Music was a social phenomenon in New Brunswick. I put on basement shows, and that was a reason to start a band: to play the shows.
Q: Thursday are one of the bands that helped establish internationally the New Brunswick basement scene, which, as a result, is still going today in the face of obstacles from authorities. But because there aren’t many other rock venues in New Brunswick, the basement scene continues to provide a strong network to the DIY scene. Comment on how that network helped Thursday to flourish and how Thursday helped the scene to grow.
Rickly: We would have the bands play, and then they would stay at the house. We would cook dinner with them, become friends. We’d play their house on tour. DIY is the most vital part of any music culture, beyond the grip of corporate interests.
Q: Frank, what do you remember most about playing in the New Brunswick basement scene before My Chemical Romance was signed to Reprise?
Iero: Basically, just how hot and sweaty it got. We did a few Brunswick basement shows, but not a ton, like Thursday or You & I did. None of us went to school down there or lived down there, so we did way more VFW shows in North Jersey than we did Brunswick basements.
Q: Geoff, what is your most fond memory from those early days in the New Brunswick basement scene?
Rickly: The last You & I show. The whole crowd took turns taking the mic and talking about what the band meant to them. It was amazing.
Q: Did playing in the New Brunswick basement scene help My Chemical Romance’s following and career grow like it did Thursday or was it just another gig?
Iero: When we did play down there, it was definitely a fun time, but like I said I don’t think we were a staple in that scene like Thursday were.
Q: When was the last time Thursday played in New Brunswick?
Rickly: It’s been a long time. Early 2000s
Q: If the right opportunity was offered, would Thursday want to play in New Brunswick again?
Q: In addition to Eyeball Records and Rutgers, do Thursday and Frank Iero share any other associations?
Rickly: We’re friends. Horror movie lovers.
Q: What is the connection to PUP?
Rickly: They’re just one of my fave young bands. We played with them at Northside Festival and told them we needed to play together every chance we get.
Q: Since you developed your career, the music industry has changed greatly, making it much harder for up-and-coming rock bands to establish a career and make a living. Have these industry changes also affected you? If so, how do you circumnavigate them to flourish and what advice would you give up-and-coming bands to do the same?
Rickly: Of course. The open Internet has been amazing for a lot of things, but it’s been devastating for music. A lot of the industry models were already seriously exploitative and streaming services have often devalued music even further.
Iero: I really don’t know. It is an ever-changing landscape. It feels as though there are no rules anymore, though, and that seems like it works to a young band’s advantages.
I would say the best piece of advice I could give is whatever you do don’t be full of shit. Stay true to the craft. A good song is a good song no matter how people listen to it. And I’d like to think that will hold true forever.
Rickly: Retain control of your music, merch and touring.
Q: What other plans do you have for your music and other endeavors in 2018?
Iero: I plan on taking a little bit of time to myself and to be with my family in 2018. I do better when writing at home, and I think this year is going to be spent doing that.
Rickly: No plans yet.
Q: United Nations [the band co-founded by Rickly] self-released the single “Stairway to Mar-a-Lago” about a year ago to benefit Planned Parenthood and ACLU in protest of the inauguration of Trump. Has his presidency made you more outspoken about issues and is there anything you would like to comment on related to that?
Rickly: That song was made with a guest on vocals. Those lyrics were written by that singer — though I love that song. His presidency has been a horrible thing in every possible way. I don’t think that the conversation is improved by bringing the level of discourse down. I’ve been unable to respond to the current administration with U.N. The last thing I want is to be screaming about Trump at the moment. I’ve needed a moment to absorb things.
Q: Frank, you have been a vocal advocate for the gay community for a long time. Has the current presidential administration made you more outspoken about that and/or any other issues and is there anything you would like to comment on related to that?
Iero: I think an artist’s main job these days is to remind people what it is to be human, and that as humans, we need to look out for one another. Our differences should be celebrated and love of every kind should be protected at all costs. There are so many things in this world that will make us hurt, why add to that with ignorant nonsense?
Bob Makin is the reporter for MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor and still a contributor to The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at email@example.com. Like Makin Waves at facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.