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Despite the number of textures and deceptively intricate ideas throughout Thursday’s back catalog, Pedulla and Keeley have pretty simple rigs. The latter tends to favor Marshall and Vox AC30 amps and standard Fender Telecasters with a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails bridge pickup. Pedulla is a bit more adventurous in his use of multiple effects units, but he also favors Telecasters with a Hot Rails bridge unit. He also has a custom First Act hollowbody—which is also stocked with Hot Rails.
“For some people, that’s a weird pairing— to put that hot of a pickup in a guitar like that,” he says of the double-cutaway, Bigsby-outfitted guitar. “But it’s awesome, and that got used probably the most. “Dave also has an awesome Harmony Rocket that we used, and I have a Jaguar that I played on a couple of things.”
Amp-wise, Pedulla has recently gotten into Bad Cats. “I used to use the Bogner Ecstasy Classic for distortion and I tried various combos for clean sounds, but I just got myself a Bad Cat Lynx and that’s all I use now. The second day of the tour, our front-of-house engineer came up and was, like, ‘Dude, that is the best your guitar has ever sounded!’ And I feel the same way. For the first recording session, I really wanted that Bad Cat but I didn’t have one, so I borrowed one. After two weeks or a month off, it became a challenge to find one for the next session. Dave was pretty adamant too—‘You need to make sure you have that amp again.’ Luckily, a friend of mine had an extra one he sold me at an amazing deal. So that and the Line 6 M13—that’s all I need. The only thing I use in the studio that I don’t have in my live rig, at least for now, is a DigiTech TimeBender Digital Delay pedal, which is a lot of fun.”
Keeley, on the other hand, had some difficulties with gear during the No Devoluci—n sessions. “When we went into the studio, a lot of my gear was in disrepair,” he says. “So the biggest change for me was, ‘Steve, can I play your guitar here?’ and ‘Oh, this doesn’t work—but it sounds kinda cool.’ It was a hodgepodge of amps that did or didn’t work or were blown or wires that were disconnected. It’s definitely strange making something that’s going to last forever in a context where you’re not confident in what you’re using. It’s impossible for that not to affect what you play, as well as the energy of the parts. It can add to the tension of a part or a song or just the energy of a record. I can hear things like that, at least in my own playing.”
Keeley sees the light live. Photo by Louise Lockhart
He missed one amp more than anything else. “There’s a Marhsall JCM900. It’s Geoff’s amp, but it’s the one I played in the basement days for years and years. It has been historically troublesome and finicky, but it sounds fantastic. Beyond that, the most frustrating thing was that I have a couple of AC30s that sound fantastic, but the noise . . . we couldn’t get rid of it no matter what we did! That was a daily struggle.”
Home Is Where the Hardcore Is
What separates Thursday from some of the more dubious exponents of the genre they helped create is their willingness to embrace newcomers and their steadfast refusal to turn their back on the hardcore scenes they grew up in. Whether it’s offering opening slots to recent up-and-comers Touché Amoré and La Dispute on tour or Pedulla revealing that studio communication often involves requests such as, “Play something like an old Quicksand drum beat,” the guys in Thursday continue to have a hand in the DIY scenes that made them who they are today.
“It’s a school of thought we were exposed to at a young age, and it became an inherent part of our personalities and our philosophy for life,” Keeley says. “Be authentic, don’t sell people on an idea. Rather than selling people on an idea, present them with a piece of art and allow them to take it from you and accept or reject it—and be okay with that.”
And No Devoluci—n is indeed a piece of art—arguably with more emotion, innovation, and hardcore attitude than anything Thursday has done before. All without returning to what they’ve done before—and all without turning their back on it, either.