From left: Teppei Teranishi, Eddie Breckenridge, Riley Breckenridge, Dustin Kensrue.
Thrice isn’t the type of band that cultivates drama. Since forming in southern California in 1998, they haven’t had any member changes, nor have they been spotted on TMZ sucking face with internet celebrities or abusing hotel rooms (unless you count hogging Wi-Fi bandwidth to play World of Warcraft). The focus of this largely insular four-piece has always been the music. But the band’s seventh album, Major/Minor, almost never came out due to personal tragedies the band endured during the writing process.
“I thought this record wouldn’t get finished at several points,” guitarist Teppei Teranishi admits from the Seattle area, where he recently relocated. “At multiple points during the writing of this record it was like, ‘Okay, maybe we need to take a few months off now’—it was pretty up and down like that.” Thrice were only a few months into the writing process when drummer Riley Breckenridge and his brother, bassist Eddie Breckenridge, found out that their father was diagnosed with stage IV cancer in his throat and tongue. Soon after, Teranishi’s mother was diagnosed with stage IV cancer as well. Then, last year, while the band was on tour with Manchester Orchestra, guitarist and vocalist Dustin Kensrue’s father was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor that forced the band to drop off the tour so he could fly home immediately.
“I’ll admit that it was really hard to focus during those initial sessions because I was terrified of my phone ringing and having my mom give me bad news,” Riley says. Earlier this year, both Teranishi’s mother and the Breckenridges’ father passed away, and after taking some time off to be with their families, Thrice reunited and finished the writing process for Major/Minor at their former studio located in Teranishi’s detached garage in Orange, CA. They then recorded it at Red Bull Studio in Santa Monica. The album’s title was initially based on the fact that the aggressive opener, “Yellow Belly,” shifts from major to minor keys, but Teranishi explains that the band’s own personal travails also inevitably tie into the title. “What’s happened to us really made us take a look at what’s major and what’s minor in life, in the sense of what’s important and what really matters.”