To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere
|To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere|
|Studio album by Thrice|
|Released||May 27, 2016|
(Los Angeles, California)
|Singles from To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere|
To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere is the ninth studio album by American rock band Thrice. The album was released on May 27, 2016 through Vagrant Records. To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere is Thrice's first release after coming out of four-year hiatus—from mid-2012 to mid-2015—and first album of original material in five years since 2011's Major/Minor. Most of the band members continued performing music and pursuing other interests during the hiatus, which included moving to new cities or states with their new families. After reuniting and performing sporadic festival dates in 2015, Thrice announced their intention to release a new album the following year. Because of the distance between the members' new homes, the demos for To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere were written, recorded, shared and collaborated on digitally through various software programs that weren't as prevalent before they went on hiatus. The album was produced by Eric Palmquist and features more politically and/or socially charged lyrics than has been seen on previous Thrice albums.
Thrice formally announced To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere in March 2016, and have released two singles in support of the album, "Black Honey" in May 2016, and "Hurricane" in April 2017. Because most members of Thrice settled down and started families during their hiatus, the band decided to be more selective about their touring schedules after reforming in order to spend more time at home.
Thrice decided to go on an indefinite hiatus in 2012 following the supporting tours of their 2011 eighth studio album, Major/Minor. In their break-up announcement, the band members cited several reasons for the break including an intense touring and writing schedule for 13 years, each member's evolving music tastes and not being able to spend enough time with their families. Several band members also experienced the death of a family member surrounding the production and release of Major/Minor. Vocalist and guitarist Dustin Kensrue assured fans that Thrice would one day return. He said: "Thrice is not breaking up. If nothing has broken us up by now, I doubt anything ever could. However, we will be taking a break from being a full-time band, and the upcoming tour in the Spring will be the last one for the foreseeable future." Released months after the band officially parted ways in 2012, the 24-song live album Anthology captured Thrice's final tour and for several years remained the band's then-final release.
During their hiatus, most members of Thrice continued to perform music in various projects. Kensrue continued his work as a worship director at Mars Hill Church until 2014 when he left amid controversies surrounding evangelical Christian Mark Driscoll. He continued his solo music career and released two studio albums under his own name during the hiatus: The Water & the Blood (2013) and Carry the Fire (2015). Kensrue also formed a new band under the moniker The Modern Post that performed worship music and released two EPs—Grace Alone (2012) and Lowborn King (2014)—through Mars Hill Church's own label, Mars Hill Music. Drummer Riley Breckenridge formed a grindcore and baseball-themed band called Puig Destroyer, an amalgamation of the grindcore band Pig Destroyer and baseball player Yasiel Puig. Puig Destroyer released two EPs—Puig Destroyer (2013) and Wait for Spring (2013)—and a full-length studio album Puig Destroyer (2014). He also served as a touring drum technician for Jimmy Eat World and Weezer. Bassist Eddie Breckenridge was briefly a member of Tom DeLonge's Angels & Airwaves in 2014 and also filled in as a touring member of 90s emo band Knapsack during their 2013–2015 reunion shows. Teppei Teranishi became interested in leather crafting, later opening his own store to sell his products and claims to have only picked up his guitar to play "Itsy Bitsy Spider" for his kids during the hiatus.
In December 2014, Thrice announced they would reform in the following year. Kensrue was at a Brand New show in Seattle with guitarist Teppei Teranishi when he realized he wanted to get Thrice back together. He texted his former bandmates and said (roughly): "I miss you, I miss making music with you and I hope that we can do it again." Riley Breckenridge said that text message quickly "snowballed" into conversations about performing shows and writing new music again. Kensrue said the hiatus was important because the band needed to take time off and form a new appreciation for Thrice. He elaborated: "The break was a good thing, a really good thing [...] I think it was healthy, as much as I think it was hard for everyone in the band in different ways at the time we took the break, but coming back, I also think we're all grateful for it." The band has said that with their reunion, Thrice would take a more structured approach with writing and touring so that they wouldn't be away from their families and other responsibilities for extended periods of time. In December 2015, after performing at various festival dates throughout most of the year, Thrice formally announced they would release a new album in 2016.
