Thursday Break Down Walls -- Literally -- On Common Existence

'We had this challenge to make something that felt more raw and dangerous,' frontman Geoff Rickly says of new album.

After a decade spent shuffling between labels, grinding it out on the road and coming to grips with the whole "screamo" thing, [artist id="1165826"]Thursday[/artist] were itching to blow it all up and start from scratch. And their new album, Common Existence, is proof of that.

"We had this challenge to make something that felt more raw and dangerous, and at the same time, more grown-up, interesting and sonically layered," frontman Geoff Rickly told MTV News. "That's what we've been working on for the past few years. This record is just trying to take what Thursday does and get it away from the blueprint of screamo."

Fair or not, Thursday became saddled with the mantle of "screamo's brightest hopes" after the breakthrough of 2001's Full Collapse and their follow-up, the major-label released War All the Time. And they've spent most of the past four years trying to get out from under the tag, parting ways with Island Records and releasing split-7" records with Japanese hardcore outfit Envy. So, when it came time to make Existence — which hits stores today — they literally built up, and then broke down, walls.

"When we rented our practice space in this warehouse, we got in there and it was so huge, like being in an empty amphitheater. In order to make it more intimate so we could be close to each other and the sound could get really loud and tight, we built walls up, soundproofed it, and painted and hung banners and tried to make it feel like home," Rickly said. "When we finally got out of the studio the last day, we knew we had to give it up, so we went in there with hammers and started breaking down the walls together."

They also began to knock down sonic barriers, too, bashing out songs that drew inspiration from unlikely sources like Sonic Youth and Peter Gabriel and exploring darker, more atmospheric passages. Emboldened by new label Epitaph, they also began to focus more on the political, as evidenced by songs like "Friends in the Armed Forces," which dances neatly between "Pro-America" and "Anti-War."

"I think it's a really false split between the two, because I'm an anti-war person, but I have plenty of friends who are soldiers and I care about them," he explained. "I think trying to make a decision like, 'Oh, you're a pacifist; that means you're anti-soldier and you don't support the troops,' is a terrible lie to put people in the middle of. So this song was about being a pacifist and caring about your friends that are in the armed forces."

And striking that balance — between the rational and the passionate, and finding the commonality in our struggles — is a large portion of what Existence is all about. After all, Thursday have fought their battles — now they're just looking for a little peace.

"I just liked the idea that the record is about the shared existence of people in general. It's not so much 'me, me, me and my personal story,' " Rickly explained. "I feel like so much punk rock right now is turned inward and it's like an outgrowing of emo becoming mainstream music. I really wanted to say it's just the same thing everybody goes through — that's 'common existence.' That's what life is. No one needs to get worked up about it."