The Thermals
Friday, Feb. 23
Viking Union Multi-purpose Room
7 p.m. doors
$8 student w/ID
$10 general

Recently, Kathy Foster of the Thermals gave a low down of new material the group has been working on, their first headlining U.S. tour in a while, life on camera, and other Thermals insights.

Rosie Sabaric: What do you think of the Body, the Blood, the Machine and how this album has more overtly political messages?

Kathy Foster: It’s a sign of the times. Hutch wrote about what was in his mind at the time and just thinking about what was going on in the government and our country and just taking that to the extreme level of how bad it can get.

RS: How are the new band members working out?

KF: Really good. They’ve had a chance to play all the newer songs while Hutch was doing some lead stuff on guitar. So without an extra guitar player we wouldn’t be able to pull those off. Lauren is a fantastic drummer, so it’s been working out good.

RS: How much work has been done for new material? Is there enough for a new album?
KF: Not yet. Hutch and I have been writing stuff together and we’re planning on recording some quick demos before we go on tour, so we have all our ideas down so far. We probably have been working on five or six songs so far; but, not quite enough for a record. We’re just kind of working on it when we’re at home. So we started writing, I don’t know, in the fall and in between tours and since we’ve been home in January we’ve been trying to work on it.

RS: How will the new material be different than your last three albums, if it will be different?
KF: I think it will be even more dynamic or dynamic in a different way. I know Hutch wants to, for lyrics, be not so thematic. He kind of felt like this record alienated some people or could have alienated people with its topics. We both like it a lot, but it’s not our mission to write about political stuff. It’s just, like, that record was about that and the next record will be about something else. It will be able to be more broadly appreciated I think.

RS: How did the show, Last Call, go with Carson Daly?

KF: It went well. We taped it on Tuesday and it airs this Friday. So it airs on the 16th and it was super fun. I mean we all had a good time. It was nice getting out of Portland and spending some warmth-time in the warmth and sun. And it just went really smoothly, I mean it was exciting because it was our first major television performance. So everyone was excited about being on NBC a lot, and just being on the set of the talk show.

RS: Did you feel like you were a kid in a candy store?

KF: Kind of. I mean it’s just kind of exciting when you see something in real life that you only see on T.V. No matter what I think. So yea it just went really smoothly. Everyone who worked on the set, like the crew, was so nice and just seeing all these people that loved there job so much and they were all just super nice and friendly. No problems at all.

RS: Do you feel that your fan base is continuing to grow from this exposure as well as the music videos the Thermals have done?

KF: Yea definitely. Yea I think the word is spreading and a lot of people are discovering us. And Hutch and I hosted Subterranean (on MTV 2) at the beginning of January, so just doing a couple of things that would turn people on to (the Thermals) that haven’t heard of us. A lot of people have written to us saying that’s how they’ve found out about us--just being on video.

RS: What’s it like to see your self on T.V.?

KF: Well, I don’t really watch T.V. that much and I don’t have cable or anything. Even when we do get copies of stuff, we don’t necessarily watch it. It’s just kind of weird seeing yourself. And you can’t see it in the way other people see it.

RS: In the next few months, you’re going to be having a show every day or every other day. How are you going to take care of yourself? What do you think about all the touring as well?

KF: Well, I’m pretty used to it. I’ve been going on a tour a long time, so I’m pretty used to the routine now. I think the more we tour and the better shows we have, the more comfortable we can be. Hutch and I have been playing music together since 1997 when we went on our first tour and then the next few years we went on tour just booking it ourselves. So we definitely have grown a lot to the point of where we needed a booking agent. Except, it can be tough doing the same thing everyday--not having a lot of time to yourself and not having time to do whatever else you want to do and being stuck just doing this for a month. At the same time, I like traveling, I like road trips, I like playing music, I like playing shows and meeting all the different people and affecting different people in different ways and seeing their reactions. That’s what we dig for- to make music that we love and we like to play shows and have fun with people and just enjoy the music.

RS: In the next few months is there a particular stop on tour that you are looking forward to performing at?

KF: Yea. Well, I’m really excited about New York because we’re headlining the Balleria Ballroom and the show is already sold-out. So I’m pretty excited about that. In Cleveland we always have a good time in. People are super rowdy there. There are also just some places we haven’t performed at in a while like Boston, like the Southeast like Florida. We’re also playing some places in the south we haven’t played before--Alabama. We have a show in Vancouver and we haven’t been to Canada yet, so hopefully we won’t have any problems getting across the border. And we haven’t done a headlining tour for quite a while. I mean we’ve opened for Cursive for six weeks; we just haven’t done our own tour for a while.

