Thursday’s ‘Full Collapse’ at 20: members of Touche Amore, Deafheaven, La Dispute & more discuss the LP
Thursday's sophomore album Full Collapse turns 20 today, and as we said in our 20th anniversary review, it's not just the band's breakthrough but one of the most pivotal albums in the emo and post-hardcore explosion of the early 2000s. Its innovative mix of emo, punk, hardcore, post-hardcore, screamo, metalcore, indie rock, goth, and post-punk had an immediate impact on a lot of the bands who blew up just after Thursday, and it's remained an influential album for the past two decades. To get an even better idea of this album's massive impact, we spoke to several musicians about what this album meant to them, from veterans who paved the way for Thursday to Thursday's peers to newer artists who consider Full Collapse a formative influence.
The artists we spoke to include members of Touche Amore, La Dispute, Deafheaven, Saves The Day, Texas Is The Reason, Stay Inside, Bartees Strange, and more. Read on to see what they had to say about this classic album...
Chris Conley (Saves The Day)
Thursday came on the scene in the early 2000s with electric fury. The energy at their shows was magnetic, you couldn’t turn your eyes away. And the music was something new, something special. The way Steve and Tom played entirely different intricate dueling guitar parts was exciting — the notes and motifs felt almost classical in the quiet verses, and then monstrous and chaotic in the distorted crunchy riffs of the choruses. Tucker and Tim were an incredible and powerful rhythm section, with well-constructed wandering and melodic brutal bass lines, and absolutely bombastic primal drum hooks and bashing breakdowns. And then Geoff Rickly was an instant star on the stage, striking artistic aesthetically pleasing poses, with a voice between screaming and singing, filled with raw emotion, and when you listened to the words he was singing he was clearly a living breathing poet plucked out of time from some bygone era when art mattered more to humankind. Thursday helped elevate the underground scene of emo and post-hardcore making it more about the quality of the artistic expression and less about ticket sales and super glossy headshots.
We took Thursday out on their first big U.S. tour in the fall of 2001 when Saves The Day was touring in support of Stay What You Are. We instantly connected with the guys in the band and became fast friends, connected still to this day after a lifetime of traveling the world together sharing the stage. Back then, we were amazed to see the audience explode every night when Thursday launched into "Understanding In A Car Crash" to open the show. It was a sight to see. The room lit up in flashing strobe lights, people everywhere losing their minds in a fever of excitement, the band on fire onstage. And everyone who was around back then, who felt the energy of those songs at those shows, knew that they were witnessing the birth of a band that would be around for the rest of all of our lives. Thursday is one of the best bands in the world, and they have been since day one.
Chris Enriquez (On The Might of Princes)
I would say Full Collapse was the first indication that something was changing [in the emo/hardcore scene], but I still didn't necessarily know or realize how big it was going to become. Thursday took it to another level, because their video was on MTV, and they were on KROQ. And then very quickly, everybody was getting snatched up. I like to think that Thursday should get the credit for opening that door completely; I think Glassjaw and The Movielife kind of opened the door, and then Thursday busted the door down.
When I first heard it, I was like, they sound like Quicksand with screaming, like a DIY band playing basements and screaming mixed with Quicksand, and I had never really heard anything blended that way that well.
My brother-in-law, who was a well-known graffiti artist in NYC, was actually hit by a subway train and killed when Full Collapse came out. It was a very traumatic situation, and Full Collapse got me through that traumatizing time. I saw them play in Long Island and I wanted to meet Geoff to tell him how meaningful that record was to me at the time. And when I went up to him, he knew who I was, which I was taken back by. He said, "Hey man, we know each other. I met you years ago when we were teenagers because I went to Long Island to see shows," and he said I was somebody that he met at a Hot Water Music show, and I was actually somebody that he conversed with quite often, but I just didn't put two and two together that he was the same kid. And in addition to that, he knew On The Might of Princes, so it was actually really funny and we had a really cool discussion. I don't know if he remembers that -- he probably doesn't because it's been so long.
Jeremy Bolm (Touche Amore)
With the 20 year anniversary of Full Collapse now here, I thought it’d be fun to tell the story of how this band changed my entire life.
