PropertyOfZack had the chance to catch up with Dustin Kensrue yesterday for a new interview. We spoke with Dustin about his first material since Thrice, what working with Mars Hill is like, making religious music with purpose, fan fears of Dustin’s ties, and more. Check out the full interview below!
by Erik van Rheenen
How long after Thrice ended did it take to get back into the headspace to start writing solo material again?
I don’t break it up in my head very neatly. What I’ve realized is that I need deadlines when I’m writing — I have a lot of songs for different things partly written. I’ll set smaller deadlines for finishing songs, like when I finished “Of Crows and Crowns” or a song on the new album. But yeah, it was weird for a little while.
Was it also weird recording music without your bandmates?
It wasn’t really weird. With Thrice, songwriting was very collaborative, but it was very hard in a lot of cases because it takes things longer when everybody is bringing in their ideas. Besides writing lyrics, I’m much more skilled at taking pieces of things and making them a whole. I would see the end product of different parts.
How was working with Mars Hill for the recording process?
We’ve got a full-time guy who’s a producer and who was always in the studio, and he was great. I’d show a song to everyone who’d be collaborating on it in the morning, and we’d make a full arrangement out of what I’d bring to the studio. With old songs, we used to work everything out when we were in the studio. You think more about writing songs people will sing together as a group and that becomes your focus.
Thrice songs always had religious undertones, so was it different to write more openly religious songs?
The only difference in songs is their purpose. In an old song, the purpose was the end itself — it was made to listen to. When you write songs for people to sing together, it has a different purpose. When it comes to songwriting, having restraints is helpful, since having no restraints is hard and stifles creativity. That’s what made The Alchemy Index fun, is that we’d set restraints for ourselves and use just the instruments in the studio.
I’m not a believer in the subcategory of Christian music. Music is music, and I think Christians should make great art that’s accessible to everyone. Like, “It’s Not Enough” from the new record was originally going to be a Thrice song, and it asks hard questions, and it’s also influenced by the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Dustin Kensrue of Thrice will be releasing a new solo album called The Water And The Blood on October 1st via BEC Recordings/Mars Hill Music. Kensrue has also released a new song called “It’s Not Enough” that he originally thought would end up being a Thrice track. Stream the new song here via AltPress or below after the jump.
We’ve been having more fun than ever with our PropertyOfZack Friday Discussions lately with The Best Album Openers and Closers, so we thought we’d throw one more rad category out there with The Best Cover Songs. Covers can be tough; Some fans like the covering band to spice up the original’s song in their own way, and some fans don’t. To each their own. We put a list of covers from bands in our scene that we love in an Rdio Playlist to listen to as you read the Discussion as well (though not all covers were present). Check out our list below and feel free to reblog with some of your favorite covers!
The Ataris - “The Boys of Summer (Don Henley)”
Okay: raise your hand if upon hearing The Ataris’ cover of “The Boys of Summer” back in 2003, you thought it was actually their own song. You can’t see me, but my hand is definitely up. In fact, I had no idea it was a cover for a whole two years, until one fine morning when I was in eighth grade and my mom made a comment about how much better it was than the original. Without question, it absolutely is.
Everything from the sped-up tempo, to the progressive, much-improved instrumentals, to Kris Roe’s smooth-to-rough vocals, sounds like this is an Ataris original. Even though So Long, Astoria also boasted “In This Diary,” another mega-hit, this cover certainly did the album and band an entire world of good, receiving oodles of radio air-time and even making it to the top of the ever-infamous MTV music video countdown TRL (R.I.P. childhood). This song is a pop-punk classic, and by far outdoes its original not-so-pop-punk predecessor’s classic status. It’s hard to even think that someone before this band uttered, “My love for you will still be strong/after the boys of summer have gone” into a microphone. No offense, Don Henley, but this cover is so good that it pretty much puts the original out of existence. - Brittany Oblak
All Time Low - “Umbrella (Rihanna)”
It can be a little hard to remember nowadays, but there was a time when All Time Low brought the pop and the punk in equal measure, and they never did it better than on this cover of Rihanna’s mega-hit “Umbrella”. Marrying snarling guitars with sticky-sweet vocal harmonies that only soar bigger and brighter as the song progresses, “Umbrella” is such a natural fit for All Time Low’s strengths that you’d be forgiven for thinking Terius Nash helped pen it with the clown princes of pop-punk in mind. It’s a prime example of what can happen when a great song finds its way to a band at the peak of their creative powers. - Jesse Richman
Bayside - “Be My Baby (The Ronettes)”
Bayside has always produced good covers – so good, in fact, that the songs are sometimes mistaken for originals by less knowledgeable fans (see: “Megan” by The Smoking Popes). With their first covers EP, the band stepped into new territory, choosing to cover songs they had grown up listening to, and perhaps introducing a whole new generation to the likes of The Ronettes, Elvis Costello, Del Shannon, Van Morrison, and Billy Joel.
Of the five tracks on the EP, “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes, is the only one originally performed by a female band. However, between Anthony Raneri’s distinctive vocals and Jack O’Shea’s gripping guitar solo, the transition into a Bayside song is all but impeccable. Though Bayside has never been particularly known for love songs, the harmonies and vocal overlays that give this track its old school, swoon-worthy feel suggest that maybe the band should try it more often. - Becky Kovach
The Early November - “The Power Of Love (Huey Lewis & The News)”
I’m a sucker for cover versions that are truly transformative, and I’m not sure I can think of one that flips the script as radically as The Early November does on their cover of Huey Lewis & The News’ bombastic pop-cheese classic, “The Power Of Love.” By trading the skronking synths and pulsing drums of the original for laconic, hypnotically repetitive acoustic arpeggios and whisper-thin vocals, Ace Enders and company gingerly excavate the love that’s long been buried underneath all that power. I’ve written about it before, and I’m sure I’ll write about it again; it’s an obscure gem that deserves to be heard. - Jesse Richman
Kevin Devine – “Holland, 1945 (Neutral Milk Hotel)”
“The only girl I’ve ever loved was born with roses in her eyes / But then they buried her alive.” If I didn’t know any better, the cinematic lyrics to “Holland, 1945” could have been written by Kevin Devine. It’s no surprise that Devine chose to cover this Neutral Milk Hotel song, but what is slightly surprising is how he could change so little about the arrangement and still offer a completely different spin on the tune. Devine has a knack for making woeful songs sound like a celebration, and this cover is far from being an exception. - Alyssa McKinley
Thrice Frontman Starts Religious Band: The Modern Post
Dustin Kensrue of Thrice has been under fire lately after religious comments and statements he made about his future. Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem has now released a blog post on Kensrue’s behalf. Check it out below by clicking “Read More.”