With a recently released EP, and some rare live work undertaken, THVS have stumbled back into the spotlight. Chris Owens want to know what’s taken them so long.
Why the gap between recording and releasing ‘Plague Windows’, and why the even longer gap between releases? th
Matt Crothers (drums): Here’s the deal. When we recorded Plague Widows we were considering it as the first tranche of recordings for a possible album/mini album maybe.
Personal circumstances dictated that path couldn’t be followed to its final conclusion as we had originally planned and a period of time elapsed in the interim that altered our ultimate end goal with those songs.
Essentially they started as one thing but ended up as another as is often the case in life. The songs in many respects became their namesake, ‘Plague Widows.’
The gap between releases is linked to those personal circumstances in part and also some other factors. We want to be able to play to support anything we do release therefore we will wait until we are in a position to do that before we put something out in the public domain.
But in short, we had songs recorded, we were back In a position to play and therefore it was time to bother people’s happiness again with our mid 90’s nu-metal worship!
Where does ‘Plague Windows’ stand for, in the general evolution of THVS? Is it already out of date, is it a new direction?
MC: It is a snap shot, a glimpse and a little reminder of a point in time in the evolution and continued journey of the band. The songs are very much relevant to where we are now and where we are going on one level.
They are definitely related to our first release. Maybe not siblings but second cousins or something like that. They share the same fibres of DNA. The songs…are both backwards referencing yet forward looking to the next chapter…The product of the situation taking external influences into account.
Dave Boyd (bass): I don’t think ‘Plague…’ is outdated in terms of the band’s sound, but it does seem to be constantly evolving. To me the new sits well with the old, we still play songs from the first EP when we play live and they don’t seem out of place.
The three of us share a lot of musical influence, but there is a fair bit of difference there too. But somehow it all seems to come together and work. Still can’t get the guys to throw an auld Viking metal riff or Fear Factory cover in mind you.
Michael Smyth (guitar/vocals): It’s the same with any recording: it’s as it was on that day, really it’s nothing more or less. By the time we recorded those three songs we already had another 4 sitting waiting. It’s just what we decided to give y’all at that current moment.
We’re sharks ya know, we gotta keep swimming otherwise we die.
No one wants to stand still and repeat repeat repeat. So we keep pushing on. Keep trying to get outta the gunges stage and grow fingers and toes.
Those songs fit in along side everything else we’ve written before and after cause, ultimately, it’s me, Dave and Matt playing and no matter if it’s a 2 minute heads down stomper or a 19 minute post rock beard scratcher or a 3 and a half minute pop song, it’ll always sound like us. We can’t help it nor would we want to.
The cover is quite striking, like Dario Argento doing an X Files episode. Are you developing a “thread” for artwork, or does it depend on what you see when you hear the finished mix?
MC: What can we say, we’re big Mulder and Scully fans. Gillian Anderson still rates high in my opinion and on various levels.
We write songs and compile riffs, lyrics and beats etc which may eventually be used as songs and at the same time we compile images and visuals which we might use at some point as part of the visual representation for the music.
Despite our end goal for the songs changing from what was originally envisaged, they have a particular theme and the artwork was chosen and manipulated to match what we were trying to convey with those songs. We like to compile a coherent package if we can.
MS: Developing threads? I’ve always wanted my own clothing line. All those metal core bands had clothing lines, I’m bringing that back. I’m gonna put out a range of high end satin jackets, possibly a scent. “Eau de THVS.”
It’ll smell like sweat, bad choices and regret. It’ll be made by wringing out our respective t-shirts after each show. Maybe we’ll give samplers out with the CD’s. Genius.
Other than that, I think various things influence the art and that everything should be one coherent package and Chris Carter is gonna executive produce our next release…roll titles…
Recent gigs have been with the likes of Maw and Molarbear. Do you feel a kinship with bands like these, even though they’re arguably more metallic in their approach (certainly in the case of Molarbear)?
MC: …those guys…are great. They punt a more metallic vibe but I think we maybe come from the same sonic arc albeit differing parts. I think we share various aspects in approach and have a similar outlook on things and attitude.
There seem to be less and less bands who share a similar mindset and outlook these days compared to yesteryear so it’s good to play with bands that we can relate to on some level when we can…Maw…are cool folks…
Duellists were meant to play both shows but circumstances conspired against them and they couldn’t do either which was a shame as they are great guys and do good work.
THVS have been on the go in some shape or form since 2015. With the comment about bands not sharing a similar outlook, and thinking about a comment Michael made where he said “playing to anyone is never easy and Belfast feels like screaming at a wall”, does that mean THVS have been more reluctant to play live these days?
MS: Serious answer, things are very different now. We played as and when we could for awhile and in that time things have changed. Sometimes playing anywhere feels like screaming at a wall normally because I do scream and there are in fact walls. But you get up and do it because you love it.
We love it. We’ll just keep playing as and when we can, we want to play more it’s just those opportunities are few and far between in terms of what’s available. We make our own opportunities but that brings its own risks.
Is an album in the works?
MC: …an album is being worked on at present. when it’s due is up in the air but it will happen. We just want to make sure it’s as strong a set of songs as possible from start to finish.
We write songs and then we write more and some that we write that we think are for an album end up being passed over for better songs that form during that process.
It’s a process of refinement. At the same time we sometimes will write songs together based on a riff or beat or bass line that comes out of the jam room off the cuff and it comes together in a single practice or two and you know that it’s a keeper.
Those sort of songs we don’t polish. We keep them as spiky and as close to the initial idea and conception point as much as possible in order to try and capture the energy. I think ‘Neon Demons’…was such a song that came from Dave’s bass line.
We kept it short and to the point. Cut the fat. We have a few of those which we know are definites for the album when it happens. All big singles ready for people’s listening displeasure!
MS: Much like Columbus we’re exploring some new ideas, things grow and other things wither and die. Sift the wheat from the chaff. We’ve already got a title though so that’s the main thing. To be honest I’m tempted just to call it ‘THUS’ THVS – THUS.
Neon Demons is the best song on the EP. I love how you and Dave just lock in and attack.
MC: It’s a banger. I think you mentioned…Motorhead in your review…in respect of that song. That was exactly my thoughts when Dave played the bass line the first time in practice. Balls out power trio stuff.
This is why, for me, it’s frustrating to see THVS develop at such a pace. The pedigree is there. The intent is there. The ideas are there, but the pace is off. Obviously, as you said, that’s down to life getting in the way. But it is a shame.
MC: Good things come to those who wait!
DB: I think it’s fair to say the infrequency of things has been in no small part to me not being in the country a lot over the past couple of years. But even thousands of miles apart, the band was still working on ideas, refining riffs, and making plans for future awesomeness.
-Christopher Owens ::: 23/08/18