Vermont’s THUS LOVE wants to make you feel something with their joyful post-punk
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Vermont punks THUS LOVE released their debut album in September ��� arriving nearly four years after they began work on it in 2018, shortly after their formation. A spiky, 10-track collection of introspective bangers, Memorial conjures melancholy, pain, and joy over bristling post-punk. Finally sharing it with the world “felt like a weight off our shoulders,” says drummer Lu Racine.
The three-piece band, made up of Racine, guitarist/vocalist Echo Mars, and bassist Nathaniel van Osdol, has gone from being a staple of the small, but mighty arts community in Vermont to being a Captured-Tracks-signed, band-to-watch in just a few years. The three trans musicians make self-proclaimed “queer post-punk” and quickly bonded over a shared sense of community after finding a home in the sleepy town of Brattleboro. They cut their teeth in that welcoming Northeastern DIY scene, but the release of their brilliant debut album has pushed things further.
Freetime has become something of an issue for the group, as they spent the past year playing shows with the likes of Crawlers, Working Mens Club, and Wild Nothing. Soon, they'll head out for an early 2023 UK co-headlining run with Sprints and M(h)aol, followed by a support stint with Dry Cleaning and a string of European dates. They're even already at work on a sophomore release. “I’ve learnt that everything happens so quickly,” laughs Racine. “You need to be ready.”
Just back in 2018, though, the members of THUS LOVE had “no fucking idea” what they were doing. “We wanted to play music forever, obviously, but we had no idea how to get there. We didn’t even know what we wanted to sound like. We just wanted it to be really loud,” Racine says.
“We made this agreement with each other though,” says Racine. “We want to do this because it brings us joy. We will stop doing this when it doesn’t bring us joy.” It’s something he’s needed to remind himself of occasionally “because it’s so easy to get caught up in the small, stressful stuff." He adds, "Who knew being in a punk band would involve so many emails?“
After teaching themselves how to record via YouTube tutorials and writing songs inspired by Solange, Justin Bieber, Grace Jones, Pond, and “beautiful intricate, glistening guitar music,” the band quickly discovered they had 10 brilliant tracks ready to go.
“It’s really important to not be intimidated by stuff. We approach everything with the mindset of knowing we can do this,” explains Racine. So far, it’s paid off. Rather than split the tracks into a handful of standalone singles to test the water, THUS LOVE went straight to a full-length record. “We knew we had an album, so why not make an album,” says Racine with a grin. “It was this cool realization of knowing we were doing it. There was no going back after that, we were all in.”
The trio were living together in a one-bedroom apartment at the time, which they also used as a home studio to record the album. “It was very cute — three best friends doing everything together,” explains Racine, before talking about it being “a true test of friendship,” as well, with a broken bathroom door and a lot of walking around naked that made the whole experience feel a lot like college. Still, that intimacy allowed the band to get vulnerable. “I remember hearing Echo sing 'Inamorato' for the first time and it was so beautiful. I was literally in tears. I’ve never been moved like that before.”
Racine goes on to describe Memorial as “extremely painful,” with the album finding the “beauty in pain.” It wasn’t a deliberate quest, but making cathartic music with your best friends is bound to inspire some joy,
In fact, finding your own tribe is a thread that runs through THUS LOVE. None of the band are originally from Vermont, but they found each other in the small Northeastern state. “It was a coincidence, but it felt like everything fell into place,” explains Racine. It wasn’t long before the trio were cohabiting the Buoyant Heart art space in Brattleboro. “It’s where all the freaks hang out, and it’s just this wonderful portal of creativity.”
Racine calls that community space “really special and inspiring. Every day I wake up and just feel so lucky to be doing this here. Everyone is so supportive.”
After incubating in their local scene, 2022 saw THUS LOVE head out into the wider world, but they took that communal spirit with them. “Our first tour was this summer and it was really hard, because it was summer, we didn't have AC in our van, and we weren’t making any money, but it was still really great. I remember the first show on that tour — after we played, we connected with so many people at the merch table. At every show, we’d play, then stay up all night talking to fans and hanging out.”
It felt special because “after so many years of manifesting and fantasizing about being part of the scene, it felt like we’d made it,” continues Racine. “We worked so hard to get to this point, but we’re excited to keep doing it.”
THUS LOVE are part of a blossoming wave of post-punk bands, alongside the likes of Shame, IDLES, Fontaines D.C., and the Murder Capital. “I do feel like anything can be post-punk now — all you need is a snare drum that sounds like a drum machine or a guitar that sounds vaguely like the Smiths,“ he says. “I feel like post-punk is definitely more of an identity thing, though. With us being trans, just having a gender feels political.”
He goes on to say that “music is a really wonderful tool to explore identity,” with the communal aspect of live shows amplifying that. “It’s easy to be at a show, see an artist, and feel like they’re giving you permission to explore and be vulnerable.”
Racine still finds performing “fucking scary," but feels that "learning how to be comfortable on a stage in front of many people has been a fucking gift." He says, "It’s giving me a clear sense of who I am, and I hope that’s the case for other people, too … I want our music to make people feel free and beautiful.”
The biggest difference between when they first came together in the Vermont arts community and now — when they're constantly on the road and already busy on a follow-up — is that THUS LOVE is even more confident in their ability. “There’s a real self-assuredness to the band,” says Racine. “It feels really good to know what we want, and know how to ask for it.”
That's exactly what's driving their second album. “It’s going to shred really hard, and you’re going to cry,” Racine says, explaining that it explores "traumas, interpersonal relationships, and heartbreak" over a sound that brings together arena rock 'n' roll and '90s alt. While it may sound like an intense direction for the group, rest assured, "You’re still going to groove to it.”