Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Thermals Interview:
10 Questions with Hutch Harris

Does everyone love The Thermals yet? Well they should! The band formed in 2002 in Portland, OR and released their debut More Parts Per Million on Sub-Pop in 2003--A four-track gem recorded in Hutch Harris' kitchen. Since then the band has released three more records and gone through a few incarnations with various drummers while continuing to fine tune and improve their brand of post-punk-pop. This case is best displayed on their excellent new release Now We Can See, where the songs are delivered through the perspective of the dead.

The Thermals will play the Middle East tomorrow night in support of Now We Can See which comes via there new label Kill Rock Stars with support from Shaky Hands and Point Juncture, WA.

I'm pretty damn excited to finally get to see The Thermals this week and equally excited that front man Hutch Harris agreed to field some questions from us via e-mail. He was gracious enough to fill us in on all things Thermals. Thanks Hutch!

[MP3] The Thermals- Now We Can See

The Ash Gray Proclamation: A lot of changes have occurred over the last year with The Thermals--you signed to a new label, hooked up with a new producer, and added a new member to the band. How did Westin Glass come to be your new drummer?

Hutch: Westin was living in Seattle. He emailed us when he heard we were looking for a new drummer, then came down and played with us a few times before we asked him to join the band. We auditioned a lot of drummers. Westin had the best style and the best personality.

AGP: How did the decision to move from Sub Pop to Kill Rock Stars come about?

: We wanted a different contract than the type Sub-Pop was offering us. Kill Rock Stars offered the deal we wanted. Plus they just moved to Portland, which is so awesome. It's great to have them in town and to finally have a really good record label in Portland.

AGP: After the success of The Body, The Blood, and The Machine and it's political and religious themes, did you feel a need to take The Thermals into a less conceptual direction for the new record?

Not less conceptual, just less political and less religious. There is very much a concept happening in this record... this record is all about life, from the point of view of the dead.

AGP: The new album is fantastic. What was it like working with John Congleton who handles production duties on Now We Can See ?

Hutch: Thank you! It was great working with John. He got in touch with us. He was a big fan of The Body,The Blood, and The Machine and was very enthusiastic about doing this record. John is the same age as Kathy and I so the three of us pretty much have all the same reference points. He also encouraged us to sign with KRS.

AGP: How do you feel Now You Can See compares with your previous work?

: We think these are some of the best songs we've ever written. We wouldn't release it unless we felt that way.

AGP: There seems to be a more positive tone with this record. Did the end of the Bush Administration and the Inauguration of President Obama have any influence on that?

: Closing the chapter on Bush's two terms definitely played a big part in it, but all of the music and most of the lyrics were written before Obama even had the nomination, so I can't say that affected it. The title works well, obviously, and we're happy to ride Obama's coattails and cash in on his success just like everyone else.

AGP: I read somewhere that you were planning a solo album in the future--do you have any details you can share on that project?

: Yeah it's gonna be called Portland Girls and I hope to record it this year on an 8 track 1/2" reel to reel. Some of the song titles are "J-J-J-Jen" and "When Mallory's Around".

AGP: Do you think that lost Thermals album will ever see the light of day?

: Yes, for sure. It's called We Sleep In A Holy Bed. You'll be downloading it illegally in a few years.

AGP: You've been touring the country by mini-van in support of the new record-- what have you guys been listening to on those long drives?

We're in a Sprinter now, thankfully. The mini-van was just for a quick trip we took to Bethlehem, PA to play with The Roots. We listen to a ton of stuff. Today already we've listened to The Hot Snakes, The Beatles, and The Rentals.

AGP: I woke up this morning and saw that I had 80 twitter messages or tweets and I think 60 were from The Thermals, are you guys twitter junkies?

Uh, yeah, we're fucking addicted to this bullshit. You probably have another 60 from us since you read this interview. We are going to encourage people to visit our twitter page to see what's up with us, 'cuz following us must be fucking ridiculous.
Grab tickets for The Middle East show here.

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