AN INTERVIEW WITH THORNHILL
“Sometimes the more tragedy you endure the stronger you become,
enough to hold you up when things get rough.”
SICK AND SOUND has the pleasure to introduce to its readers an exclusive interview our editor-in-chief Alessandra had with Ethan and Jacob from THORNHILL alternative metalcore outfit from Melbourne, Australia. We are offering a wider overview of the band and exploring their latest album BUTTERFLY EP out on February 16th, 2018 via UNFD.
- We would love to start by digging into the influences, the bands and genres that have impacted in the past both your personal experience as individual musicians and your music career as a band.
Ethan: As a band for this release our biggest influences have been Radiohead, Karnivool and Jeff Buckley. The heavier influences to our sound has predominantly been Northlane and Architects. Surprisingly we don’t listen to much ‘heavy’ music anymore, however we have always loved to play it.
- You’re currently framed into the alternative metalcore music soundscape. While reviewing your new record BUTTERFLY EP, I have found many more influences into the –core genres. I would love to discuss more about the uniqueness of the sound that Thornhill has created and allowed the band to emerge in the overcrowded metalcore scenario.
Ethan: One of our biggest focuses in this band has always been trying to incorporate different genres in a relatively heavy manner. We all listen to a massive variety of music, therefore we never want to be restricted to playing one genre. At times we still find this difficult and there are countless tracks and ideas that just haven’t worked because of it. However, we are never short of ideas whether they be good or bad.
- What’s been the inspiration leading to the choice of Thornhill as a name for your outfit?
Jacob: We had been tossing around ideas for about 6 months and finally decided on Thornhill after ‘13’ was recorded and the video was done, which was very last minute. Thornhill is the street name that majority of our first EP was written and was actually knocked back by half the band when we first pitched it. We’d run out of ideas and every name just sounded bad so in the end we just stuck with it.
- Your new album BUTTERFLY EP is following up 13 EP dating back to 2016. How has the songwriting process changed since your last record and what new features were introduced?
Ethan: Well first off, we now know how to write a full song. The first EP was a mash up of random ideas Jacob and I wrote in high school, therefore there were some unfinished and under developed songs when we went to our producer. When the time to record ‘Butterfly’ came around, the songs were finished and just needed a bit of a polish. Just in general I think our songwriting has massively matured however there will always be room for improvement.
- I was very fascinated with the concept of the metamorphosis of a butterfly from a caterpillar as a metaphor of your own experience evolving and progressing from very basics. Let’s talk more about the title and artwork chosen for your record, BUTTERFLY, and let’s go deeper into your own evolution as a band.
Jacob: BUTTERFLY is based on change, since ‘13’ there’s definitely been a lot of that. We’ve evolved our writing, our live performance and our sound and we are definitely getting closer in every release. The lyrics might be about my experiences and passions but we grow and evolve from experience and become stronger, so in a way, every track is based on the title. The artwork was someone we stumbled across on Instagram under @stockandrender so definitely check him out!
- What were the most challenging aspects you had to cope with while working on BUTTERFLY EP and what about the easiest ones?
Ethan: There were a few songs that had close to 10 different versions before we settled on a final. This was quite a tedious process as all the versions worked, however they just didn’t feel quite right. In saying that there were some songs that came together in a matter of days and didn’t change at all.
Jacob: One of the biggest tasks was definitely vocals, I’m very new to my range and how to use my voice accurately. ‘Temperer’ our first single after ‘13’ was the first real time I’d sung and we noticed how well it was received and how much we all enjoyed it over screaming. So from there I’ve been getting lessons and trying to see what I can do for the short amount of time I’ve known how to use my voice, live and in the studio.
- While reviewing your record I found a terrific balance between heaviness and melodic. Transition between harsh and clean vocals on a sky-high vocal pitch is absolutely flawless and fully supported by the instrumentals. I would love to explore with you guys the process and intention of finding such a catchy and also dramatic equation.
Jacob and Ethan: Well a majority of our heavy sound comes from the instrumentals, therefore sometimes the vocals tend to just follow suit. However, we like to test the waters sometimes and experiment with clean vocals where people wouldn’t expect it. Hearing comments like that makes us feel quite proud as sometimes we aren’t even sure if the balance works!
- Let’s talk more about the lead single for BUTTERFLY EP, REPTILE. What was behind the songwriting process that brought to life the track? Please explain the choice of picking the song for a video release and the concept of fear and horror theme behind the footage.
Ethan: Instrumentally Reptile was basically written start to finish, it wasn’t a mash up of pre-made ideas and riffs. This was one of the songs I was talking about when I said there was about 10 different versions. Most of the same parts were still there just in many different orders.
Jacob: This song stood out to us as the best mix of the EP, it’s important I believe to make the single of any record the best representation of all the songs, so people don’t go into to it blindly. The video idea is what I based the lyrics on, I had always wanted to create something that makes people feel, whether it be visually or through our songs. I thought the best way to showcase the songs eerie vibe was through a horror type short film, which is one of my favourite things to watch. Make what you love to watch!
- I would love to enquire the same way about another track, LAVENDER, being my second fav off BUTTERFLY EP for its fiery heaviness. I would enjoy to know more about the songwriting leading to its creation, the inspiration for its title.
Ethan: To be honest this song was intended to be a black sheep, almost a guilty pleasure to our love for heavy music. Bring in influences from Bring Me the Horizon, Architects, Tesseract, bands we loved growing up was a really nice addition to the record. In saying that it is really annoying to play haha!
Jacob: The track title was meant to throw people off, the lightest name for the heaviest track. People would go into the song thinking it was something pretty but find out it’s filled with the most screams on the record. I then built the meaning behind it after deciding the name.
- Let’s explore the lyrical themes chosen for your record and your own approach to them.
Jacob: The themes vary throughout each track but they are mainly about my experiences and passions. Each song represents a time in my life and an experience I’ve had for example Track 2. Parasite is about a parasitical relationship and what it means to feel needed but not loved and Track 3. Reptile is about my love for horror and the friendships I’ve made from that passion. I definitely approached this record differently in my writing style, every release before, hand had been about my views but this record relies on pure emotion, how I felt at a particular time and place.
- What are the main messages that Thornhill would like to spread to its audience via BUTTERFLY EP?
Jacob: I think one of the biggest themes that work with the title are that you can always evolve and still have the same roots. Another theme lyrically is that you can draw happiness and love from sadness and despair, all are part of your evolution and build the foundation that is you. Sometimes the more tragedy you endure the stronger you become, enough to hold you up when things get rough. I know for me personally the lyrics are a portrayal of my psyche and how you can draw happiness from accepting misery, so in a way, connecting to listeners like this is my way of sharing stories that people can relate to.
- What sneak peeks would you like to share with our readers about any incoming future projects and live shows? How do you see yourself in 5 years time? Maybe sharing the stage with some metalcore titans?
Jacob and Ethan: We have our first headline show at Cherry Bar in Melbourne April 7th. In 5 years ideally we would be writing our 3rd full length which is pretty daunting to think about. We would love to be able to say that this band is our full time job, as that has been our dream since before Thornhill started.
Jacob and Ethan
Thank you for your time and good luck with the release party of BUTTERFLY EP in April. We are thrilled for more music to be dropped by THORNHILL and supporting you into Europe!
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