At, 42 years old, Riley Breckenridge has more than a few things figured out.
The father of two and drummer for California rock band Thrice — which plays the Ritz Ybor on November 11 with Circa Survive, CHON, and Balance and Compsure — knows that the 30 or 40 minutes of alone time in the morning is valuable, and he spends it running to meditate and catch up on new music.
And while he may not have been able to get weepy to the new Julien Baker record ("I think if I had just been sitting somewhere, then I probably would've got a little weepy, but it's hard to run and cry at the same time," he told CL) he does get a little sentimental when asked about what his new daughter and her older brother add to his life.
"I could talk about this for like three hours, or four hours," Breckenridge said. "Kids give you a sense of optimism because they are so young and impressionable, and they have their whole life ahead of them, and there's so much potential there that it makes you feel, or reconnects you with discovery, and learning, and enthusiasm, and so many emotions that I feel kind of get muted as you get older."
We caught up with Breckenridge before practicing for rehearsals (yes, when you're grown you practice before practice) to talk about family, his World Series projections (he was pretty much right), that new Thrice record and even flatulence (you have to read to see what we mean).
Read our Q&A and get more information on the show below. Listen to Thrice's latest album, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, at the bottom of this post.
Hey Riley, it's Ray from Tampa — how are you?
I'm good man, how are you?
I'm great. Is it okay to talk right now?
Yeah, for sure.
Guessing you are home right now putting the final touches on the set for the Circa Survive tour? Also messing with your kids.
Ha, yea I'm actually at our practice space right now, trying to get in. My last kind of solo day of practicing to my iPod ahead of our rehearsals. We have two rehearsals coming up, so I gotta put in my work on the side to make sure that I am ready to go.
Has that always been the case with you and Thrice? I know you joined after they started, but pretty early on, and you described playing in some shitty punk bands when you were younger before you linked up with Thrice and your brother. Have you always had to work on stuff extra? Like what kind of things do you have to work on before the rest of the guys get there?
Um, it's just, on this tour especially, we're kind of uncovering some stuff that we haven't played live in a while, so going back, listening to those songs, figuring out where my head was at as far as drum parts are concerned. You know, 10 years ago, 12 years ago, 15 years ago, and then trying to kind of mimic that, but also make it feel like the stuff I enjoy playing now kind of feels. So, yeah just getting familiar with old songs again, getting in shape, drumming shape. We've been doing some fly dates, just one-off festival kinds of things, which kind of keeps you sharp, but it's not the same as being on tour for six weeks. We haven't done a tour since July.
And that was the Deftones tour, right?
Yeah. So it's getting in shape, getting familiar with stuff, and making sure that the time we have together as a band to run through these songs isn't wasted by by, or anyone else really, being like, "Oh, wait a minute — how do I play that? What's the next part?," you know?
Yeah, I saw Teppei tabbing some stuff out. What about "Hoods On Peregrine"? I know you really like the way that song is kind of built. Is that coming out of the chest?
No, that one is not on the setlist this time. It is one of my favorite ones to play. I think we played that on one of the headline tours we did after the record came out. I think that was in the set, but it's not on the set this time.
That's cool. I didn't expect to see it. Now To Be Everywhere is a year old, you’re playing Black Honey/Hurricane/Long Defeat/The Window a lot — has the record morphed much for you in the last year after playing it live so much?
Um, I think it's aged pretty well. I'm still happy with what we were able to do with it, and the songs that we've been playing live all feel good to play, and they seem to go over well. I think crowd response to the new stuff has been much more enthusiastic than previous records, which is weird. I feel like it always takes fans a while to kind of warm to a new record, but right out of the gate with this one people were singing along and seemed pretty stoked, so it was cool.
Because you hadn't put a record out in a while, man, they were stoked to have you back.
That probably has a lot to do with it, but, yeah, songs take on a life of their own after they leave the studio whether it's something we made for To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, or something we made forever ago. It's just cool to see which songs kind of, I guess, grow the most when you start playing them live. There isn't a song from the set — especially from the new record right now — where I look down at my setlist, and I'm like, "Oh, this one again?" or like, "Oh, I don't wanna play list one." I truly enjoy playing everything from the new record, so I am pretty stoked to get out there and do it again.
