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Bands to Watch – The Thermals

Nothinglike the constant gloom of Portland, Oregon, and the prospect of lifeas a manicured folk act to transform a couple of mild-mannered indierockers into slobbering, punk-thrashing freaks. At least that’s whathappened to the Thermals’ Hutch Harris and Kathy Foster. After a yearof tweaking their precious acoustic debut (2002’s Hutch and Kathy),they went back to the basement, plugged in, and trimmed the songs downto two minutes. The result: instant audio therapy. Last year’s More Parts Per Million “probably cost between $10 and $15,” says Harris. “And people were bragging about the White Stripes record only costing $4,000!”

The Thermals’ second album, the exuberant Fuckin A(produced by Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla), sounds almost asgritty as its predecessor, but the fizzy new tunes have more snap andpop. Goofy roller coasters like “Let Your Earth Quake, Baby” sound likethe Ramones guest-starring on an episode of Teletubbies.

“People tell us our music makes them feel like they’re inhigh school again,” says Foster. “It’s the same in Europe,” addsHarris, “but they’re much more serious about it. In Germany, they madeus play every song we had and they still said the show was too short.We did a Misfits cover and then had to hide behind the DJ booth becausethe crowd wasn’t satisfied!”