How do you put this to words? How do you write a farewell to the band responsible for leading you down the musical path you've taken over the past ten years? I don't want this to be a mashed up synopsis of album reviews, so it's not going to be. If you're reading this, chances are you're already familiar with the musical endeavors this band has taken on over the years, and you know why their departure is such a big deal to their fans and the music community.
Thursday was my gateway drug. I had always been into music, and already I'd heard a few songs from bands that I would eventually come to love as time went on, but it wasn't until Thursday's Full Collapse that I really got it. I still remember my friend being so excited about this band he'd found, saying "You've just got to hear this." He put Full Collapse into the CD player, the robot intro played, and the explosive beginning of "Understanding In A Car Crash" kicked in. The feeling that record gave me, even on first listen, was something unforgettable. This was something new, and it was fucking incredible. This was big. This was different. This was important.
My first serious relationship started because of this band. Growing up in the middle of fucking nowhere in North Georgia, I wasn't exactly surrounded by the most culturally or musically aware people. I wore my Thursday shirts and I wore them with pride. I was bombarded with the cliche, "Hey man, it's Monday, not Thursday!" lines non stop. One day, I literally ran into a girl in a hallway. She took a second, looked at me, then saw my shirt. "Hey! Thursday! I didn't know anyone else around here even knew about them." I ended up dating that girl for nearly four years. All because of a t-shirt. Some things are just meant to be.
So we forgot our names, lying in the tall grass, underneath the billboard dreams.
Over the years of becoming more involved in the music scene, I had the pleasure of getting to know the guys in the band in a way I never could have imagined. I remember the first time I had the chance to actually spend time with them. Fuck, I was nervous. I felt out of place, like a fan boy just gawking at the whole experience, waiting for my eyes to open and I'd still be in bed and the whole thing would be nothing but a dream within a dream. Geoff screamed "Joeeeeeeeeee!" as I walked up the stairs. Do you realize how incredible it is to have somebody like that who is such a musical icon to you address you personally as a human? Not just as a fan. Not as my obscure internet alter-ego. As me. As Joe. Hugs and handshakes and drinks and stories and laughter. That kid that had spent all those lonely North Georgia years listening to the band, often at times when he felt like there was nothing else there for him but the music, here he was as a guest in their home. It was a surreal experience.
Later that evening, Andrew took me aside backstage before the band went on for their set. He told me how much it meant to him and the rest of the band how supportive I'd been over the years. I didn't understand. What thanks did I deserve? None. This band would be where they were without me ever saying a word. I was, still am, and always will be, just a guy who loves music. They have treated me like a true friend, and like a member of the Thursday family. All the thanks belong to them. They are why I am where I am, and they are why I connect with music in the way that I do.
How do you replace a band like this? How do you move on? It's like a relationship ending, and you understand why it has to end, you realize there isn't an alternative, and you know there isn't anything you can do to change it. The fact that it all makes sense does not make it any less heartbreaking.
The heartbreak that comes with just living through one day. All the good times that pass, all the friends we lose, in a lifetime on our way.
You don't go into a relationship thinking about the end. You don't start listening to a band thinking it's going to change you as a person.
That's life, and that's the beauty of music for people that truly love it. These songs, albums, and artists, they become woven into our stories of who we are as people. They engrave themselves into moments we'll never forget. Background music for instances in our lives that truly feel like cinematic experiences. A reminder of a person you loved as much as you loved that song or record, and they become so interconnected, there's no separating it. An indestructible alloy of music and emotion.
There are moments in my life that are defined by songs Thursday has written. There are lines in songs that take me back to a certain place, with certain people, and I feel the feelings I had so many years ago.
These albums we have had the privilege of being given, they are soundtracks for various eras of my life. As I grew up, so did the band. I cannot listen to their records without being reminded of how my life was at that point in time, when those songs first worked their way under my skin and into my blood. I do not think they will ever fully leave my system, nor do I want them to.
Everything in life eventually passes. We live in a finite world. Relationships end. Bands stop making music. It is what it is.
We grew up too fast, falling apart, like the ashes of American flags.
Please don't tell me they were just a band. That bands break up all the time. That I'll feel better, it's no big deal, I'll get over it. Why the fuck would I want to hear that right now? I don't want to feel better, and I don't want to get over it. I want to take the time to mourn the loss of something that I've invested the better part of my adult life in caring about. After more than ten years of the group pouring out as much emotion as they have into their music for their fans, I think they deserve the honesty and sincerity of their fans feeling upset at the fact it is coming to an end. When you lose something, the more meaningful it is, the more it hurts. This really hurts.
But that's why I fell in love with this band, that's what made them different from everything else I was hearing, and that's why they're so important to me. They made me feel something remarkable at a time in my life when nothing else felt good at all. They helped me make sense of not only the world, as fucked up as it was, but myself as well.
Thursday wasn't just a band to me. They were the band. They generated a spark in me which fueled a passion for music that I pray never, ever fades. I became a rabid fan, I became a critic, I made wonderful friends, I got to know my heroes, I started my own record label, and now here I am, and now here you are, reading this.
It is all because of this band. That is not an exaggeration. It all goes back to them.
Sometimes, all you need is a spark.
One of my favorite things to come from the band isn't even a lyric or a song. It's a line from where Geoff takes a moment to talk during the Five Stories Falling live performance. Geoff is giving the story behind "Standing On The Edge of Summer", telling the audience about coming to terms with the fact that his grandmother was nearing death.
And in that brief explanation of the song, he says, "It's about realizing how young you are, but how quickly you can go."
Moments like that change you. Music isn't stagnant. It does not exist in a vacuum. As you grow, the ways in which you relate to songs changes. There are lines off of Full Collapse and War All The Time that I understand and appreciate so much more now, having gone through everything I have, than I did upon first listen. This band has always been full of awareness and wisdom, and I as continue to learn the lessons that life teaches, more often than not there is something in a Thursday song I can tie it all back to.
Driving in your car, miss the stop sign, fall in love, just to get knocked down...
Growing up with this band made me realize a lot of things. I can only hope that the current generation of listeners is fortunate enough to find some artist that becomes for them what Thursday became for me. These guys found a way to make music transcend being a listening experience, and become a living experience. For that, I am forever grateful and thankful in a way that these words cannot adequately describe.
Thank you, so much, for the music and the memories you have given me. It made a difference. It made me better.
Thursday calling it quits is going to leave a hole in the world for quite some time.