Yeah I think you guys are pretty good at just genuinely enjoying being a band in general. You've never really been the jaded types. You've been able to just be Thrice and enjoy that.
Yeah, I think that we're all incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to do this, and I don't think any of us really thought that it was a possibility when we started this band, so to have been a band for, I guess, almost 18 or 19 years now, which is crazy, it's just insane that we're operating at the level we're operating at. That's insane to me, and it's never lost on me. Like, we're really fortunate to be able to do this, and I think that's why we don't seem jaded. We're just thankful, and kind of amazed that we get to do this.
And sorry to keep asking about the band. I want to ask you so many baseball questions, but you keep asking about the band, which is great because I have questions about the band, too.
And with Thrice being a band that has been cautious of setting goals that are more like small steps forward, what are the band’s ambitions these days? So you’re writing for a new record that you hope is out for the summer — I saw that you are still kind of putting different pieces together, and you definitely put the last Thrice record together is a very efficient way, being an opener gives you a lot of downtime so do you anticipate being able to work on it much since you’re on the road with Circa Survive?
We're actually, surprisingly, pretty productive on tour. I think one of the things that we talked about after the hiatus was trying to manage the amount of time that we spend touring and the amount of time we spend writing and rehearsing. Just trying to be wise about it, and I think part of that goes back to what I was saying about today I'm here doing my homework, so I'm not wasting anybody's time by not knowing, not having my shit together, when we get together. Three of us have kids now, there's other stuff to do. It's not like we're just sitting around waiting to go on tour. We're actually really productive on tour, at the same time there is a lot of discussion about parts on songs, kind of fine-tuning stuff. We got a lot done on that Deftones tour, and I think the plan on this tour is to spend the time when we're not onstage really kind of, not putting the finishing touches on the songs, but getting them to a place where they're almost ready to record.
Okay, and I'm assuming you guys don't know where you're gonna track it or who's gonna produce it yet?
Uh, I don't know if I am allowed to talk about that yet. I for sure don't know where we're gonna track it yet, but I think...
Don't worry about it, if you can't say...
Nah, it's OK. We're gonna work with a producer, but we're also gonna go back to the do it ourselves deal that we did, um, for The Alchemy Index and Beggars. So part of it will be done on our own, part of it will be done with a producer, part of it will be done in kind of a home studio setting, part of it will be done in a legit recording studio or studios. But we're kind of finalizing that schedule, who we're working with, when we're gonna do it right now, actually.
OK. Kind of going back to the ast time you caught up with a Tampa outlet, you were on Cigar City Radio an Alchemy Index repress, but there were some production issues, so you were hoping for something in the first quarter. Is that still on track?
For the Alchemy repress, I think we'll have that before next year.
That's the plan, yeah. And on this tour we're doing a little Alchemy Index suite as a part of the set, like, yeah. It's gonna be kind of the same stuff from the new record, a few older tracks that we haven't played in a while. A song that we've never played live before, and then a little section of the set will be Alchemy Index only, so it's gonna be a cool set, I think.
That is pretty cool. I saw your Astros in 6 prediction, so let’s start with initial take on this World Series and the MLB’s treatment of the World Series as a product and a sporting event in general. Does it kind of chap your ass watching the Dodgers get all this shine, or are you happy because you're selling a lot of Puig Destroyer shirts?
Haha, I'm happy about all of it, really. I really wanted to see this World Series because I felt, kind of from the get-go this year, that both teams were set up to be the best in their league.
Yeah, you called it.
Yeah. That Astros are stacked, and the Dodgers are stacked, too, but in a very bizarre way. A lot of people kind of complain about their payroll, they call them the "West Coast Yankees" and stuff like that.
