‘The Dead City Blueprint’ sees Thine emerge from a 10+ year silence with a unique sound that’s classically dark, vital and relevant to the modern ear. This is no surprise given their turn of the century classic ‘In Therapy’ is considered essential listening for those who’ve walked and survived the darkest roads. The band took a moment to discuss their latest creative journey and how the past decade has shaped their sound and changed their lives.
Let me just say that it’s a privilege to gain some first hand insight and background into the creative process behind ‘The Dead City Blueprint’. Tell us a little about what initially inspired the idea.
Thanks a lot. The origins of TDCB itself can be traced right back to ‘In Therapy’ actually, as this was originally what we were going to call that album, but changed it because of the world trade center episode. We didn’t want people thinking it might’ve been associated with that on any level, so we went with ‘In Therapy’, which in hindsight fit that album better, probably.
Anyway, we kept writing songs through the years, all of which (except Brave Young Assassin) fell by the wayside to make way for newer material, but the album title itself always remained. Not too sure why, but I like what it represents, whether on a devolving and detached social level, or existential, relating to death, collapse through certain turmoil, or (metaphorically) searching its dark corners and grimy alleyways.
Musically, I don’t think it was so interesting to write ‘In Therapy’ part 2, so even songs written just after that album were more diverse and a bit more experimental. Sure, there were plenty of rock-type songs made as well, but we’re not actually a strict rock band at all, and never have been. Prefer feeling, and some atmosphere and emotion above all else I’d say.
And so the writing evolved and some of the more proggy type elements were creeping in too. Then in 2012 I had a bad time, and most of the album songs were written in a period of around 7 months as a fallout from that, and the creativity was surely flowing then. Completely necessary as a catalyst, in one of those sink or swim periods. I hope some of the rawness and also numbness comes through in the songs, because it should! Suffering for one’s art indeed, hehe.
To the objective listener, ‘The Dead City Blueprint’ could be viewed as a concept album (one central idea split into 9 parts). Would you agree with that impression, or is it more accurate to view each song as a separate vignette (consistent with one central theme)?
I think much of it has unintentionally ended up conceptual as it is tied together in respect towards a period of life which it details. In effect a diary of sorts, but also retaining an ambiguity and openness to interpretation so people can perhaps adapt its messages towards their own lives. But, yes, there are so many messages and themes going on that it is certainly best to consider it for its parts than its whole. Very introspectively written though, and delving deep.
And actually I notice some reviewers have not had the chance to hear the closing instrumental track, ‘Adrift Through The Arcane Isles Of Recovery’ yet, which is a great end to the journey. This track was originally meant to be like a 3-part voyage through hell, but wanted something a little more reflective, and very poignant. It’s ultimately more transitional in an uplifting sense than purely representing a descent now, with a perfect closing few moments I must say. Powerful.
During the writing process, do you find that your lyrical ideas inspire composition or the converse?
It’s usually music written first, or I can get a few words in my head and build something around that. The words are changed as the song develops, but sometimes it can be a short message/statement initially, or something to give a certain flow. But often there is an underlying feeling, and the challenge is to give that feeling form and life, and try to emulate it as closely as it was envisaged, to preserve the integrity of it as much as possible.
What was the most challenging aspect of the recording process?
Hmm, perhaps the pressure to bring out said emotions, or for the dynamics of the tracks to work in a certain way that they bring out the correct triggers at the correct times. The flow of everything was very conscious. There was a lot of hard work in there. Also, a challenge for myself was to accept when it was done (or as done as can be), because it never happens or would’ve happened, hehe. Goes back to that saying of art never being truly completed, only abandoned. So true.
With the release date fast approaching, is the album close to what you envisioned during the initial stages of writing?
Yes, I’d say so. Some of it is even more rich and dynamic, by deciding to include things like keyboards and acoustic guitar which I feel gave it an extra breadth overall, and even though often mainly subtle I also felt helped the ambience and atmosphere. Wanted it to breathe and have a sense of a living dynamic journey of emotion and introspection, than something sterile and perhaps too overly conventional.
Are there any hidden gems from the recording sessions that didn’t make the album?
We went in with 14 songs, and 4 didn’t make the final album. At first the intention was to include all of them, but some of the rockier tracks fell away, even though most were at a very advanced stage. I think had they all featured, then the album would not be as good, and the duration would be way too long. It works well as a complete journey as it is. We do have plans to release them at some point though. Perhaps a digital EP or something. Just need a bit more polish added and they’ll be ready. One of them was a song we have previously demoed, called Take the Risk, and that version is still on YouTube etc for those who wish to seek it out.
10 years can change a person…maturation, evolution of perspective; what do you think is the greatest impact this period has had on you as a band?
Refining what we do and establishing our own identity further, so we are a product of ourselves and not of our influences. But yes, as the years roll by, perspective is constantly is re-evaluated, and the searching questions still remain. I think the arrogance and impulse of youth subsides slightly (for most) to be replaced by a search of self and inner peace as we become shaped by our progressive experiences, and become more conscious of our mortality. For me at least, some of that is represented in the songs.
One of the (many) things I enjoy about this album and others by similar (artistically) minded acts like My Dying Bride is the timeless, classic aesthetic conveyed through the music. It essentially defies time and convention and cannot be taught or imitated. It can be a band’s greatest asset. What do you feel is your greatest asset as a group?
Glad you mention that, as we’ve heard a few people saying our album has some of this timeless and classic aspect. Greatest asset I’d say is to be able to create music which people can relate to and ‘personalise’ somewhat, and which has the capability to move them. They can inject it into their lives and their experiences and it can help people get by. We had a lot of comments such as this on ‘In Therapy’. People having a tough time and it helping them through. One guy even saying it helped save his life on a couple of occasions. A great honour to have made a difference. For it to make such a link with the listener that they associate with it fully, and that it becomes a soundtrack to their lives somewhat.
I know it may be a bit early to tell at this point, but where do you see your sound evolving from here?
We’ve written lots of new songs already, and generally they seem more mellow, atmospheric, and vocally-driven. A bit more bleak too perhaps. Whether they will end up as Thine or not I don’t know, as the next album might be more a collective effort writing-wise, so could take a different direction, and so if what I’ve done doesn’t fit, then fair enough.
Which past and current bands/musicians inspire and influence you the most?
Currently nothing. I like to think we’ve developed to a point of becoming an entity influenced only by ourselves – inspiration drawn from life circumstances and experiences. Occasionally I’d get influenced by a perception of what a band’s music is without really hearing them much. I’ve done this before with The Doors many years ago. So I took the darkness only from them, because that’s all I chose to hear I guess. Bands like REM have inspired a little around ‘In Therapy’ time. For this album though, can’t think of much. Actually, one song did get created out of initially hearing a progression in a 4-second section of a Kate Bush song I overheard, but can’t think of much else.
Any plans to tour the US?
The chance would be a very fine thing. Who knows, if things take off then no reason why not, if there’s the support there.
Any parting words or final thoughts?
Thanks a lot for the questions. Hope this has given a bit of insight into what we are about. See you on the other side.
Interviewed by: Jeremy Moore
Photo Credit: Aaron Stainthorpe