The Yorkshire-based act Thine were a forward thinking rock/metal act with a severely melancholic soul, cut from the same stylistic cloth as Katatonia and their English countrymen in Anathema. The band never achieved similar acclaim or success, however, despite releasing a duo of incredibly rich and textured full lengths, culminating with the epic In Therapy release in 2002 before entering a period of exiled silence.
Yet, as detailed by founding guitarist Paul Groundwell, Thine never actually broke up, and have actually re-entered the songwriting 'n studio game, gearing up to issue their first collection of new songs in over a decade, The Dead City Blueprint, in September. Cape Cod Rock was able to score an exclusive chat with Groundwell to talk a little history and shop about the career of Thine: one of the UK's unsung heroes of memorable millennial metal.
PAUL GROUNDWELL: Band-wise, we liked Anathema from their earlier days, and respected their music a lot-the same with Katatonia-so likely some of these elements found their way into the writing. I don’t remember us paying much attention to what was going on in metal, and certainly not rock. I just liked the combination of a basic rhythm guitar with melodic lead on top. We’re actually from a black metal background as strange as that may seem, as well, or bands such as Ved Buens Ende-plus many other genres between us-so any commercial rock happening or trend of the time really didn’t come into the equation much, as we would then likely have headed in another direction instead.
CAPE COD ROCK: Thine’s In Therapy was one of my favorite records of 2002; an album whose impact continues to affect me years after its release. What do you recall from the days leading up to In Therapy, specifically with regards to how the songwriting was taking shape from the debut, A Town Like This? Did you feel satisfied with how In Therapy portrayed the band’s shifting sound at the time, moving a bit more rock inspired and atmospheric when compared to the heavier debut tones?
Thanks for the kind words. I remember after our first album, so mid-later ’98, quickly writing about 45 minutes worth of songs which were 90% just clean guitar, and much more compact than the experimentation of the first album. It was more like The Doors and also like the old classic song, "Blue Moon", I remember. Eventually though, a rock element was brought in, perhaps as a result of Soundgarden, and even some REM, I think. I do remember a song I was inspired by was "Cold Seed" by Tiamat; just stripped down, basic structure, catchy lead melody, nothing wasted...but I left the goth stuff out.
I actually think part of the shift in style was from a review of A Town Like This which perhaps indirectly suggested that we didn’t know how to write songs, because of the nature of those tracks; so I took that challenge on board a little….And whether we were satisfied? Perhaps a few reservations from others about what we had created initially, but I sensed there was a real stark honesty about it which had been captured, but also an accessibility, and that people would relate to that…plus I liked the interesting contrast of really dark lyrics mixed with upbeat-ish rock songs.
What was the feeling in the band like around this time? Did you feel that In Therapy was building upon a solid foundation from A Town Like This, and how long did it take for you to compose these songs, given that there was a four year gap between records? Did you do a lot of pre-production for the record, and did the songs come together organically in a rehearsal space sort of situation, or were they written largely at home?
There were various feelings in the band, but perhaps more one of renewal than of progression. We just knew we had some good tunes ready. The songs weren’t created for fun, or to show we “rawkk”; just capturing the essence and polarizing nature of moments and feelings. I think "Deny Everything" was the first song written, around 1999 perhaps, then the rest followed in 2000 and 2001. The final song was "Bleaker Audio", which I remember writing not long before recording in September 2001. The intention of In Therapy was not to build upon A Town Like This, but to be a completely different reflection of who we were those years later, where the chaos of youth had settled, and we had more structure and identity generally as slightly older men; more considered.
With there being a few years in between, it captured a different part of our lives, and we don’t like repeating ourselves anyway. For how mainstream the album possibly sounded, it was in a way a middle finger from us about being pigeon-holed.
We’ve always been like this...damn rebels! [laughs] For pre-production, I know I used my trusty old tape cassette recorder, and I remember us using a 4 or 8 track recorder to do some demos, both Dan and I. We then made a studio demo in 2000, with a couple of album tracks plus another, just to see how this rock style came across, and we were pretty excited with the results. The basics of the songs were written at home though, and then refined/built in the rehearsal place.
In Therapy also possessed such a wonderful, effortless album flow, right until the brilliant closing track, “Bleaker Audio.” Was this something important for you to have, an aspect which you worked really hard to attain during these sessions?
The focus really was just to make an album without any fillers. We originally set out to record 15 tracks, but only 12 made it and it was more compact as a result. And though there have been a few cases of people saying it can initially appear quite ‘samey’, I think the album, as you state, does have a certain flow because of this fact, but we did have to experiment quite a bit with track order to get this right. But compositionally I like to think nothing was there just for the sake of it – was all very ‘to-the-point’, not outstaying its welcome. And when "Bleaker Audio" was written, I knew straight away that that had to be the closing track, and the final piece to the journey. A song of discovery and reflection, from the mechanical/functional to the organic. I thought, “if this is the last thing we do, at least it’s a good song to go out on”.
What can you recall of the actual studio sessions for the album? Were there any challenges or hurdles you had to overcome, or did the process run relatively smoothly for you?
No main hurdles spring to mind. Maybe Alan trying to get into a good place mentally, but that was his journey. It was our first time recording at the re-located Academy Studios I think, but we settled in without problem. It was a strange session in a way at first though, because the first full, proper day of recording was September 11th, 2001, and that afternoon the studio owner said “hey lads, come check this out”, and that was surreal to be watching it unfold on the TV, as I’m sure it was for many, and cast a mysterious vibe for a few days perhaps, as well as stirring interesting debate. Additionally though, a special mention should go to the engineer/producer, Mags, who really helped things flow smoothly.
How did the album do once it was originally released? Was it a more challenging market back then, getting this challenging and unique sound of the day over to an appreciative audience?
For reasons best not going into, it was an uphill struggle from the get-go unfortunately. The album got swamped too, even though press reaction - particularly UK reviews, which were really great – was extremely positive.
I don’t know where we fit into the market back then though-or prior to that even-because we weren’t strictly rock or strictly metal, so it was hard to place us. Anathema were maybe in a similar boat at the time too, or just before, but riding the waves far better! [laughs]
We actually played some shows with them and a classic band from around here called Ship of Fools at album release time, and the crowd there was certainly very appreciative.
Why did we never hear anything from Thine after this record? Is it a possibility that we could hear new music, or are there any recorded ideas for a third LP still as yet unreleased?
Well, it's puzzling that so many years passed, because we never truly split. Sure, people kind of went and did their own things, but all these years, personally, I kept on writing and we still had at least a little contact between some of us. Dan left for a while to do other bands before returning to get things moving towards full force again. Alan took a break. When momentum gets sucked out of you though, it takes a while to gain your breath.
We kept playing shows up until around 2005/6, and I think we’d actually planned on recording the third album as far back as 2004 or 5 too, but that never happened, even though we recorded some drums I remember. We then made a couple of rough demos, so it was slowly ticking over, and I think we knew that a time would come when we’d re-group to make another album, as is the case now.
We are putting the finishing touches to the new one, The Dead City Blueprint, which will be released September.
Despite all the songs composed in the interim though, the majority of these were written just last year, after a new & unforeseen thread of inspiration surfaced.
How has the album resonated with you today?
PAUL: I still think there are a lot of very strong and quite catchy tracks on there, and not much I’d change. Doesn’t particularly sound dated either. It doesn’t resonate hugely, because it is an old part of our lives containing expressions and moments which I don’t associate too much with these days. I have a personal link sure, but not so much a nostalgic one, unlike the listener, where it perhaps more marks a point of their life, and a trigger. This was just a time of creation and development for us, but I know it is an album of integrity, and I'm proud of that.