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Thrice: Major/Minor By Dustin Kensrue

Rock Sound
Rock Sound 15 September 2011 at 16.28

The final view of ‘Major/Minor’ by the lead singer. Always the way eh.

Thrice frontman Dustin Kensrue brings our track by track series to a close as he walks through the band's seventh album 'Major/Minor' for the last time on the Rock Sound website this week.

Read Riley's, Ed's and Teppei's guide to the record by clicking on their names and be sure to pick up a copy of 'Major/Minor' when it is released on September 19.


01. Yellow Belly
"Being either a father, a husband, or both is a heavy calling and an awesome responsibility. The harm that can be done even by the most unintentional carelessness is sobering, let alone what results from outright cruelty and abuse. I hope this song will shame those who treat their families shamefully. I hope that it can be a bucket of cold water to wake some men to the hell they are creating for the ones they are meant to protect. I hope that it can also be a warning to those who are not at that stage in their life yet, but soon will be."

02. Promises
"Broken families and marriages are an epidemic in the modern world, and the results are devastating. This song works as a companion piece to “The Weight,” but instead of a first person pledge of self-sacrificial love, it laments the consequences that follow our failures to fulfill those promises. While we as a culture are obsessed with the idea of love, we are terrible lovers when make it an idol, thinking that the ones we love will save us. When they inevitably fail to meet that expectation, we assume the “right one” (our “soul-mate”) is still out there somewhere. But real love is not self seeking; it is self-giving, laying down its life for the other. A wedding vow is not a promise of emotion,but of action."

03. Blinded
"For some reason I’m obsessed with anything that moves with the rhythm that’s in the verses of this song, but it’s not something we normally do. It has a great drive to it without feeling frantic. I also really love the way it explodes into the instrumental interludes. For a in depth treatment of some underlying themes in the lyrics for this tune, check out anything Timothy Keller has written, especially “The Prodigal God,” or read any of Paul’s of Tarsus’ epistles or the Book of Acts for that matter. I like the idea that Paul had to be physically blinded to see that he wasspiritually blinded."

04. Cataracts
"Every once in a while I’ll be out of town and the guys will jam as a three piece and I’ll come back to some gem like this. The song was basically there and just needed some structure and a bridge. It’s always humbling to see the good things that are created in my absence; and it’s always great to be given a fresh awareness of how talented my band mates and how blessed I have been to play and write music with them for so long. I dig the bridge on this a lot and especially the major/minor transition into it."

05. Call It in the Air
"What I’m hinting at in this song is not that our choices are meaningless or random, or that we have no real information with which to make them. The coin metaphor is simply a vehicle to make the point that we have to choose — that everything lands one way or the other. But we so often act as if it doesn’t. As if the coin can be both heads and tails at the same time. If you’re as nerdy as I am, I suppose you could pull Schrodinger’s cat into that argument, but if you do, you must realize that the box will one day be opened, and the cat will be dead or alive. Vocally this song destroyed my voice for some reason. Recording is such a different animal than singing live, and it’s hard sometimes to tell if you are doing damage. I had to stop singing for a couple days because the swelling would start back up if I tried."

06. Treading Paper
"This lyric began with my musing on the relation between the different meanings of the word “mean.” I believe that for something to truly mean something (have significance) it must be meant (intended) to be. This assumption conflicts with proponents of the naturalistic worldview who dance around or try to diminish the fact that that their presuppositions lead to the conclusion that by definition, the universe is utterly devoid of purpose. The “unyielding despair” line is from Bertrand Russell’s attempt to face this meaninglessness and “build” on it. His argument is worth reading because it so bleakly paints the true consequences of that worldview. When I look at the big picture, I weigh what I see of beauty and joy against what I see of evil and darkness, and I’m faced with two options. One, the world is meaningless and beauty, truth, and love are just illusions. Or, those things are real and there must be a reason why evil and darkness exists that we cannot fully comprehend. And I find option two fareasier to swallow."