But the dudes that are doing the damage, aside from, like Kershaw, are all very cheap guys. Like Chris Taylor, Justin Turner, given his output, is fairly affordable, um, Austin Barnes, Kenley Jansen is, like, a former catcher, so there are a lot of really great stories about this Dodgers team, so it's hard to root against them. I picked the Astros in six because I figures they would take one in L.A., which they did, and they play very well at home, and they're playing three games at home now, and I also have a friend who, I think now he's the special assistant to the general manager, but he used to be their head of scouting, so I kind of root for the Astros because I want to see my friend be successful, but I root for the Dodgers, too, because I grew up in Southern California. My dad grew up in L.A., and he was raised on Vin Scully, and he raised me on Vin Scully, so I have a soft spot in my heart for the Dodgers, so I am stoked. No matter which team wins, I'm not gonna be bummed.
I just love that they're great games. Like, game two was incredible.
Yeah, I hated seeing Andrew Friedman leave to go to the Dodgers. I grew up in Canoga Park, so I love, you know, The Lakers, and L.A. teams anyway, but I was so bummed when he left us. Can I switch to a different sport? Like running, running music. Julien Baker, Royal Blood, August Burns Red — two questions, what makes a good running album? Does it just have to be new? Also, why didn’t you cry to the new Julien Baker — are you just a cold, cold person?
Ha, I think if I had just been sitting somewhere, then I probably would've got a little weepy, but it's hard to run and cry at the same time.
You might sprain your ankle.
Yeah, but there were definitely moments on the record where I was like, "Whew, I'm feeling it," but it's a really good record. As far as what I listen to, um, I try to run often enough so I have to listen to stuff that's new. With two kids now, uh, my morning runs are really the only times that I get to listen to the music that I want to listen to at the volume I want to listen to it at, so I use that 30 or 40 minutes to put on a new record or re-visit an old record that I like, and then I just try to share it with people because there are a lot of people out there doing the same thing, and I've been turned on to a lot of really cool bands that I wouldn't even know about if it wasn't for people sharing what they're into, so, you know.
I like that you share that you are a runner, too. I think a lot of times you get caught up in music you think that you can't like sports, or you can't do healthy stuff, or like normal family shit like watch Toy Story and stuff like that.
Is running an exercise in solitude for you — do you know where you’re gonna run when you get to Ybor City?
Um, no, it's an exercise in solitude for the most part. On tour we will do some group runs, like, with the band, um, but, yeah it's just nice for me to get away and kind of lose myself in a record, and then it's healthy. Running is amazing because it's like good for you body, but it's also good for your brain. It's like a weird meditation. I used to freakin' hate running, awful, playing sports, coming up playing sports — football, baseball, soccer, whatever, basketball — running was always punishment.
Like you did something wrong, you had to run, so I was like, "F-running. I hate this. It's awful." I had this stigma attached to it, but as I've gotten older, and the time I have available to exercise has diminished, being able to get a good workout in by running a 5K in the morning invaluable. It puts my head in a good spot, and it makes me feel like I did something good for my body at the same time.
It makes you a more calm person, too. It's good for life insurance as well, so...
I wanted to ask you about something your read on Deadspin. I saw that you appreciated the sentence, and I didn't know if the Tampa reference was what made it funny, but have you actually ever smelled a sulfurous fart on the early morning business class flight from St. Louis to Tampa? Like is that really that bad that you know what that's like or...
Ha. No, no, no. David J. Roth is one of my favorite writers anywhere, really. I think he's the best the internet has to offer right now. He's just got a way with words. I've never flown from St. Louis to Tampa. I don't think I've ever flown into Tampa, but I've been on, I guess, some less desirable flights with somebody who has a flatulence issue, so it struck a chord with me.
Or eating a bag of eggs next to you.
Yeah, right. That's always a good one. Or like, somebody who buys the egg salad sandwich...
From the gas station on the way to the airport.
Yeah, or tuna, tuna salad sandwich where the expiration date is like three days prior or worse. People are weird, man.
Oh, I totally get it. I had to ask because it was like, "It seems like they kind of like Tampa..." I hope the Tampa part of that, well obviously Rush Limbaugh was part of that sentence, too. What's your Kinja username by the way? Are you willing to share that? Are you an active commenter over there, or no?