Writing and recording
The writing process for To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere lasted about six months, though most members continued to write parts that could one day be worked into a Thrice song during their hiatus. For the majority of Thrice's career, all of the band members lived within close proximity to each other in California, but during the hiatus, several members moved out of state or to different cities. To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere was the first album written primarily through file sharing ideas and demo recordings over the internet. Though the band made an effort to write material while they were together at various festival dates in 2015, the majority of the album was created virtually. They used programs such as Logic Studio for building songs, Dropbox for sharing files and Asana for facilitating and logging communication. The members of Thrice had varying opinions on how effective this new method was. Riley Breckenridge, who previously composed music virtually with Puig Destroyer, said he found the situation to be challenging and would have preferred to jam together in person as a band instead. He said, "I think it was difficult to not have a lot of time to jam stuff out but I think it also forced us to be more creative in the studio once we all got together and actually started recording the songs. It was an exciting way to write a record because it was a new way to write, but it was also daunting because it was unfamiliar." Kensrue said he felt the extra time and distance allowed each member to act more creatively and ultimately greatly benefited the finished album. The members of Thrice also had to write around their family's schedules—at the time of recording, Kensrue and Teranishi both had three kids and Riley Breckenridge just had his first.
During the writing process, Thrice scrapped a few ideas for what To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere would or could be. Kensrue originally wanted to pen "a more stringent concept album," but abandoned the idea as the album was coming together in favor of looser sociopolitical themes throughout. Eddie Breckenridge also hoped their comeback album would be significantly heavier, feature more energy and "smash people's faces" musically. While the album didn't turn out that way, Eddie said Thrice took a lot of the "more somber" sounding demos and "brought them up a level for the album," citing the transformation of "Black Honey" from a laid-back acoustic song to a "big rock song" as one example.
To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere was produced by Eric Palmquist (Mutemath, Dot Hacker, Eyes Set to Kill). Contrasting the more intense production schedules for previous albums where the band would spend "eight hours a day, every day, in the studio," Thrice recorded music in sessions every other day to prevent burnout and keep the engineering process fun. In addition to the flexible recording schedule, the demos Thrice brought into the studio were described as being "a lot more open-ended" than the demos for Beggars and Major/Minor. This allowed the band members to experiment and tinker with working versions of the songs before officially recording them. Riley Breckenridge described the process, stating: "It was a lot more like a conversation and a creative experience than it was just capturing better versions of the final demos we had."
Music and lyrics
The members of Thrice have stated that while elements or parts of To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere might recall other albums in their discography, the new album has a unique sound of its own. Riley Breckenridge said, "I think there is a different sound but I also think that there is a healthy nod to some of our back catalog in a lot of the music. There's stuff on this record that wouldn't necessarily feel out of place on The Artist in the Ambulance, or Vheissu or wouldn't have felt out of place if it was part of The Alchemy Index or Beggars, or Major/Minor. But at the same time it's also pushing that kind of stuff forward." Similarly, Kensrue said, "I don't know that this new record sounds like a huge jump. It's very different from Major/Minor or Beggars, but I feel like it's not this giant move." Lars Gotrich of NPR noted that the promotional track "Black Honey" musically recalled "late-period Cave In" and compared Kensrue's vocals to the "soulful rasp of Soundgarden's Chris Cornell." The track "Blood On the Sand" was heavily inspired by Nirvana. To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere was noted for sounding heavier than Thrice's previous few albums. Riley Breckenridge said he appreciated when more aggressive sounds were incorporated in an emotionally impactful and dynamic way, drawing inspiration from bands who he felt like achieved this, including: Cave In, Torche, Cult of Luna and O'Brother. Thrice also made an effort in the studio to make a "seamless record from track to track," which they achieved by having "an outro will bleed into an intro for another song or there's a segue."
Where as previous Thrice albums have lyrically focused on literary, biblical and occasional science-fiction themes, To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere touches on various political, cultural and social themes for most of the album. Generally speaking about the album's lyrics, Kensrue said, "I would definitely say that we've drawn a lot of our influence from the current state of politics, but I also like to personalize things when I write, and I've always written that way." The song "Blood On the Sand" (with the opening line: "We wave our flags, we swallow fear like medicine / We kiss the hands of profiteers and their congressmen") was described as having "much more hard-hitting political dialogue" and Kensrue elaborated in another interview that, "I've usually tried to stay out of being explicitly political in the sense of being partisan, at least in my art. I really hate the party system and think it's a huge part of a lot of the problems we have [...] I try not to go to the party lines but to just talk about actual social issues that have political ramifications." The song "Black Honey" conjures imagery of a man swatting at bees in order to collect their honey while becoming confused why they would sting him back, which Kensrue said "seemed a fitting metaphor for much of U.S. foreign policy." The song "Whistleblower" is about Edward Snowden, who famously leaked NSA documents proving that the government was spying on American citizens without warrant. The song "Death from Above" was written from the perspective of an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (or drone) pilot. Kensrue said about half the tracks on To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere follow this explicitly political theme, while the rest were described as being more broadly focused and touched on social or cultural concepts.
