Teppei Teranishi of Thrice

The leak? Guitar Hero? The future? We cover all the bases with Teppei

Johnny Firecloudby Johnny Firecloud

Teppei Teranishi of Thrice

Post-hardcore quintet Thrice was burned by the fires of accessibility when their sixth and newest album Beggars leaked to the masses two full months before its October release date. The band dealt well with the blow, moving up the release and adding five new bonus tracks for prospective buyers. So far the response has been well, with both critics and fans alike calling it a triumph. 

The album is a fresher, more energetic take on their sound than the sleepy-sounding Vheissu, with deeper grooves and sharper edges than anything we've heard from the band in years. We sat down with founding guitarist Teppei Teranishi to dig into the band's reaction to the leak, the world of Guitar Hero (one of their tracks is featured in the upcoming fifth installment of the game) and the wonderful world of internet message boards. 


CraveOnline: You rocked the hell out of Warped Tour in Phoenix in what must've been 115-degree weather, and I don't know how you managed not to die of heatstroke, but it was a great freakin' show.


Teppei Teranishi: Haha, thanks.  Really though, we're the ones that have it easy.  We get up for 40 mins on a semi-shaded stage and go hide in our air-conditioned bus the rest of the day.  I think you guys have the truly grueling side. 


CraveOnline: With Beggars, you worked at your own pace and recorded the album yourselves. What were the pros/cons of being able to take your time and work an idea to death?


Teppei Teranishi: There certainly is the chance of working something to death when you don't have anyone to steer you.  But then again, there's still a chance of doing that with a producer as well.  I actually think we had the opposite affect this time around though.  We left a lot of "rough edges" and kept a lot of things more real in a sense.  


CraveOnline: Obviously you're not going to feel good about your hand being forced, but you generally put on a good face about the leak, even having a "leak sale" on your myspace page. What would you like to have seen done differently, had there been time to properly build up to the release?


Teppei Teranishi: Yeah it was a bummer but I feel like everything has worked out.  It was a pretty stressful few days though.  We basically had to reconfigure our entire plan to rollout the record (something that had been being planned months before hand) in just a few days.  It certainly was very disrupting.  I think the biggest bummer for me was that we spent a lot of time working with our buddy Nate on the artwork, but ended up having to change all the pictures out last minute, because we didn't have time anymore for the proper clearances.  We're just as excited about the new pictures we got, but it was a bummer to have to tear down and start again.  But that being said, we're all super comfortable where we're at now and I think we made the best of the situation.  We're really blessed to have really solid and loyal listeners, and the support everyone has shown has been really encouraging and humbling.  


CraveOnline: Has the Beggars leak affected the way you plan to release music in the future?


Teppei Teranishi: I don't know.  Haven't thought that far ahead yet.  Ha.  


CraveOnline: The 5 bonus tracks  on the album- was that an afterthought, to give listeners/prospective buyers something to anticipate?


Teppei Teranishi: Sort of, I suppose.  We recorded twelve songs and two of them didn't make the record so those are the two b-sides.  We were already talking about having some people do remixes but weren't really sure what we'd use it for.  The record leaked, we had to put it out in two tiers (digital, then physical) and we wanted to make sure the physical wouldn't get lost in the water.  Helter Skelter was the only thing that we recorded solely for the purpose of a bonus track.  


CraveOnline: What made you decide to finally record Helter Skelter?  


Teppei Teranishi: We had been playing it live and it were having a ton of fun with it.  It was a "it's great live, but I don't know how it'll come off recorded" sort of thing so we never planned on recording it but a lot of people had been asking for it, so we did it just to see how it would end up.  We just had fun with it, and hopefully that comes off in the recording.


CraveOnline: You're contributing "Deadbolt" to Guitar Hero 5 - on one hand it's great to be immortalized in a video game alongside some rock legends, but on the other hand it's got to be strange for a band who didn't grow up in the age of playing pretend plastic instruments instead of the actual thing. Thoughts?


Teppei Teranishi: Haha, yeah I agree.  It's strange and cool at the same time.  It's all in the name of fun though, that's why we submitted Deadbolt instead of one of our newer songs.  I do think though, that kids these days need to understand the importance of actually doing stuff and getting out.  Go camping.  Go skateboarding.  Bury your head in a good book.  Take some art classes.  Start a band.  I don't have a single video game system in my house and I intend to keep it that way.  


CraveOnline: Do you think games like Guitar hero and Rock Band encourage musical development, or are musical fast food in a way?


Teppei Teranishi: It's just a video game and I hope kids don't see it as any more than that.  


CraveOnline: You're touring with Brand New, and shown love to everyone from the Delta Spirit to Invisible Children. Who else should your fans be checking out and why? 


Teppei Teranishi: Aushua, We Barbarians, Yellow Red Sparks are all friends of ours that are doing something special.  


CraveOnline: Do you get into the message boards at all to see what your fans are saying? Does it make you want to get new fans? ;)


Teppei Teranishi: Haha.  I peek at the comments on our site/blog every once in a while, but I try not to read that stuff too much.  It makes me start thinking about outside opinions too much and that's something I don't want to worry about.  I talked about this the other day, but I read a quote by an amazing photographer by the name of W Eugene Smith..."an artist must be ruthlessly selfish".  It may sound brutal from a fan's perspective, but it's so true.  Once you start letting things like "what would people think about this" worry you, then it's not coming from a real place.  


CraveOnline: How has your songwriting process evolved as a band to this point?


Teppei Teranishi: It varies a lot record to record.  The Alchemy Index was written very much in the studio, with us pretty much building the songs as we recorded them.  This record was drastically different.  We really wanted to get back to the basics and do something very band-centric.  All the songs were written by us jamming in our small space and vibing off each other. 


CraveOnline: When you recorded live in the past, was it difficult to put yourself in the mindset where you're not wanting to throw in overdubs and extra tracks? 


Teppei Teranishi: Sort of.  I remember when we were getting ready to release our Live At The House Of Blues DVD, there were a lot of other bands putting out the same sort of thing, and they all sounded super insane.  To my ears, they sounded overdubbed, and it was making me self-conscious about our DVD since it sounded so raw, and well...live.  


CraveOnline: I hear you're not doing live recording anymore. True?


Teppei Teranishi: No...  I wonder if that came from us wanted to record Beggars "live", meaning recording the record with all of us playing together instead of doing it piece by piece.  Our tiny studio just isn't conducive to that so ended up tracking it the normal way of recording all the instruments one at a time.  


CraveOnline: After this tour, what's in store for the rest of the year? 


Teppei Teranishi: Well, the aforementioned tour with Brand New, and then some headlining dates attached to that.  Then...I'm not really sure.  Probably go overseas and then another US tour? Who knows?

Hear new Thrice music, check out tour dates and more - Thrice
Photo credit: Josh Hofer