Geoff Rickly could stand to shed some girth because, to be honest, he's overweight. It's something he's cool with, though. The fact that the Thursday frontman's packing on the pounds indicates he's making positive progress, that his body's righting itself after months of internal stomach bleeding brought on by an allergic reaction to a medication he'd been taking for epilepsy.
"This medicine I was taking was ripping up my stomach lining," Rickly explained. "At first, the doctor thought it could be stomach cancer. But I just had to change medicines. For a few months, though, it seemed like I was going to die. I was bruising easily, because I was bleeding a lot internally. Every night when I would sing, my throat would start to bruise up. It felt like this really weird unraveling of my body. But when we get back on tour, I'll lose [the extra weight]."
This won't be for a while, at least not until next summer. By then, Thursday will have had a chance to record and release the follow-up to 2003's War All the Time, which they're about to start recording at producer Dave Fridmann's Tarbox Road Studios in Fredonia, New York.
Rickly had been toying with A City by the Light Divided for the album's title, an idea he's since abandoned given everything the band has gone through over the last eight months. "There were separations and marriages in the band; there were some substance-abuse problems going on in the band," he said. "There was just a lot of stuff going on, and all of us were feeling them to different degrees. Making it through those problems gave a real fire to the band again" (see "Despite Everything They Said, Thursday Aren't Breaking Up").
Likewise Rickly explained that much of the material Thursday have written over the past year — 16 tracks in all — will see some drastic changes before being put to tape. The band made this known on its Web site when six of the new demo recordings, which some kids had stolen out of the studio, surfaced on peer-to-peer file-sharing sites. Only one of the tracks, "At This Velocity," won't be touched and will appear on the disc pretty much as is.
The bulk of the songs were written in an apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey, where Thursday had been living since earlier this year. "Those [leaked] demos happened before a lot of this personal strife was resolved," he said. "So I kind of feel like even those songs have a new fire to them now, and now they're about new things. If you're writing about one set of things, and then life happens, it's like, 'Well, this doesn't really matter anymore to me.'
"With War All the Time, I had the name of the record and a lot of the song [titles] before we started writing," he continued. "Now I'm trying to wait until they develop a little more. You write something about one thing, like, 'I think this is a love song.' But then you realize that it's actually about trust. But then it becomes about trust with one specific person. And the trust issue is actually more of a drug issue."
One thing's for sure: Rickly has no plans to repeat the disconsolate, austere tone of War with the new disc. "It's not going to be a shiny, happy record, but I'm learning to sort of put things in perspective better," he said. "War All the Time is just such a vacuum of a record, and when I listen to [2001's] Full Collapse now, I hear all this hope that used to be there, and I'm sort of finding that again. I feel better. I don't feel like I'm dying. And I'm psyched about finding all the good stuff in life, even through all the tragedy and disaster.
"This record feels like a different strain of the same virus," Rickly continued. "I think a lot of the sounds are going to be fairly different. Where War was kind of claustrophobic, and we wanted to cram a density into each song, a lot of these new songs have a lot more room to them: a grandness."
Rickly can't wait to start working with Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Weezer), he said — and apparently, the feeling's mutual.
"He's pretty amazing, and already, the few suggestions he's made have really made some of our songs come together," he said. "When we played the stuff for him, he flipped about it. ... We just really hit it off with him."
According to Rickly, Thursday have some radical ideas they're going to test out with their new record. "I can't give it away yet, but we have one thing planned that I don't think anyone's ever done on a record," the frontman teased. "We're going to involve other bands in a way that's never been done before — there'll be some special guests, but it's not going to be in the way that guests usually appear, coming in and singing a few lines. It's going to be more like when artists collaborate on something."
He hopes to get Daryl Palumbo (Glassjaw, Head Automatica) involved, he said, as well as someone he's worked with before: My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way.
"I sort of helped My Chem start their whole thing up [Rickly produced the band's 2002 debut, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love], and now that they're huge, I don't want to exploit that," Rickly said. "He's a friend of mine, and if it ended up seeming exploitative — like he did something with us and the label wanted to use it as a single — it would be too weird."
When it comes to My Chem's success, Rickly said he knew all along the band would make a significant impact.
"I remember one time in the studio, saying to Gerard, 'Dude, seriously, you know how much bigger you're going to be than Thursday?' and he started blushing and being like, 'Stop it, dude, I have confidence. You don't need to tell me ridiculous stuff like that,' " he said. "Now, I call him, and I'm like, 'Remember when I told you that?' I just had no idea it was going to be this big."