The title of the album—To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere—is derived from a quote by the Roman philosopher and statesman Seneca the Younger (4 BC – AD 65) found in his text Epistulae morales ad Lucilium—referred to today as Letters from a Stoic. In addition to the album's title, Thrice also named the interlude track "Seneca" after the philosopher. Though it was written thousands of years ago, Thrice found meaning in the quote in a contemporary setting, with Kensrue stating, "it seems like it was written for our time right now." He elaborated: "We have so many more distractions and things at our fingertips. Ways for us to disengage from the world around us. [To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere] became the background noise we were breathing as we were writing the album." Riley Breckenridge said that in today's society with smartphones, Google, the internet and easy access to a massive wealth of knowledge, it's hard to focus on the present. To him, the Seneca quote meant "focusing more on the importance of being present in the moment that you're in instead of being everywhere all at once." In the original context of the quote, Seneca was giving advice to Lucilius Junior and suggests that it is better for one to sharpen his focus on what's important than to divide his attention between many things. A longer passage of the quote reads:
You should be extending your stay among writers whose genius is unquestionable, deriving constant nourishment from them if you wish to gain anything from your reading that will find a lasting place in your mind. To be everywhere is to be nowhere. People who spend their whole life travelling abroad end up having plenty of places where they can find hospitality but no real friendships. The same must needs be the case with people who never set about acquiring an intimate acquaintanceship with any one great writer, but skip from one to another, paying flying visits to them all. Food that is vomited up as soon as it is eaten is not assimilated into the body and does not do one any good...— Seneca the Younger (translated by Robin Campbell), Letters from a Stoic: Epistulae Morales Ad Lucilium
Marketing and promotion
Prior to the release of To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere, Thrice promoted the album with an online stream of two tracks. The first, "Blood on the Sand," became available online on March 24, 2016. Kensrue said picking the debut track to promote an album is always difficult because of all the guesswork involved, but ultimately selected this one because: "It has an immediacy to it, the pacing—I really like the song in general, it's pretty strong melodically, energetically." That song was followed by "Black Honey" a month later on April 27, which was one of the first tracks Thrice wrote after reuniting. The week of the album's release, Thrice posted "Death from Above" online for streaming. A music video for "Black Honey" directed by Y2K was released on May 17. The video depicts a boy with glowing eyes being driven through a rural countryside by various figures, including members of Thrice. The car pulls over by an orchard and after a flash of light emanating from the boy, the trees are covered in a dark liquid substance—presumably black honey.
With the announcement of the end of the band's hiatus, the members of Thrice also said that their touring in support of future albums starting with To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere would be significantly scaled back from their more rigorously scheduled touring days before the hiatus in order to spend more time with their families and other projects. Riley Breckenridge said, "when we were in The Artist in the Ambulance  or Vheissu  days we'd be on tour for about 8 to 10 months out of the year" but for upcoming tours, "I think we're going to scale it back, and I believe the longest that we'll be out for is three weeks to a month. Then we're going to make sure that we have a decent gap where we can be at home and take care of stuff on the homefront." Thrice's first tour for To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere will be a June 2016 North American tour with support from La Dispute and Gates followed by an August 2016 European tour.
|Consequence of Sound||C-|
To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 78, based on eight reviews.
In a positive review for Chorus.fm, Aaron Mook concludes, "Simply put, To Be Everywhere is To Be Nowhere is one of the best “rock” records of 2016 and an ambitious entry into Thrice’s already stunning catalog."
All lyrics written by Dustin Kensrue; all music composed by Eddie Breckenridge, Riley Breckenridge, Dustin Kensrue, and Teppei Teranishi.
|2.||"Blood on the Sand"||2:50|
|5.||"The Long Defeat"||4:11|
|8.||"Stay with Me"||4:00|
|9.||"Death from Above"||3:37|
|11.||"Salt and Shadow"||6:08|
To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere adapted from CD liner notes.
- Steven Aguilar – engineering
- Ted Jensen – mastering at Sterling Sound, NYC
- Ian MacGregor – engineering
- Mike Orr – guitar tech
- Eric Palmquist – production, engineering and mixing at Palmquist Studios
- Colin "Gravy" Strahm – drum tech
- Christopher Royal King (This Will Destroy You) – art direction, design and artwork
|Australian Albums (ARIA)||57|
|Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)||33|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)||148|
|Canadian Albums (Billboard)||20|
|German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)||35|
|Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)||35|
|UK Albums (OCC)||62|
|US Billboard 200||15|
|US Vinyl Albums (Billboard)||1|
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