SXSW Watchlist: The Thermals

thermals We were fortunate enough to catch up with The Thermals just before they head off to Austin to play a ridiculous amount of shows at SXSW.  We discussed what the band was looking forward to on their venture South, as well as thoughts on moving to a new label in preparation for their release of Now We Can See on Kill Rock Stars in April.

In a video released last year on, Hutch was playing an acoustic down by the shore of some unknown location. Any intention of ever releasing an entire acoustic album, even if it’s iTunes only? Or tour only?

Just to clarify, it wasn’t for Pitchfork, it was for Takeaway.  Kathy sang and played too.  But no, no plans for any acoustic albums or tours, just yet…

Once again, you find yourself with a new drummer.  Is it due to your dissatisfaction with previous drummers or is it that the world of Hutch and Kathy is just too hard to break into?

Our last two drummers left to pursue other projects, not due to any dissatisfaction on our part. Unless you count Kathy. Kathy played bass and drums on our last two records. After we finished each record, Kathy fired herself from drums and went back to bass full-time. We are quite pleased with our new drummer, Westin Glass. But yeah, I wouldn’t want to break in to the world of Hutch and Kathy if I wasn’t in it already, it can’t be easy.

It seemed you really got a lot of support and patience from Sub Pop Records. Are there any fears going forward with a new label? Any benefits?

We definitely had a great relationship with Sub Pop and still do. There’s an amount of fear that comes with each record we make. You never know how it will be received and what kind of exposure it will get, no matter what label puts it out. So far everything has gone well with Kill Rock Stars, and of course there are benefits. We wouldn’t have switched labels unless we thought it was in our best interest.

The sounds of the Northwest music have been shrouded in some sort of noise since the scene began to grow. Your lo-fi tendencies are well documented, but no real influences have been named? Care to share who paved the way for The Thermals?

That would be Mudhoney, Nirvana, The Wipers, Built to Spill, Bikini Kill, Team Dresch, Unwound, Eric’s Trip, Sebadoh. Note that all these bands are from the northwest, and most made records with Sub Pop or Kill Rock Stars.

This is your fourth proper full length with The Thermals. What are your expectations as a group with both the recording of the new album, and its eventual release?

We’re trying to grow with each record we make, and we’re trying to write the best songs we can. When we feel we’ve done this, we release a record. When the record is released, we hope people like it, praise it in print, and pay money for copies of it.

What is the best way, in your opinion, for a band to reach their intended audience nowadays? Is it word of mouth, blogs, traditional media or college radio? Which do you prefer?

Word of mouth is always strong, this is true for so many things in the world. I would say blogging could be considered word of mouth as well. Lately I hear about bands on either Pandora or Pitchfork.

You guys are playing all over SXSW this year, with several day shows already released to the masses. Are you scared to play that many shows in a short span, or do you plan to be as drunk as the rest of us?

Not scared, and not nearly as drunk as you.

You’ve visited Austin in the past, not just for SXSW, but other tours as well. Are there any must haves when you come to visit our town? Staple restaurants perhaps?

I like the sushi bar that’s around the corner from Emo’s, I don’t know the name. First place I ever did a sake bomb.

SXSW is one of the year’s most prominent festivals, and as Austinites we love it, but as a band coming to play, is there anything you aren’t looking forward to at the festival?

I will steer clear of anything I don’t like about the festival, like long lines for shows I don’t really care about… we are playing eight shows so I will probably just watch bands at those shows, then kick back at the pool the rest of the time.

The Thermals play Thursday, March 19th @ Red Eyed Fly @ 10 PM.  Not to mention other places like Terrorbird/ForceField Day Party and Mess With Texas.

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