Full Collapse came out just days after my 18th birthday and within a short amount of time my adoration for them became a personality trait. A friend had sent me an mp3 of "Cross Out the Eyes" before its release so I was on the lookout and counted the days till it arrived. Upon my first listen to Full Collapse I remember being stunned by "Understanding in a Car Crash" immediately but it was "Concealer" that sealed the deal. I was going through some kind of personal strife at the time and hearing the frayed and desperate scream of “if you wanted to change the way I look at you” sent all of the hairs on my neck to full attention. I had certainly listened to my share of emotionally honest music but this was different. This was somehow rawer. To this day that song still gives me the same feeling. Few times in my life has an album hit me like this, but what made it different this time was this deep in my gut feeling that I needed to be a part of it.
Soon after my obsession had kicked in, my just 18 year old brain and limited abilities lead me to building them a fan website. I found their contact was an AOL address so I put it on my buddy list. One day I saw it online so I tried my luck and got a response! It was Steve Pedulla behind the username and I got to tell him what the record meant and that I was making them a fanpage. I asked if I could send them a questionnaire to fill out a little bio for each one of them. I was so thrilled when they did it! I remember Steve being stunned that someone in California knew who they were. Soon thereafter they came on their first West Coast tour opening for The Murder City Devils and American Steel. I introduced myself -- embarrassingly enough -- at a point that I had some kind of Laryngitis and could hardly speak. Geoff was doing their merch and he lit up with excitement when I got the words out that I was the website kid. He demanded I take one of every shirt design they had and a friendship was born. They’d come on tour many more times over the years and every time they’d invite me and we’d catch up. I could talk Coen Brothers with Steve, crack jokes with Tom, air drum along with Tucker side stage and make each other laugh, be asked kind questions about my family from Tim, go on a walk with Andrew to grab a slice of pizza and be amazed at his quick humor, or just listen to Geoff tell the best stories and be incredibly motivating.
Years later when Touche Amore formed we recorded a demo and sent it to Geoff and truly didn’t expect him to give it a real listen (he’s a busy man!) but not only did he listen, he offered to help release our first LP which he even sang on. Thursday took TA on our first big tour as well and really showed us the ropes. I’ve learned so much from those guys and I can safely and confidently say that they are the same sweet guys today they were the day we met. They truly took me and eventually my band under their wing and helped us in countless ways. To have the experience of saying your favorite band did this for you is some one in a million type of thing and that’s not lost on me. Over the years I’ve done my best to pay that forward and have friendships with people across the world I met through the band to try and give someone else this same feeling they gave me but those are some big shoes to fill. Anyway, here’s to 20 years of a fantastic record and a wonderful band.
Michael York (Pianos Become The Teeth)
I can still remember where I was when I first heard Full Collapse. It was an early summer day in 2001 and a friend of mine had just bought the record and we both sat in his living room, totally quiet, taking it in. Right when I heard the two snare hits open the record, it became one of those moments where life changed right then. From the outset, I could tell this band was different than anything I had heard. It was melodic but wasn't afraid to be ugly at times, it was so clean but raw and visceral at the same time. Sitting here trying to put into words what this record did for my life is hard to quantify. Full Collapse made me want to make music that felt exposed and heartfelt. If Thursday hadn't released this record, there's no doubt that a lot of bands wouldn't be here today, Pianos being one of them. Even listening back to it today it feels just as exciting.
Jordan Dreyer (La Dispute)
I can picture the title — red Sharpie ink in my terrible handwriting — loped across a silver Memorex CD-R, and hear the opening notes of “Understanding in a Car Crash” the way I first did, through the speakers of my parent’s old PC. The feeling the words gave me too: how I paused the music to call my dad into the room, rewinding to the Neil Young reference to bond over through-lines between songs he showed me that made me love music and the music I was learning to love by myself then, 14 years old, through the free bin at the record store and my friend’s older brother’s CD book and burner. But it wasn’t solely the excitement of discovering something at just that right age. I remember the feeling that vividly, I think, because I’ve felt it again and again, in various increments, throughout its twenty years in my life. From abandoning load-in to run from van to venue when “Paris in Flames” started at soundcheck, day one of the first non-DIY tour we did (a decade-plus ago now), to just last year, mid-pandemic, restlessly walking the street to be anywhere but my apartment, “Autobiography of a Nation” too loud in my headphones. Because the records I love most — like Full Collapse — aren’t artifacts of a single origin point, but alive history, rediscovered always at the right time to remind me that no matter what changes the reason I love music, that feeling, does not.