RS: There’s been a lot of questions about the Hummer commercial where you were offered 50,000 dollars for the song “It’s Trivia “ to play during the commercial. Was everyone simultaneously kind of like “No we’re not going to do it” or was there some thought put in to it or discussion?

KF: No, there was no thought. It’s funny because it was so long ago--it happened at least two or two and a half years ago. Maybe even longer. The guy who first wrote about it, wrote about it about a year after it happened. And I think we were just on tour and then Sub Pop called us and we were just like “No.” So it didn’t take any thought at all. Just the word the Hummer…

RS: Has there been any other offers the band has thought about a little?

KF: No, not really. I think that might have been the only commercial offer we’ve got. We’ve had our music on some video games and skate videos. At this point I wouldn’t want our songs to be on commercials--I mean we don’t sit around trying to think of products we would approve of. I just wouldn’t want our songs selling any products. It’s like I hate it when there’s a song on a commercial I like and then later on I have to associate the song with that commercial. It’s like every time that Led Zeppelin song comes on I think of that car. I don’t want that to happen with our songs. We just value our music too much for that. If anything, I would be okay for writing separate music for something.

RS: Recently the Body, the Blood, the Machine was nominated for Best Punk album of the year for the Plug awards as well as falling onto a bunch of Best of..lists. What is your personal reaction to all of this as well as the rest of the members of the Thermals?

KF: We’re pretty happy about it and it’s good to hear. It doesn’t affect us too much. I think that helps the more people to hear about us, which makes me happy. I just want more and more people to hear our music. I’m just really proud of our album, so I’m just proud to be on a bunch of people’s year-end lists especially like NPR and the Onion. This is stuff I respect. So it’s cool to be respected by people you respect.

RS: Do you feel like all of this publicity and press has happened quickly? I know you and Hutch have been performing together for a while in a few other bands, but in terms of a year time span?

KF: We don’t feel like it’s been happening too quickly because it’s been growing steadily since the first record. We felt like stuff happened really quickly at the beginning. Hutch and I were just kind of working on other stuff like Urban Legends and had a band called Hutch and Kathy. And then Hutch just had made a batch of Thermals songs just on his own, and was making copies for people just for fun. That demo made it’s way to Sub Pop just by word-of-mouth and passing from friend to friend. And then they contacted us just after they heard the demo. Hutch and I were on tour doing ‘Hutch and Kathy’ and then they emailed us. So then when we got home we were like, ‘Let’s make a band. Let’s play these songs.’ And then we played two or three shows before we signed to Sub Pop as the Thermals. So in the beginning it seemed like it happened really fast. We got to do a lot of things that first year like playing at Sasquatch and touring Europe. Since then it’s slowed down a little bit, but it’s steadily growing. Now we’re at the point where something needs to happen to make that jump so a lot of people hear it because it’s still kind of underground. A lot of people still haven’t heard of it.

RS: I’m curious how the actual Thermals name came about?

KF: Hutch came up with it kind of a while before the Thermals started. He just had this idea for a band name and it’s just named after the long underwear. He just thought it was just a cute, sexy name. At the time and still he liked to wear thrift store thermals. But it’s funny because he would wear like girls prints with flower prints or lavender.

RS: Do you think the European crowds or American crowds are better?

KF: I’m not sure. I like both. I think Europe has been a little better for us. People just get on stage and jump off. There’s that kind of frenetic energy. It is hard to say because we haven’t headlined a tour in the U.S. for a while. But, we’ll see if the U.S. can step it up on this tour.

RS: When you go to all of the different tour stops is their anything you try to take with you as memorabilia or something for the memory?

KF: I try to take pictures. I still like using an analog camera, but after awhile you have so many pictures of being in the band or backstage. So I try to take pictures at some nature spot or interesting photos on the road. I love stopping in the Badlands in South Dakota. We went to the Grand Canyon for the first time a few months ago and I like to do that. Just taking little stops. Just little fun trips for a couple hours. I also like to collect flyers from the shows and the weeklies if we get any write up of those. I have a collection of magazines I need to make a scrapbook out of, it’s like heavy boxes of magazines.

RS: Are you excited about performing to a university crowd? I don’t think there’s too many stops on your tour at universities.

KF: Yea, I’m excited. We played there though, I don’t know if it’ll be that same room, but a long time ago in the beginning, maybe 2003. There was a fashion show. So it should be a lot of fun. So I hope a lot of kids will come out and go crazy.