Culture Clash Extra: The Thermals

Portland's finest chat albums and exhibitions...
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Portland, Oregon trio The Thermals return to album-releasing ways in 2009 with ‘Now We Can See’, the band’s fourth studio long-player.


Released on April 6, the new record’s been explained by the band themselves as follows:

“Our new record is called ‘Now We Can See’. We think it's pretty good! Pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty good. Not only are the songs filled with some of our smartest lyrics and sweetest melodies, but the recording is, for us, another great leap in fidelity (you might even called it hi-fidelity), thanks to producer John Congleton (Explosions In The Sky, Polyphonic Spree), who brought massive amounts of sound and bombastic style to the project.

“We have a new drummer as well. Westin Glass, formerly of Seattle's Say Hi, joins us (Kathy Foster and Hutch Harris) to complete the third (or so) live line-up of The Thermals. In addition to (again!) touring the UK with The Cribs this February we will be playing multiple shows at SXSW in March.”

Positively banging, thinks us, expectantly. Prior to the release of ‘Now We Can See’, coming your way via Kill Rock Stars, The Thermals tour the UK with The Cribs (as mentioned above!). Check the dates at the end of this article.

One of three, Kathy Foster, answered our Culture Clash Extra questions…

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The Thermals - 'A Pillar of Salt'








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Movie

Milk, directed by Gus Van Sant about Harvey Milk, California's first openly gay elected official. I never knew anything about him before seeing the film. He's a fascinating character and it’s amazing to see what he did for San Francisco's (and the whole country's) gay population and gay civil rights. He created and generated communities, understanding, knowledge and acceptance. It was strange to see a ‘70s San Francisco, which had little tolerance for homosexuality. I can't imagine it! Thanks to Harvey. But it’s also sad in light of Prop 8 passing last November in California. We need to move forward, people!

Book

Right now I'm back and forth between a book about Berry Gordy and Motown, and ‘Out of this Century’, Peggy Guggenheim's autobiography. So on the one hand, I have a poor, hardworking black man obsessed with songwriting, who may or may not have supplemented his income by pimping, and ran the whole label and recording studio out of his house with his whole family working there. On the other hand, I have an incredibly wealthy white woman who comes from incredibly uppity wealth, and spends her life traveling and living in exotic places for months at a time, partying and living a bohemian lifestyle, much to the horror of the rest of her family. Two people from very different backgrounds, but similar in their flamboyant bohemian lifestyles and their love of partying.

Album

The self-titled album by Pseudosix – I love it. Pseudosix are from

Portland, and in my opinion should be huge. The songs are so good. They kind of sound like a more-lush, more classic-rock Shins. You should hear this album.

Track

‘Leave Me Alone’ by New Order. Such sweet bittersweetness. I love the layered melodies.

Television show or series

Mr. Show is my favourite TV show of all time! And it never gets old. I've watched it so many times, it’s become part of my language. Being on Sub Pop, we were labelmates with David Cross, so we've hung out with him a few times. I really have to watch my language around him so I don't constantly quote the show the way I normally do! (What a dork!)

Exhibition

The Joan Miro museum in Barcelona, Spain. We just went to Spain for the first time and played the winter Primavera Club festival in Barcelona and Madrid. We went to the Joan Miro art museum. I loved it! I was already a big fan of Miro, but it was incredible to see the impressive collection of paintings and pieces this museum has. One of the first pieces you see is mind-blowing - a 30-foot tall, 20-foot wide woven rug hanging on a wall. It’s an enormous abstract textural masterpiece! Plus there is a mercury fountain, which was also mind-blowing.

Holiday destination

Hawaii. Or anywhere tropical. Although I've travelled a lot with The Thermals, I haven't taken many vacations. I've been to Hawaii three times: twice for weddings and once we played there. Nothing beats being somewhere where you can wake up and put your swimsuit on and feel comfortable. I love swimming in the warm waters, and lying in the sun. For one friend's wedding, a bunch of people rented a house in a rural area, and the ocean was our backyard basically. It ruled! I'd also like to go to Mexico. I've never been.

Gig venue

It’s all about the energy of the people at the show, not so much the venue, but having said that, it IS nice to play venues that are particularly artist friendly and take care of you - Vera in Groningen, Holland; Bowery Ballroom in New York; Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis; Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland; Doug Fir Lounge in Portland; Black Cat in Washington DC; and many European venues.

Live band/DJ

We recently played a show with The Shaky Hands from Portland. They are so good. They have a classic sound, like The Who or The Kinks, with timelessly good catchy songs. Next month, we're opening for The Cribs in the UK. We toured with them in 2007, and I became obsessed. They put on a great show, and their songs are ridiculously catchy and fun to sing. I loved watching them every night. I can't wait to open for them again and see them play over and over.

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The Thermals - 'Returning To The Fold'








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Catch The Thermals (MySpace) on tour as follows:

February (* with The Cribs)

3 Newcastle The Cluny

4 Glasgow ABC *

5 Manchester Ritz *

6 Manchester Ritz *

7 Sheffield Raynor Lounge *

8 Bradford St Georges Hall *

9 London Lexington

10 London Heaven *

Get tickets to The Thermals and The Cribs HERE

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