The Thermals put on one of our favorite McCarren Pool shows a couple summers back alongside Ted Leo, the fun and energy of their head-bobbing post-pop-punk set clearly winning over a crowd that may have been more familiar with their elder punk headliner. The Pool is no longer, but The Thermals are still bringing it. This weekend they'll be playing two nights at a sold out Bowery Ballroom (and they've added a Monday show at Music Hall of Williamsburg)—joining them are fellow Portlandites The Shaky Hands and Port Juncture, WA.
The band checked in with us on their thoughts about how Larry David would fair in Portland, what is cursing indie music right now and what the ideal garb for dry humping is. Frontman Hutch Harris recently admitted to editing the band's own Wikipedia page, so we shouldn't have been expecting anything less than the sort of charming bravado from someone who very well may have been the one to describe their new album there as "continuing The Thermals' tradition of raw punk energy combined with brilliant melodies and intelligent lyrics."
Thermals songs have played a pretty crucial role in some killer mix CDs we've made and received. What song of yours would you recommend for someone who was really going in for the kill someone they were all gaga for? I think most of our songs would be better for break-up mix CDs. Like, "We need to talk. It's not you, it's me. Here, this mix cd should explain the rest". Sadly the mix CD is now as dead as the mix tape. Now when you're into someone you just email them a link to a site where they can download a folder with a bunch of shitty mp3's.
You guys opened for the final Sleater-Kinney shows in Portland a couple years back. If you guys were folding up shop tomorrow, who would you want to be playing alongside you? What band that’s called it quits was the hardest for you to let go of? I'm not sure if they're done for good, but a world without Fugazi is scary and surreal to me. If we were to play our last show tomorrow I would want Explode Into Colors to play. Somehow they're the past and the future at the same time.
This is your first album put out on Kill Rock Stars. Did you have a favorite KRS band growing up? It's hard to choose, there are so many good bands. Unwound and Bikini Kill are obviously up there, but man that Cupid Car Club EP? It's fucking brilliant.
If you could be any riot grrrl band for a day, who would it be? I would've loved to be in Team Dresch, personally.
Oh man, for a second my Microsoft Word seemed to be accepting "grrrl" as a properly spelled word and I got so excited that it was in the computer’s dictionary. That probably would have been the must psyched I got using Word since the time it automatically capitalized Gatorade for me. I was like, “You guys know what Gatorade is?!” (I did it again just now for good measure.) Have you ever had transcendent moments with a word processor? Fuck Microsoft and Fuck Gatorade. One rots yr teeth and the other rots yr brain.
You mentioned to Seattlest watching Curb Your Enthusiasm a lot during recording (with a prêt-ty good nod thrown in). I lived there for two years, that town is sensitive! Not everyone gets that you can say abrasive things and it can just be a joke sometimes, ya know? Do you think someone as inflammatory as Larry would get run out of Portland? I'm the Larry David of Portland, and I haven't been kicked out yet. Portland's a lot less PC than it used to be, thank God. Used to be you just ran someone out of town by putting up flyers calling them a rapist. It didn't really matter if there was any truth to it. A lot of those kids have grown the fuck up and are doing more constructive things with their time.
What are your feelings on sweatpants? Sweatpants are for one thing only, and that's dry humping. So, yes I'm very pro-sweatpants.
The MTV News story on Portland last year made it look like half the indie shows in town take place at house parties. When was the last time you guys did a house show? Have you ever played any weddings or very specific environments like that? We haven't played a basement show in forever. I'm hell of claustrophobic so I don't feel guilty about not playing basements for a long time. When there's one exit and water dripping onto your amps you start to ask yourself "What the fuck am i doing here?" We played our friend's wedding one time, it was ridiculous. Too many confused old people.
Do you guys ever listen to Top 40 or much radio at all while driving around on tour? Are there any pop songs right now that really have your ear? We heard a song called "Birthday Sex" which was pretty sweet, I don't know who "sings" it. (It's a slow jam by Jeremih and it rules.-ed.) We love Beyonce as well. All the single ladies! We usually don't listen to the radio on tour because we're always driving through the middle of nowhere and all that's on the radio is Aryans For Jesus or some psycho shit like that.
How many Portland peeps have you known who moved to New York? Under what conditions could we ever lure you guys here? Stumptown’s gonna be here any day now, ya know. You know, I've known a lot of people from Portland who have moved to New York, and you know what? They all move back. There's a curse here that calls you back. But I do love New York, I was born there and lived the first eight years of my life on the upper west side. It's the first place I would live after Portland, so maybe someday again.
Are any of you guys big Blazers fans? Do any of you own any sweet memorabilia? How heartbreaking was that series after such an explosive season? Once Oden’s really ready to rock, how hard are the Blazers gonna make heads roll? To answer all of your questions in order: Nope, nope, don't care, not very hard.
A lot of indie bands sort of seem catered toward an older audience, putting forth a sound that often strikes me as more esoteric than the bands that a lot of us grew up on. Do you guys make a conscious effort to put forth music that doesn’t follow that trend, that feels like a band I would make sure my cool fifteen-year old cousin knew about? Or are you just naturally that infectious? It's not esoteric, it's stupid and boring. Bland music for bland fucking people. We just make the music we want to make, music that makes us happy, that gives a good feeling that is hopefully passed on to anyone who's listening. It just so happens the music we enjoy making isn't the kind of watered down bullshit indie rock that's polluting the world right now.