Thrice’s Dustin Kensrue reflects on the band’s illustrious yet tumultuous 20-year history

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Thrice’s Dustin Kensrue reflects on the band’s illustrious yet tumultuous 20-year history

Words by Anna Rose

Casting his mind back to 2006 and an explosive performance at London’s Brixton Academy, Dustin Kensrue remembers when Thrice were performing off the back of their 2005 album, Vheissu, alongside Coheed and Cambria.

“Any flashing back is a bit rough,” admits Kensrue. “We have played many, many shows since then.”

2018 marks Thrice’s 20th anniversary as a band, with their innovation and ambition key factors to their longevity and evolving sound. Kensrue says he has no regrets; only lessons learned.

“I think it would have been interesting had we tried to figure out a more healthy and sustainable way to tour early on,” he says. “Our schedule kind of ground us into the ground, which precipitated taking a break.

“I’m not one for overly rehashing the past. I think it’s good to learn from it – you’ve gotta go on the road to learn the things you’ve gotta learn, I guess.”

Their latest release, Palms, exemplifies of Thrice’s evolution, both sonically and personally, and reflects the band’s time together.  From congenitally charged post-hardcore, to wonderfully sweeping piano ballads, it’s likely the most expansive release of Thrice’s career. Of course, each album is representative of the moment in time at which they’re released, making it harder for Kensrue to differentiate exactly what Palms might stand for overall.

“I think it’s very uniquely a record that makes sense for it,” he says. “For us right now as a band, for me as a songwriter, I think it’s proven to be a balm to people in certain positions and a challenge for people in others.”

A soothing and helpful balm indeed. Other ointments that may have contributed to the success of Thrice’s recent work is their infamous hiatus. In 2012, Thrice announced they’d be taking a break from being a full-time band – but it wasn’t breaking up.

It would be two years before Thrice came together to play again, officially breaking the hiatus with a photo on their website of a mixing desk and the band performing. Their next album, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, would be released in 2016.

“It brought a fresh sense of appreciation for each other, for what we’ve accomplished, and definitely a fresh sense of energy and renewal that comes out of a rest, I think,” Kensrue reflects.

“It’s interesting to see recent studies on how important taking a break is for creativity and just efficiency, even in a corporate workplace environment. I feel like for creatives sometimes that isn’t also appreciated, and I think it was really helpful for us.”

Out on tour and performing their new collection of songs alongside nostalgic classics, Kensrue agrees that they, and the fans, recognise there’s a renewed energy, love, and commitment to their craft. Respite was dearly needed, and it shows in how they now perform as a unit.

“I hear a lot of people who have seen us many times, saying that we’re sounding better than we ever have. That’s always good to hear.

“We’ve been playing together long enough that even on our worst nights, it still sounds pretty good.”

Come next May, Thrice will take to Australian stages for their first headline tour in over a decade.

“We’ve been away too long,” says Kensrue. Armed with a 20-year catalogue of rock music that has consistently pushed boundaries, fans can expect to be pummelled with a mix of stuff from the past two decades.

“There are certain songs that are really old I definitely feel super disconnected to – the connection being closer to laughing at pictures of yourself in high school than anything else,” he says.

“But I think we’ve learned to appreciate those things in their own way.”

Catch Thrice when they take over Melbourne’s 170 Russell on Sunday May 19 (sold out). Head to the SBM Presents for more info.