Kinja? No, I'm not on there.
K, so we can't find you in the comment threads.
Oh no, I might've been a long time ago, but it's been a long, long time.
It's intimidating to comment on Deadspin because you feel like you're never good enough. Like your comment will never be as funny as everybody else's.
Yeah, my internet commenting days are kind of limited to Instagram now, I guess — or Twitter.
I wanted to ask you about your daughter who was just eight weeks old the last time you were in Tampa. I like your outlook on optimism as survival — you’ve said that you aren’t the most optimistic dude, but does having a family give you more opportunities to be positive?
Like, does it help you in that realm?
That's heavy. Um, that's a heavy question.
Sorry, man, I went from farts to that. I saw our time was running short, so I had to pull it out.
Haha, it's all good. Um, man I could talk about this for like three hours, or four hours. I don't know, kids give you a sense of optimism because, you know, they are so young and impressionable, and they have their whole life ahead of them, and there's so much potential there that it makes you feel, or reconnects you with discovery, and learning, and enthusiasm, and so many emotions that I feel kind of get muted as you get older. But at the same time, those are terrifying things. Like I am responsible for this kid, and it's such a huge undertaking to be a parent, and, um, I'd be lying if I said I don't wake up everyday and am like, "Man, was I good dad yesterday?," or "Am I gonna be good dad today?", or "Am I blowing it if I do this," or "Is this the right thing to do?"
And I think a lot of that just has to do with, like, I have a pretty good feel of self-doubt floating around in my head. It's kind of a double-edged sword in that way. It's so exciting and amazing to almost live through these kids again as they experience the world for the first time, but at the same time it's terrifying because you want to make sure they're doing it in a positive way.
I think if you get Halloween right you'll be okay.
We're pretty good at Halloween.
Do you guys go to Beverly Hills and stuff. I remember my parents used to be like, "We're not trick or treating in Canoga Park, kid."
Nah, we keep it local. Keep it easy. I'm a little scared now because my son is just over two years old, so I think he understands what scary is as a concept, so, like last year he didn't know what the hell was going on, so we just walked around. I carried him the whole time. He couldn't say "trick or treat," he didn't know what was happening. He was just dressed up as a bee and that was the deal. But now I feel like some of the decor and vibes of some of the houses in our neighborhood are gonna freak him out pretty bad, but we'll see.
Ah, that sucks. Sorry I didn't get to ask you about Less Art, by the way, maybe we can talk about it when that band announces a tour or something, and uh.
Yeah, we gotta get down to Florida.
I don't know man, I mean, I don't wanna take any more of your time. I may just pass the questions to Nathalie. I did have some questions about Less Art, but they can be answered via email or maybe another time if you do end up coming down here. Maybe real quick — would Puig Destroyer open up for Less Art if Less Art went on tour? I know there's a lot of dudes in the band, and they're all in the Bay area except for you, a lot of people to wrangle, but would you play a Puig Destroyer set?
Uh, I wish. Some of those songs are so ridiculously fast that I don't even know, and absurdly put together, because, like, I programmed the drums for all that stuff because I wanted it to be at, like, ridiculous BPMs, and I wanted to make the fills, like, as stupid as long and insane as possible.
Yeah, to reflect the joke.
Totally. So I can't play half the shit that's on that record, but um, there are a few songs that we could play. We've actually talked as Less Art about, like, playing a couple of Puig songs in a headlining set just because we would need to fill time since we only have, like nine songs.
Haha, I'd take that.
Yeah, but yeah it would be fun. I wish I would've grown up being super into blast beats and, uh, like grindcore and metal and stuff because maybe my double-bass and blast beat chops would be a little bit better, but, I don't know — there's still time. I can still learn 'em.
Right on, well thanks for your time. Have good rehearsals, and have a good tour with Circa Survive. It look like a cool little jog with CHON. CHON is pretty rad, too.
Yeah, it's gonna be fun. Uh, yeah thanks so much for talking to me — that was cool.
Of course, man.
Travel safe, and we'll see you when you get here. See you Riley.
See you in Tampa, cool, take care. Bye.