Kerry McCoy (Deafheaven)
Full Collapse was an album that I heard at a very crucial time in my musical development. I was 14 and had just started my journey into alternative / aggressive music, and this record had all of the energy, drive and melody I loved, while sounding like nothing else I had heard yet at the time. It opened my mind to a ton of different musical possibilities and has been an influence on me ever since.
Hether Fortune (Wax Idols)
I can hear the feedback ascending, about to crash down into something blistering and beautiful. The feeling of anticipation, of being on the edge, of not knowing. Thirteen. That’s how old I was the first time I heard Full Collapse, which would become one of the most formative moments of my life.
It feels impossible to neatly summarize how important that band and that album has been to me. Words don’t come close but I know every word, every measure by heart. The complex tapestry of influence, collaboration and friendship that has been woven between Thursday and myself over the 20 years since I first heard Full Collapse is no secret by now and yet it still feels completely surreal. My high school locker was plastered with photos of Geoff, my idol, who would sit patiently with me after shows as I showed him my terrible teenage poetry that I’d printed out and brought with me, whose “Autobiography of a Nation” lyrics I would later analyze for a poetry assignment, the person I basically wanted to be. The confidence that his kindness and interest in my writing instilled in me at that age cannot be understated. If you would have told me then that as an adult I would end up fronting my own band that would go on tour with Thursday, performing “Understanding In A Car Crash” on stage with a guest mic every night, that I would release an album on Geoff’s own record label, that Geoff himself would become one of my best friends and greatest champions, that I would come to know the wives and children of these mythological heroes, share inside jokes, watch them watch me play my songs, well… I would not have believed you. That’s fucking insane. And yet here I am, writing this, as requested by this publication in honor of the 20th anniversary of the album that defined my youth and served as my ultimate creative catalyst. What????
Anyway, happy anniversary boys! Thank you for everything. I love you.
Hayden Rodriguez (For Your Health)
Full Collapse came out when I was three years old so I kind of missed the boat on it the first time around but that fact only speaks to the artistry Thursday harnesses and the sense of community that they harbor. Their music transcends time and connects the dots on an ever-growing constellation between influencer and influenced. My first real exposure was going to see Touché Amoré open for Thursday when they were on tour together. The energy in the room was so crazy and Thursday was very explicitly caping for migrants and other marginalized people and I remember that being the first time I'd seen a show at a venue like House of Blues where an artist took time out of their set to garner support for people like that. I know their music is political but seeing a huge backdrop that said "PROTECT IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES" really left a mark on me. Going back to my thesis about Thursday connecting generations of punks: TA has been one of my favorite bands forever and Geoff provides vocals on one of their songs. Geoff also produced the first My Chem album, which I'm a huge fan of. One of the first friends I made touring with For Your Health was Tom Schlatter who did some vocals on Full Collapse. FYH's guitarist and my main music collaborator whom I spend all my time with, Damian, grew up in Jersey in the late '90s/early '00s and experienced Thursday and their impact firsthand. Little bonds and connections like these are what make that record so special to me and I owe a lot to it because I'm legitimately not sure where I'd be without it.
All in all, Full Collapse feels like a huge patch on an outstretching quilt. One that weaves us all together and will continue for decades to come. Fortunately, I caught Thursday playing Full Collapse in its entirety in 2018 and the whole room was screaming every word 17 years later, so I doubt it will be an issue.
