If there's been one upside to the past few months of turmoil and learning to live with new rules, it's that many bands have gone out of their way to create in new and inventive ways. For post-hardcore bunch Thousand Below, that means an EP featuring stripped-down versions of songs from 2019 album 'Gone In Your Wake', plus a brand new track to boot. Josh Billimoria (bass) tells us more.
Hi JB, how's it going? Are you having a good summer?
We are lucky enough to live in San Diego, CA, so the weather has been great so far this summer. It's been about as good as it can get considering the lockdown situation we're all in.
What does a typical day look like for you at the moment, is lockdown mucking up your lives much?
Right now we don't have much going on at all. Lockdown has been a pretty big bummer as we had a bunch of great tours planned that have now all been either postponed or cancelled. A typical day for me is usually wasting a bunch of time on Twitter and Reddit in the morning, trying to work on a new song in the afternoon, and then watching a bunch of Naruto until I get tired enough to fall asleep. I was really productive and exercising all the time when lockdown first started, but the longer it goes on the worse I get haha.
It's great you've got a new release coming, what first sparked the idea for 'let go of your love'?
We had originally talked about doing some acoustic songs at the end of last year. Josh and I wrote about six original acoustic ideas, but they never really went any farther than that. I rewrote one of the songs when lockdown started, and it became the title-track 'Let Go Of Your Love'. I had also gotten more into messing around with programming and electronic sounds, and that took up most of my time in the first month of quarantine. I made the remixed piano version of "Lost Between" and sent it to the guys. Everyone was into the idea, but we also wanted to do a couple that were just straight acoustic guitar, which ended up being 'Alone' and '171xo'. The last song I did for the EP was 'Chemical', and I took more of a dance remix approach to that one. We also got our good friend Sumner from the band Dead Lakes to feature on the song, and he wrote a whole new bridge to put a different spin on it.
Did you go through many different iterations of the songs before you hit on these particular versions?
Josh originally tried writing the '171' acoustic version but wasn't having much luck getting it to where we wanted. I did my own version in a completely different way which came out how we had heard it in our heads when we decided it should be one of the songs. I also had a pretty hard time with 'Chemical' at first. Originally it was more of a slow piano thing like lost between. Eventually, I made it more active and upbeat, and it came together pretty quickly once I changed directions.
Has stripping them back caused you to look at any of the tracks a little differently than before?
When I was rewriting the songs, I went through all the individual stem tracks and found a bunch of little layers that I had completely forgotten were there. It's interesting listening to the original versions of songs and being able to hear all these layers now that I'm aware of them again. The guest feature Sumner added to 'Chemical' really changed the song and we all love it way more now haha.
Were there any tracks you made for this that ended up on the cutting room floor?
After we decided we wanted to do five songs and Rise was on board, we had a pretty short time frame to get it turned in so we could have Kris Crummett mix and master. If there had been more time, I would've tried a few other tracks, but I'm happy with what ended up on the EP. I had thought about trying an acoustic version of 'No Place Like You' from our first record. I couldn't come up with an idea I was happy with in the end though so we kept the EP as all songs from 'Gone In Your Wake'. I also thought it would be funny to do a super heavy deathcore version of 'Edge Of Your Bed' since that was already an acoustic song, but that definitely wouldn't have fit the vibe of the EP.
Do you guys usually work remotely, or was this a new thing for you?
This was a totally new experience for us. In the past, Josh and I would get together and work on the songs collaboratively and then go record at a studio with a producer once we had the songs finished. Since we weren't able to get together in lockdown, I sent out my rough versions of the songs to Josh, and he decided they were good as is. He is much better at guitar, so he recorded all of the acoustic parts with our friend Tyler Ruehl. We sent all the finished instrumentals over to James, and he recorded the vocals at his house. Josh did some lead singing for the first time on the bridge of '171xo'. I also recorded some harmony vocals once James was done with all his parts. This is the first release where all three of us sing on it, which I think we will continue to experiment with in the future.
What's next for you lot?
We've been writing a ton for our third record and already have a bunch of songs we're really stoked on. Other than that, hopefully, we can get back to touring as soon as possible!
Taken from the September issue of Upset. Thousand Below's new EP 'let go of your love' is out now.
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