The intense and bouncy audiences at The Thermals’ performances a few months ago in Austin were a welcome site to the Portland punk band. South by Southwest was a chance for the band to show off its then-upcoming album, “Desperate Ground,” and crowds at The Parish and Mohawk (and several other Austin venues) careened through the band’s new songs.
And occasionally the band careened right into the crowd. (Singer Hutch Harris and drummer Westin Glass developed a habit of jumping into the audience to jump-start the audience’s energy.)
On Monday, the band will perform at Slowdown. ($12 tickets) with opener Pleasure Adapter. Then on Aug. 17, the band will be on the Maha Music Festival stage. Both shows are quite a way to show some love to the city of the band’s new label.
Omaha’s own Saddle Creek Records released The Thermals’ “Desperate Ground” last month. It’s a record with energy to make you spring from the couch and join the album’s protagonist in his bloody fight.
Before the band set out on its tour, I called bassist Kathy Foster at her home in Portland to talk about the energy contained there and how they created such a kinetic record. (Foster had a lot to do with keeping things high-energy.)
Kevin Coffey: When The Thermals hit the stage, you guys have tons of energy. I was at some of the shows in Austin and Westin and Hutch dove into the crowd. You never stopped moving. Where does the energy come from? Does something click when the show starts?
Kathy Foster: (laughs) For me, something definitely clicks. It also has to do with the music itself. Playing that, you have to have a lot of energy to play it. It’s really energetic music so it pumps you up. It’s kinda this circle of energy.
Personally, I’m a pretty mellow person otherwise. Playing that music and being onstage and interacting with everyone gives me a lot of energy. I think because I’m so mellow, I save up all the other energy or something. (laughs)
Hutch and Westin are both more highly energetic in general. I call them the Zing-Zang Twins. They kind of bounce off the walls sometimes.
We’re a good balance. I’m pretty mellow and they’re the funny goofy guys.
We all enjoy playing together and the music itself gives us that energy. And if the crowd is giving that energy back, it keeps feeding itself back and forth. Those are always my favorite shows.
You never know. Sometimes, the audience doesn’t have that kind of energy and they’re kind of standing there, but the shows where people go crazy, it’s so fun. I feel like we’re all at the same party.
KC: When you recorded “Desperate Ground,” it was just before Hurricane Sandy, right?
KF: Yeah. We were in Hoboken. We were out there for like two weeks. We got out there around the middle of October, and so we didn’t know about Sandy. As we were recording and watching the weather, we saw it was coming towards us. Continue reading