In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
With their new collection, Major/Minor, Thrice have taken the strangest turn one could have expected at this point: not much of a turn at all. After a decade-plus of sonic soul-searching, the West Coast foursome have stuck to the guns they crafted on 2009’s Beggars. They’ve perfected their soulful alternative rock, although with an admitted grunge-era groove seeping in this time around.
Always the most interesting and progressive of the early ’00s wave of Warped dudes with a bent for literature and a knack for heavy riffage, Thrice wear their influences on their sleeve, with pride. Quick to namedrop underappreciated cult heroes like No Knife and Talk Talk, their recorded homages tend to be a bit more obvious – which itself sort of always felt deliberate.
Thrice – Helter Skelter (The Beatles Cover)
Originally introduced into their live set around 2008, this White Album classic is a perfect summation of what makes Thrice so great: haunting melody, raging guitars, and Dustin Kensrue’s deeply soulful voice. It wasn’t until Thrice covered this song (we don’t count the Mötley Crüe version around here) that it became so stunningly obvious that this was the song that laid the groundwork for punk rock. The intro riff, the shouting in every verse–it’s a textbook that’s been used since 1968, and what better way to pay tribute than to literally pay tribute?
Thrice – I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (Beatles Cover)
Another late-era Beatles track found its way into Thrice’s home studio after their 2009 rebirth known as Beggars. Again, like “Helter Skelter,” they don’t expressively reimagine the hook of the cover, but it’s Thrice doing The Beatles. Fuzzed out bass and guitars give a new depth to Lennon’s classic about unrequited love. With their Beatles covers, Thrice doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. It’s more a matter that The Beatles invented the wheel and the California quintet appreciates it to the point where they need to play these songs. Hey, who’s complaining?
Thrice – Seeing Red/Screaming at a Wall (Minor Threat)
For the 2005 release of Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland, Activision took a who’s who from the previous three years of Warped Tour and asked for covers of old punk favorites. Thursday did the Buzzcocks, Saves the Day, The Dead Boys. Thrice, at a time in their career when they were singing the praises of ambiance like Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock, did the one thing no one expected them to do: get as old school as possible. Even on their earlier, heavier records, guitarist Teppei Teranishi was a riff machine, staying away from the straightforwardness of the punk rock the band claimed to grow up on. Not here. Here, it’s out in full force. One of the most musically challenging bands of the era, this cover sounds like it was recorded in the same manner as a Minor Threat record–one mic in one room with four guys. There’s something beautiful about that.
Thrice – The Earth Isn’t Humming (Frodus)
The most obscure cover in the Thrice oeuvre is also the most readily available, having made an appearance on the last volume (Earth) of the band’s four-part Alchemy Index project, a collection of elemental-inspired EPs released from 2007-2008. Coming from And We Washed Our Weapons In The Sea, Frodus’ 2001 swan song, “The Earth Isn’t Humming” fits so easily on a Thrice album perhaps because of the overt Frodus influence on later Thrice. The spastic guitars, driving bass and pounding drum sound is nothing new—we just defined alternative rock, basically. Although on the rare occasion Thrice has played it live, it’s a more straightforward rock song. On the Earth EP, made with only acoustic instruments (save for one lead electric guitar or two), “The Earth…” still retains the same groove and passion, albeit with a down-home flavor provided by Kensrue’s vocal and the band’s ability to play anything put in front of them with relative ease. It might not be a Thrice song in the classic sense, but then again, neither is “Helter Skelter.”
Thrice – Send Me An Angel (Real Life)
In the lone early-era Thrice cover worthy of inclusion, the then-skate rats from Orange County took the classic pop song from the fantastic almost-Nintendo-promo video/cult classic film, The Wizard (which for the un-nerdy stars a pre-Rilo Kiley Jenny Lewis) and made it into the kind of stomper that starts circle pits on the floors of venues across the world. “Do you believe in heaven above/do you believe in love?” are the opening lines, ones you’ve heard on the radio for years. Take away the dated synth sounds and replace them with Mesa half-stacks and an old underappreciated classic gets new life breathed into it in an instant. The power of interpretation—never understated.
Check out more from Thrice at their website.
why don’t you cover the ‘Motley Crue’ version of ‘Helter Skelter?’ Indie snobbery?
Actually, Janet, we covered Motley Crue’s version last year. Check it out: