Sometimes when it rains, it pours, and sometimes when it pours, people get struck by lightning. In July, Thursday's tour van was, indeed, struck by lightning, but that was like a flick on the shoulder compared to the ordeal frontman Geoff Rickly endured one night a year ago when he was living in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The nightmare experience informed the dissonant, textural Thursday song "Division Street," which will likely be the next single from the band's turbulent new album War All the Time (see "Thursday Deal With Paranoia, Women Who Want To Be Hit On New LP"). The evening described in the song started out when Rickly discovered that a group of his close friends were using heavy drugs. After leaving their house in disgust, the singer was mugged and stabbed in the leg. Then things really turned ugly.
"My parents were out of the country, so I went to someone I thought I could turn to," Rickly recalled. "The reason I moved to New Brunswick was to be with this girl, and when I went to find her for help, she was with this other guy. So the whole song is about how it can sometimes seem like your whole world is coming apart and you find out that everything you thought you knew is not how you thought it was."
As bleak and despairing as the song's genesis was, "Division Street" isn't entirely negative. As Rickly explained, there's a tremendous strength to be found in overcoming such extreme adversity.
"It gives you an unbelievable freedom because you realize that no matter how bad things get, you're going to be OK," he said. "And that it gives you perspective on people hurting you, in a way. You know what it's like to be hurt, and how bad it feels, but you can still live your life fully with lots of love and joy."
The music for "Division Street" was largely influenced by Icelandic ambient group Sigur Rós. "It actually almost didn't get recorded," Rickly said. "I'd been showing it to the guys, and they were only mildly interested. But then we saw Sigur Rós at Radio City Music Hall, and they just blew us away. So the next day, we started recording "Division Street" and decided to bring in some of their noisy qualities into our music."
Another candidate for the second single is the ringing, melodic title track "War All the Time," which Rickly wrote about growing up in New Jersey. The song recounts three distinct phases of the singer's life, and is presented like a disconcerting art film.
"I tried to model it after the movie 'Magnolia,' " Rickly said. "The first part is about moving to the town I grew up in where one of my friend's brothers fell off the top of this cliff, and a bunch of his friends committed suicide. There was a hush over the town for a whole year, with everyone just not knowing why it happened."
The second section of "War all the Time" is more upbeat, addressing Rickly's discovery of music and his assimilation within the punk rock community. And the final scene examines the booby-trapped minefield of love and how it can cause normal people to lose their confidence and sense of self.
"The more you grow up, the more you grow away from who you really are," Rickly said. "But it's not really negative. It's more about compassion, and how love runs through everybody, and it's kinda dreaming that one day everyone will experience happiness."
Thursday came up with the rhythm and melody for "War all the Time" during soundcheck when the band was on tour. It was one of those moments when a songwriter holds up a lightning rod and divine inspiration strikes.
"Our guitarist Tom [Keeley] kept playing this one part over and over again, so [drummer] Tucker [Rule] started playing all different kinds of beats to it and Steve [Pedulla], our other guitar player, started playing these beautiful, glistening guitar parts," Rickly remembered. "It came together so organically and we realized it was something that could have been in 'The Hours' soundtrack, which is when we came up with the idea of building the song like a movie."
Thursday will remain on tour with Thrice and Coheed and Cambria through November 23 in Hartford, Connecticut, after which they'll join the Deftones through December 12 in Davis, California.