Dustin Kensrue plays guitar and sings. But perhaps his biggest accomplishment is beating Game Boy's Frogger not once, twice, but three times - or thrice. When looking for a name, that inside joke was the best option.
Kensrue and guitarist Teppei Teranishi formed a band in high school. Teppei looking beyond the video screen recruited his skate park friend Eddie Breckenridge to play bass, who then brought his brother Riley on as a drummer.
In '99, the band self-released the EP "First Impressions." That means they distributed it anywhere they could - at gigs, out of their car trunk or to girls they were trying to impress. These haphazard efforts led to recording an album, "Identity Crisis," for Greenflag Records in '02. The album was re-issued by Hopeless/Sub City.
02's "The Illusion Of Safety" was Thrice's first genuine Hopeless/Sub City album. Positive reviews and some healthy sales led Thrice to Island Records (a major label).
The group opened for Coheed And Cambria before recording '03 "The Artist In The Ambulance" with the singles "All That's Left" and "Stare At The Sun." Both songs and their videos got play but nothing spectacular - even so, Thrice embarked on a co-headlining tour with Thursday.
If We Could Only See Us Now, a CD/DVD package outlining the group's career to date arrived in '04 as they hit Vans Warped Tour.
Much of '05 was spent working on "Vheissu" which was released in October. The title was taken from the Thomas Pynchon novel V - an overly long and convoluted work - an English major's nightmare. The album's lyrics delved into biblical, spiritual, and abstract themes with lead with the single "Image Of The Invisible," followed by "Red Sky." The group headlined the '06 Taste Of Chaos Tour.
OK, now it's time for the concept album, or albums, as the case may be. The idea was to create four EPs representing an element of nature (please stop watching An Inconvenient Truth!): earth, air, fire and water. Island seemed to have a problem with this rather heady adventure so the group moved to Vagrant Records where they released "The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II: Fire & Water" in '07. It sold 28,000 copies in its first week to land at #24 on the album charts. A year later the second and concluding album, The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV: Air & Earth" arrived. Oddly, the set sold more a little over 21,000 units in its first week but that was enough to land at #17 on the Billboard chart.
Thrice's premiere efforts are "The Artist In The Ambulance" and "Vheissu." The post-hardcore group provides more textual variety and time/tempo variations than their contemporaries. On these two albums the excesses are kept in check.
When it comes to the elements: fire, water, air and earth - go with fire. Of the four "Alchemy Index" EPs 'Fire' is the only one that really works. With that said, "Vols. I & II" (Fire & Water) are flat out better than the often diffuse and meandering later volumes ("Air & Earth").