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Alan Averill

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Thine | Interview

A few months back, Thine won the Album Of The Month slot on this website for their new album ‘The Dead City Blueprint’.

Why? Well, because to a certain vintage of metal fan, it represents the best of many worlds.

They’re a quintessential Peaceville band for a start. And they manage to fuse dark rock and metal into a perfectly mature set of songs that keep their impact. Bottom line is that you have to hear it.

Alan and Paul from the band explain more about the labour of love that only took them eleven years to come up with.


I’ve referred to this as the album Anathema never made, and I’m sure that’s not the only time you’ll hear it. The influence is clear as day. Was there a special moment around ‘Judgement’ in terms of your own influences?

ALAN: All their previous releases have some great tracks on them but ‘The Silent Enigma’, ‘Eternity’ and ‘Alternative 4’ are my preferred albums. I enjoy the progression in Vinnie’s voice. Personally I stopped listening to Anathema from ‘Judgement’ onwards (it was around this time I walked completely away from music for a while). Any influence for me is possibly more subconscious vocally than overtly.

It’s not unreasonable to be compared to them, there is no doubt that we do fill a gap that bands like Anathema have moved on from which could bode well for us. I’d just like Anathema / Katatonia not to be a strong reason for our existence in the public eye, nor does anyone want to be another Anvil.

PAUL: Have seen a couple of people mention it, but Anathema hasn’t been an (conscious, at least) influence on this album at all. They were more, somewhat, around the time of writing the ‘In Therapy’ songs I remember, and our evolution back then towards emotional rock or whatever we should call it.

It’s an album made from becoming absorbed in composing to act as a catalyst, not listening to other bands. It’s understandable that Judgement is a release people would reference though when defining how we are. Just happens that our stylistic point of evolution now is in ways similar to theirs was then.

So yes, Judgement was decent enough, but probably ‘Eternity’ & ‘Alternative 4’ had more influence in shaping something within the band, going back a long long time. Always liked ‘Pentecost III’ myself.

An 11 year gap between albums is nuts. What took you so long – had the band been consigned to history, or was it bubbling away all that time? What kickstarted it?

ALAN: We all have our own story and reasons for loitering, life is the main reason of course, life runs so quickly you can forget where you were going, sometimes you fight and others you accept the flow.

When we came back together it seemed like we had all done what we needed to do for ourselves and had it led to talking about getting closure, filling the void, answering some old issues/doubts/questions.

Dan, the ever motivational catalyst, organised a few beers at a local then we had a rehearsal, then recorded a few tracks, then the monster came alive again and you know the rest.

PAUL: It felt like it would always happen & we actually never split as far as I was concerned, but time just flew & life responsibilities came along. We were playing shows for a few years, but then band activity went fairly quiet for periods.

But personally I just kept writing, & old songs got replaced by new ones as the years rolled by, so it is not as if time was wasted, in an evolutionary sense.

Dan had actually left the band for several years & our current bassist was our drummer for a time, and so when he rejoined around 2008 it kind of started up again with more momentum from there. Then in late 2010 (I think, or 2011…told you time flies) we made a ‘proper’ studio demo as a real push towards a new album & then some trouble came along, and it all worked out in the end.

Do you sort of you know you’re resigned to always being a cult band, intensely loved by a few and unknown by the rest?

ALAN: Don’t cult bands do well these days? Maybe we’ll have a moment when it’s chic to be into us then drift off into mild obscurity again. Although, actually…. If it’s hip to be cult these days then I’d rather be famous and tour the world in huge sell out stadiums offering the world our version of melancholy, surely that’s the far more cult thing to do these days hehehe.

In truth it’s humbling to have the great fans that we do have and as you say their passion is far more intense and honest. It’s also amazing to get opportunities to play with bands like Devin Townsend and Anathema and have people walk up to us and say they really enjoyed their first experience of Thine, it’s for these reasons you weigh up the costs and run with it.

The perfect outcome of our status would mean the band can keep on with their daily lives and head out on short tours 2-3 times a year, I don’t think we could afford the finance or time for real touring…… Don’t cult bands get decent festival slots….?? cough, cough.

PAUL: I guess we are considered relatively unknown even after 3 albums, especially to say how well received we are on disc and live. It happens though. The thing about existence is that it should not need to be legitimised.

It would be nice if awareness of us was better, but in the grand scheme of things it is nobody’s gain or loss – the world keeps turning, regardless. At least we’ve had some profound influence on the lives of some individuals, which is comforting to know.

It’s a fairly challenging album; not necessarily musically, but in what it encapsulates. Quite a dark album but not one with a sense of gothic bravado or romanticised melodrama to draw people. Not a feel-good album, nor is it glossy role-play escapism. It’s reflective.

I can see why it can be hard work to some, when all they want is something to help them forget their problems, not exacerbate them, haha. Not really conjured for the sake of entertainment, & arguably not even for the sake of art, so for those who appreciate that it exists, then great; for those who don’t, then there’s other music to soothe the woes of your life.

