The New Jersey post-hardcore band Thursday is a case study in the difficulty of navigating the lines between punk and pop. In the early aughts, when every major label was scrambling for new rock saviors, Thursday took the occasion to make an acrimonious split with indie Victory Records for Island Records, who hoped the band would usher in a golden age of arena-ready emo. But Thursday's byzantine riffing and singer Geoff Rickly's feral yelps on the 2003 album "War All the Time" and its 2006 follow-up proved a touch obtuse for mainstream rock tastes, and now the band is set to release its newest and possibly densest album yet, "Common Existence," next week on Epitaph Records. We talked with Rickly about dizzying label politics, how growing older changes your taste in hard music and imagining a Thursday tribute to avant-garde jazz saxophonist John Zorn. The band plays the Hollywood Palladium on Saturday as part of the Taste of Chaos tour.
Your band has been through a lot of career cycles in recent years: buzzing underground act, the big rock hope of a major label, a later return to an indie label. Has it been difficult to keep your bearings on songwriting given these big swings in label politics and expectations on Thursday?
It's a funny thing. We've always maintained a very strict stance of, "It's our music. No label politics or business pressures should have any influence on how we write." This seems to be a pretty common ethic that most "punk" bands live by. The thing that you never hear about, though, is the way your writing naturally changes when you even acknowledge pressure from outside sources. You become self-conscious. You start to write from a reactionary position in which you lose a lot of your own drives and concentrate on not becoming what other people want you to.