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My Influences: Thursday’s Geoff Rickly


Thursday have released plenty of scorching records since forming in 1997 — but nothing tops their latest release No Devolución, the New Jersey crew’s most expansive and ambitious album to date. With the aid of producer Dave Fridmann, who’s added his dense, awesomely filthy sonic touch to albums by Flaming Lips and MGMT, frontman Geoff Rickly and his band drew on all manner of ideas for an album that largely explores the ups and downs of relationships.

As the group hits the road this week to support the album, SPIN caught up with Rickly and asked him to open up on the record’s key influences. Who knew the guy was such a softie for PJ Harvey?


    Rickly has long been turned off by prog-rock’s geek quotient (time changes, sci-fi lyrics), but he’ll make an exception for Genesis’ Peter Gabriel-led era. “Most prog just feels so clinical, like, ‘Oh yeah, we can make this part 17/8?'” he says. “But Genesis’ Nursery Cryme is a completely mind-blowing record for me. I was amazed to hear really complex music that sounded really heartfelt.”

    Hear It: Genesis, “The Musical Box”


    On the new track “Stay True,” Rickly penned a tribute to up-and-coming hardcore act Touché Amoreé after getting inspired by the group’s wide-eyed optimism — which reminded Rickly of his own youth. “I just see so much of myself in singer Jeremy [Bolm],” says Rickly. “And I always find myself giving him the kind of advice I wish people told me when I was younger. But he’s a smart kid and doesn’t need me telling him this stuff. So this song is sort of, ‘If I could have a conversation with my younger self, what would I say to him.'”

    Hear It: Touché Amoré “I’ll Deserve Just That”


    Arguably her finest studio recording, the British singer’s 2000 quasi-concept album explores love and sexual freedom set in New York City, which Rickly says was a particularly bold move for Harvey. “In this post-ironic era, it’s brave to do a record about place and feeling and being totally straight forward,” he says, citing “This Mess We’re In,” featuring Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, as his favorite track. “She’s such an inspiration because she’s so fearless. I wish I could be fearless like her.”

    Hear It: PJ Harvey, “This Mess We’re In”


    Much of Rickly’s lyrics on No Devolución address the ups and downs of falling in love and maintaining an intense relationship. For Rickly, no record captures romantic intensity better than Van Morrison’s 1968 classic. “You can just hang out in the grass with someone for an afternoon and listen to nothing but this record,” says Rickly. “There’s something amazing about music that lets you stay in the moment of that feeling, rather than analyzing it or dissecting it. Being analytical [about love] is easier than trying to embody the spirit of it, although Van Morrison manages to do it.”

    Hear It: Van Morrison, “Astral Weeks”


    Rickly says he aspires to the patriarchal, authoritative tone that Waits brings to all his music, particularly his 1987 track “Cold Cold Ground.” “He’s this grand narrator in the background, controlling everything within it,” says Rickly. “I feel like in my songs, I’m just barely holding on. I’d like to have that authority more, to be that ringleader. Maybe ten years from now.”

    Hear It: Tom Waits, “Cold Cold Ground”


    Many of the tracks on No Devolución were inspired by American composer Philip Glass, particularly his 1970 work Music With Changing Parts, a dizzying opus whose repetitive motif slowly evolves over one sprawling hour. The song “A Darker Forest” is Rickly’s attempt at a Glass homage. “With him, you start listening to it and an hour later it’s the same thing, but it sounds completely different and you just can’t put your finger on it,” he says. “It’s amazing. In our band, we’ve got six people, and on ‘A Darker Forest’ we try to all mimic each other, which is what Glass kind of does. There’s something really hypnotic about it, but you can’t tell what it is without studying it really closely.”