Nov 18, 2021 • 54M

Sellout Stories: Riley Breckenridge (Thrice)

The drummer talks about the band's move to Island Def Jam for 2003's 'The Artist in the Ambulance.'

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Dan Ozzi
A podcast companion to Dan Ozzi's REPLY ALT.
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Hello and welcome to REPLY ALT, my perfect email newsletter about music which has never had a single typo or msitake in it!


I had my West Coast SELLOUT release party last week in Los Angeles and it still amazes me that an entire venue’s worth of people will show up to hear about A BOOK. THE WRITTEN WORD! Thank you for coming if you did! I really do need to set up some events in other cities, huh?

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I shook a lot of hands and took many pictures with people and as a result I got sick for the first time in two years. Don’t worry, it’s not The Big C. I got tested just to be sure. Just a regular boring cold. Aha, suckers! Your best efforts to infect me with your Covid germs have failed! I AM UNKILLABLE! I’m feeling much better now thank you but you’ll have to excuse the scratchiness in my voice in this interview I recently recorded with Thrice’s Riley Breckenridge.

As I mentioned, I’ve been running this series called Sellout Stories in which I talk to some of the supporting players in SELLOUT about their major-label experiences. (Check out previous interviews with Norman Brannon from Texas Is the Reason, Chris #2 from Anti-Flag, and Chris DeMakes from Less Than Jake.) Glad to add Thrice to that list today.

I’m forgetting who said it at the moment, but someone I interviewed for the Thursday chapter of SELLOUT told me that around the time the New Jersey band went to Island Def Jam, the label also signed Thrice, almost as a backup plan. You know, in case Thursday didn’t work out. Good to have another ‘Th—” band on deck.

I don’t think it was as simple as that, but Thursday certainly did cast a long shadow at Island Def Jam. When the band got bought out from Victory Records for $1.2 million, there were a lot of expectations. The New York Times Magazine compared the band to Metallica and U2. There wasn’t nearly as much drama surrounding their West Coast counterparts in Thrice, but the band did have a similar experience with the label. They got a ridiculously overblown budget to make their major label debut (likely also somewhere around the half-mill mark) and had months to overanalyze it. They were also caught in the unfortunate transitional period when Lyor Cohen left the label and L.A. Reid stepped in.

The result of Thrice’s big-budget effort was The Artist in The Ambulance, which was released in July 2003, two months before Thursday’s War All the Time. I figured, since Thrice only got a few passing mentions in SELLOUT, they deserve to have their story expanded upon here. So I convinced drummer Riley Breckenridge to chat about the band’s major label experience.

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