How important is the link to metal to you guys? It would be easy to leave it behind, to ‘mature’. Yet ‘Flame To The Oak’ is very definitely from the underground – linking to Agalloch etc. Don’t you feel like you’ve outgrown it?

ALAN: I don’t listen to a great deal of music these days, I’m far too cult and elite haha. Honestly though I fell out of love with music, things get boring very quickly when you learn how the carving knife cuts and everyone turns into chefs rather than just making great food. Whether we would fit on a stage like Bloodstock? I think so but on the fringes maybe.

This is our main issue at the moment, who do we play to? Our recent Anathema support in Holland was perfect for everyone, I only wish we had the finances to take that further.

Metal, it’s a broad family and in the majority an accepting one. Our roots do lie a lot in the metal scene so it’ll always be there in some form or another. I love our rock out moments, on stage it adds to the dynamics well, the soft and the harsh, the light and the dark, the saw and the scalpel.

PAUL: A youngster unleashed on an instrument tends to want to express him/herself with energy over experience, and is often driven by some angst or sense of restriction to react against, whereas I think as an adult I’d say personally it becomes more refined as you’re more at ease with yourself and the workings of the world (usually), using different ways of conveying feelings & moods.

Not really a case of maturing & outgrowing it though – just a broadening of tools/paints perhaps, but you can see why some extreme metal bands aren’t a patch on how they were as teenagers when applying that theory.

Links with metal concerning Thine’s music aren’t important for us, but they never truly were anyway. We were never restricted right from the start. Metal was often the best tool available, but never the over-riding focus; from the early days, to the demos, to the first album, we were always listening to other music, & for us back then, Ship of Fools & GGFH existed right alongside Ved Buens Ende and Burzum.

What was the inspiration for ‘To the Precipice’? You’ve nailed that extraordinarily difficult space between melancholy and content – one of the hardest things in music.

ALAN: When I first heard the raw recordings from Paul the track just felt right. We struggled with the vocals initially on it until one day Paul came back after a brainwave, the vocals were laid down pretty rapidly after that.

For most of the album the vocals were about getting across Paul’s writing, the lyrics for this track came later in the recording session once a lot of work had been done, the feeling of content no doubt comes from that feeling of nearing your destination having looked back at the continent traversed but knowing that uncertainty still lies ahead. It’s one of those songs that had instant appeal with us as the ‘popular’ track.

PAUL: I think that at the time the new songs needed something a little more upbeat, & not something with the soft/loud verse chorus thing either. Just driving & consistent. It’s meant to be uplifting, like a ‘pick-me-up’, but I think it formed initially as almost like a mantra around the chorus message.

It’s channelling optimism you could say, ha, & I thought it was something quite universal in its meaning in regard to distance and hope. The energy hopefully brings about some of that feeling of a change always being around the corner, but ultimately that life’s still like walking the wrong way against a moving escalator.

How important is your Peaceville heritage – and do you have to convince people that really still matters these days? (in days gone by it meant an instant purchase – has the world changed?)

ALAN: I still consider some businesses to be reliable names although they are far fewer on the ground these days. I think the main issue here is our status, working with people who know about us makes a lot of sense and it’s only recently we’ve been getting ‘tagged’, ‘labelled’, I’ll quote the classic Terrorizer review from the 90’s – “Trying to pigeon-hole Thine is as easy as weaving with fog”, Peaceville have a loom that works for us.

PAUL: It was a great achievement for us personally to get the deal with Peaceville. And sure the world has changed, & the industry is not as it was in many regards, but it’s still all in the perception concerning media.

Just because labels have full page ads and now often pay money to just get their bands featured in magazines, doesn’t mean the bands are selling, but as long as it portrays to the readers that this is the ‘in thing’ so you’ve got to get on board like everybody else is (seemingly) doing or miss out, then it achieves its purpose in that sense.

Certain labels probably still mean instant purchases – doesn’t mean what you’re being sold is any good, haha. Hell, I’ve even done it in the early 90s. Pretty much everything you ever do is buying into a dream is it not, then reality follows.

It’s a grown up album of grown up concerns. When’s your next one?

ALAN: Grown-up concerns, is that a prelude to mid-life crisis? If we look at the period between albums and stick with the pattern then at least 30+ years hehe. In my mind we’ve got some catching up to do, this album is still fresh in peoples minds but new material keeps popping up in rehearsals between set practice.

PAUL: Have got 15 new songs currently (well, a few are from 2010/11), which we’ll go through later in the year, but it’s possible some of it is not really Thine material so I’ll just keep those to myself if that’s the case. It is not as much from the perspective of limbo and numbness this (next) time though.

Still asking existential questions & an exploration of mortality, & still this uplifting melancholy as I call it, but a little more light in the room perhaps from here-on. Even more uplifting generally actually it seems. ‘The Dead City Blueprint’ is probably as bleak as we’ll go.

That was the deconstruction & searching. This is a continuation of passing & renewal from the end of final track ‘Adrift through the Arcane Isles of Recovery’.

– Interview by Earl Grey ::: 28/08/14

One Comment
  1. cheers, promising words near the end

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