Norman Brannon (Texas Is The Reason, 108, New End Original)
So here’s a painfully honest fact: “Cross Out the Eyes” was the first Thursday song I ever heard and I hated it. I was watching a skate video that licensed a New End Original song—so this must have been late 2001—and when that song came on I had an almost spontaneous reaction to grab the remote control and turn it off. I kid you not! But then a funny thing happened. I kept watching the video and I kept thinking about that song. And the more I thought about it, the more obsessed I became with whoever the hell made it. I was basically having an existential crisis over this song while watching a skate video. When I finally connected a name to the music, quite frankly, I was surprised. I’d heard of Thursday by that point, but that wasn’t what I expected them to sound like.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that my brain does not give up on its obsessions easily. I decided to go in deep on Full Collapse because, right from the start, Thursday gave me a visceral listening effect and most bands don’t do that at all—positive or negative. When I really connected to the album, it reminded me so much of those feelings from around the time that Texas is the Reason wrote “Back and to the Left”—a song about how we were basically dying from living in our city, struggling with each other while trying to love each other, trying to find the hope that gets us out alive. All of those things come out in Full Collapse, and it’s possible that my initial reaction came from a deep-seated identification with what they were doing. This is a record that has its pretty moments, of course—“Standing on the Edge of Summer,” for one, is still an absolutely gorgeous song—but sometimes you’ve got to get ugly to be real. Sometimes you’ve got to get uncomfortable. There’s a reason why it sticks with you and I’ve never been able to shake this album loose.
Yo - this album is truly a gift from the heavens. I will never ever ever forget hearing it for the first time. I was like 11 or 12 when this record dropped. I remember that the older kids (who were probably 14) were bumping it nonstop. This record was the thing I’d play before football practice, the first record I’d show my middle school crushes, and one of the first albums that helped me understand that it was totally fine to feel a little pissed off at your station in the world. The lines “I don’t want to feel like this forever” from "Understanding In A Car Crash" resonated with me then, and still to this day. The song "I Am the Killer" is still one of my favorite post hardcore songs - put that shit in the canon. Thursday is one of the greatest and this album is one of the hardest records in the genre. It’s also very cool that the band has grown up to continue to create great music and good people in the space.
Bryn Nieboer (Stay Inside)
Full Collapse may have been the very first emo album I ever heard. Hiding from rain in his car in a strip mall parking lot, my intimidatingly tall and handsome high school friend put the record on. He bet I would like it.
The album sounded at the time like a harbinger of some kind. As though it arrived from the future to warn us of something. I think I was a little bit afraid of it, because I didn't seek it out for almost a year after I first heard it.
Gallons of ink has been spilt over "emo" and its teen angst, but Thursday was always dealing with issues of abuse, imperialism and genocide, and they basically invented a genre that allowed for the requisite level of theatrical drama to express something as awful as that. For me, Thursday was the example that rock music didn't have to simply be disaffected and cool, or angry and simplistic. It could be emotionally visceral. That seemed to make a lot of people uncomfortable.
Vishnu Anantha (Stay Inside)
Hearing Full Collapse for the first time absolutely blew my mind. The lyrical themes and the music were so different from all the other stuff I was listening to at the time.
Each song is brimming with so many different ideas and weaves seamlessly between melodic and abrasive moments. The drumming is so tightly wound with the music and makes you feel like you are hurtling through a tunnel at full speed. I remember our old bandmate Bartees [Strange] turning to me during their Northside set and telling me how similar my drumming is to Tucker, and Thursday no doubt influenced my style and taste.
They were also my gateway into a whole other world of heavier artistic music including Circle Takes the Square, The Blood Brothers, and Envy (I was beyond hyped when they released a split together).
Daniel Kost (Infant Island)
I slept on Thursday for the longest time through my youth until I heard this record in early high school. I remember how remarkable it sounded when I first bought the CD and listened to it all on my long commute to high school. The poetry of it stood out like a sore thumb, and it scratched this itch that few others seemed even to find. I absolutely love how heavy and poppy this record is. Screaming or singing, every track is an absolute banger. Couldn’t recommend this record enough.
Check out some early 2000s Thursday photos taken by Nikki Sneakers at the Sahara on Long Island, CBGB, and Irving Plaza:
Geoff Rickly will also be appearing on The BrooklynVegan Show on Vans Channel 66 this Thursday (4/15) at 11 AM ET to discuss Full Collapse and the emo boom, followed by a set from musical guests Stay Inside. More info HERE.