07. Blur
"In an email during the writing of this record, Riley was describing some slow-shutter photographs he’d been experimenting with this comparison. “They signify a feeling that I’ve been having a lot over the past year and a half, with so many life-changing events happening so randomly, so seemingly stacked on top of each other, so overwhelming and impossible to comprehend. With so many whys and what next and how comes, at times it feels like the speed and instability of things makes it difficult to focus on an individual moment.”This song is an attempt to use that idea and those images to capture some of that disorientation that the four of us have been dealing for the last couple years."

08. Words in the Water
"While I’m a fan of mystery in the imagery of other people’s writing, I usually shy from it myself because I’m so analytical. It feels like a cop-out the way that many people do it since it’s much harder to write something beautiful and clear, than beautiful and murky (or nonsensical.) But I end up taking more mystery out of the songs than I should at times, and in consequence, the imagery suffers at the hands of the clarity and logic. It’s always a hard balance to sort through in my head, but sometimes circumstances force your hand in good ways. This was the last song lyrically, and almost in desperation my left brain checked out to a degree, allowing the imagery to take over a bit. The song still has internal integrity, but the scope for its interpretation is probably far greater than much of my lyrics, I think it speaks more directly to the heart and waits to wrestle the brain till later."

09. Listen Through Me
"The very beginning of this song is very nostalgic for me. It reminds me of a bunch of stuff I was listening to that came out on Revelation records back in the early 90’s. Most people who have followed the band for long enough by now have come to understand that I am a follower of Jesus. It’s the single most important thing about me, so it comes out in various ways in my writing, but it’s something that I’ve tried to handle carefully and tactfully in the understanding that many don’t share the same views, including fellow band mates. This song is one where you can more easily see references to Christ, and it’s point is that real gospel (good news of Jesus) is not something I think most people have had much, if any, contact with. He is largely viewed as simply a good man, a teacher, a sage, etc. He is adopted and adapted by every cause because his shadow looms so large. Books sell millions hailing him as an environmentalist, a psychologist, a hippie, a warmonger, a Republican, a Democrat, and on and on. But if you look at his words and deeds, they speak for themselves, and all of those categories are shown to be inaccurate or inadequate. Look for yourself. The real gospel is polarizing, unsettling and amazing. It is never tame, boring, and inconsequential. Beyond reading the accounts for yourself, if you want some help distinguishing the real Jesus, I would recommend downloading sermons from Timothy Keller, Mark Driscoll, and Matt Chandler to name a few."

10. Anthology
"This song pulls bit and pieces of imagery from six previous Thrice songs; Atlantic, The Whaler, In Years To Come, Silhouette, Trust, and The Weight. Hence, the name Anthology. I always dig little inside self-references, whether in music or film. I was listening to The White Album today and realized that I had forgot that Glass Onion does something similar, though a little less subtle. Most of these six songs directly or indirectly dealt with my relationship with my wife through the years, some even before we were married, and I thought it would be fun to build a song out of the some of the pieces. Also the idea fit the mood of the song rather well. I suppose I could have let you dig through it and figure it out yourself, but you did buy the cool vinyl package right?"

11. Disarmed
"The genesis of this song was a little loop I started messing with at practice on my looper. Speaking of little ideas, whenever I have an one, no matter how dumb it might seem, I record it quickly into Evernote on my phone. That way I know it’s safely stored online in case my phone gets eaten by sharks or something. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for writing because all those ideas used to get lost. I would be absolutely sure I could remember it, but usually even if you can get the notes, the rhythm is mystery. So the way I look at it now is that I’m acquiring material for writing. If I don’t have material, and I sit down to write, it’s rare to just have inspiration hit right then. But if I go back and here this little inspired blip, it jumpstarts me and voila! A song is born. Most of my input musically on these last two records was captured initially in this way. I highly recommend it. In the midst of the death and devastating cancer in our camp recently, the lyrics are written out of my hope and belief that death does not have the final word."

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