Interview: The ThermalsBy John Wenzel | April 24th, 2009 | No Comments »
The Thermals pack more rawk punch into three sweaty, blistering, bleeding-palm chords than most acts do in an entire album. The Portland, Ore., indie-punk trio recently released the excellent “Now We Can See” on their new label, Kill Rock Stars, which they jumped two after a half dozen years on Sub Pop. We chatted briefly via e-mail with singer-guitarist Hutch Harris in advance of the Thermals’ set at the Marquis Theater tonight about his band’s label shift, their newly straight-head sound and the benefits of living in Portland.
Sub Pop seemed like a good fit for you guys, but Kill Rock Stars is also a great label. What prompted the jump?
Honestly we just wanted a different kind of contract. Kathy (Foster, the band’s bassist) and I financed this record ourselves and licensed it to Kill Rock Stars. We talked to pretty much every great indie label in the country. KRS had the best deal, and are obviously a great label.
Is it easier working with the label since they’re based in Portland now?
Yeah, Kathy and (drummer) Westin (Glass) live pretty close to their office, actually. It’s incredibly convenient for working with them! We find ourselves over there quite often. Their secretary is a dog named Jackson.
The songs from the new album sound pretty awesome live (I saw you play a couple sets at SXSW a few weeks ago.) Was there a conscious decision to strip them down and make them easier to translate in concert after the occasionally heavy overdubs of the last album?
Thanks. I am always trying to do less overdubs in the studio, but it’s pretty addicting. Yes, the songs are consciously more sparse on this record, and will be hopefully even more so on the next.
Various members of the Thermals have had their hands in other groups over the years (All Girl Summer Fun Band, Kind of Like Spitting, etc.) Is the Thermals all of your members’ main gig right now?
Yeah, the Thermals is all we do now! It takes pretty much all our time. I am gonna make a “solo” record when i get the time.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Portland, beyond the great cultural/artistic scene there? Least favorite?
The best things about Portland are the beautiful people and the beautiful music. The worst thing is the cold, gray, rainy winter, which seems to last about nine months.
John Wenzel is the co-editor of Reverb and an arts and entertainment writer for The Denver Post. He recently published the book “Mock Stars: Indie Comedy and the Dangerously Funny” and edits the Get Real Denver blog.