Brandishing a surprisingly technical sword for a pop-punk band, today we've got a premiere of "The Wisdom Of Insecurity" from Thieves' upcoming EP, Acheiver. The record is due out July 31 and can be pre-ordered here. Below our premiere, we caught up with the band in a few emails to get a quick peek behind the concept behind the album and where they're headed after the release.
Your newest EP, Achiever, is a concept album about facing your demons and becoming a better, more honest person. What events were you facing that shaped this concept?
BILLY CANINO (vocals/guitar): A lot of unexpected things happened to me last year all around the same time. With the end of a long-term relationship came some harsh realities. I was bluntly told how “fake” I was [by the person who left me]. This came as a shock because I've always tried really hard to be a good, moral person. A friend explained that if you live your whole life being compassionate only because you think it's the right thing to do, than you're not actually compassionate—you're acting. I accepted this and instantly created a laundry list of everyone I'd ever lied to. An identity crisis and a whole ton of self-loathing followed. Amid the self-destruction, my dog died unexpectedly and the possible end of my band loomed over my head. I had to accept the fact that I didn't even know who I was and I was losing people close to me because of it.
Around the same time, my sister received some pretty tragic news concerning the child she was carrying. She made a very selfless decision, acting in the best interest of her entire family. I've never witnessed someone make such an intense sacrifice. Suddenly my friend’s words about faking compassion became incredibly clear.
We had recorded a demo of "Achiever" months before any of this had happened, and it sounded eerily like a prologue to everything that I had experienced. I decided to draw inspiration from the events I had put myself through and use it to create a story about the boy from the song who is innocent and naïve. He swears to prove to everyone that he can fly despite the existence of gravity. The rest of the album tells the story of how the boy reacts when faced with the fact that he has wasted his whole youth focused on success, all the while overlooking the love that the world had been trying to share with him.
While Thieves are rooted in pop-punk, the playing on your work is extremely high. What's the impetus behind creating technically proficient music in what is often a stylistically simple music scene?
NATHAN HELTON (bass): I think the technical edge we bring makes the music truly our own. We’ve always tried to do something different in every band we've ever been in, so it was only natural we brought that aspect of our songwriting to Thieves. [Guitarist Chris] Skiles is the only guitarist I have played music with. Billy played in a band with [him] for three years before Thieves, so we were all on the same page once we started writing for a new project. We’ve always had a knack for pushing ourselves musically. I think what we put out helps to push the genre, and that’s great because we’re just writing the music we’d like to hear.
2011's Just Give It Up was released by Vagabond Collective. Why did you go back to releasing independently with this record?
BILLY: Cory Green and Ricky Valenzuela at Vagabond Collective have always been friends before business partners to us. When we started to discuss our next project, Vagabond expressed interest in investing more time into their annual Wild Frontier Festival that happens every September in Austin, TX. The planning for this event is pretty monumental for two people and would be happening at the same time as the preparation to release Achiever. This worked for us because we'd discussed handling every single piece of the production of Achiever on our own anyway. We've always been at the head of every release but working on a concept album seemed like something that needed to have a very consistent approach. It just seemed like it would help us make the best record and both parties agreed.
Cory has offered support and advice throughout the entire process, just as all of our friends have. Vagabond Collective have also played a big part in helping us promote the album and the CD release party they are throwing for us on July 28 in Austin, TX with our friends in With The Punches.
This album feels like a defining moment for us, and releasing it on our own just supports that notion. We're incredibly grateful for everything that Vagabond Collective have done for us and they will always be a part of the Thieves family no matter where we end up in the future.
What do you want people to know about this release and where Thieves are headed in the future?
We did our best to write a pop-punk album that was different from anything we've heard in the hopes that it would lend itself to the story. We’d like for you to listen to Achiever in its entirety because we wrote it to be enjoyed that way. If you dig it, please show a friend and spread the word. We also hope to be able to tour a lot more off this release.