In Conversation: Thus Love

Collective creativity is empowering these fantastic Captured Tracks signees...

There’s just something about Thus Love. Amid the current glut of post-punk bands – the revival that seemingly never ends – the creativity, verve, and personality of debut album ‘Memorial’ has stuck where other, lesser bands have fallen away. Uniquely atmospheric, it taps into the jet black glamour of Bauhaus or those early Cure singles, while adding something else, something other. Live, they’re something special, too – currently completing a UK run alongside Dry Cleaning, the band seem to enrapture all who come across them.

Taking time out to chat to Clash over Zoom, we’re pleased to find them every bit as engaging as the music they create. The mere mention of hitting the road has Thus Love breaking out into huge, screen-wide smiles. “It rocked our socks!” vocalist Echo Marshall laughs. “And the socks have also come off the audience… to varying degrees.”

The band formed around a collective DIY hang-out in Brattleboro, a smalltown in Vermont. Each had their own art practise – Lu Racine’s mother was a painter, bass player Nathaniel van Osdol worked in ceramics – before devoting themselves to music. The bassist comments: “Being an artist is a broad category. I knew very few artists who only work in one medium. It normally leaks out across several!”

“There’s definitely a methodological thinking that you take over,” adds Echo, who also works as an illustrator and cartoonist. “There are similar mutual methodical aspects of visual art, recording, and performance. I also think we think about things in an applied, holistic sense of what it is to be band. So, visual aesthetic takes equal emphasis alongside performance, recording, our lyrics.”

The site itself seems inspiration, a loose-knit fusion of disciplines, working on a co-op basis. Called Buoyant Heart, the title feels apt, as Echo explains: “It’s an old factory building. 100 years ago it was one of the leading organ companies in the world…”

“We took over one building with a bunch of other people in our community. It’s two storeys, so we’ve got a recording studio, a hang-out community zone, some smaller independent studios upstairs for individual people. There are many iterations of that. All these places where freaks and punks, these freaky artists can collaborate in. It keeps evolving as people come and go, and the community fluctuates. It was hard during COVID, but we still have this space, and it’s only getting stronger and tighter over time.”

The pandemic may have been tough, but it afforded time for Thus Love to finesse, and find focus within their music. As a result, ‘Memorial’ has a singular, intense sense of focus. “It gave us this isolated perspective of how your music sounds in a recording setting,” Echo recalls. “It’s cool to finish that process with very little input and outlook from other people.”

Touring, then, has given Thus Love an entirely new sense of energy. The band’s initial shows brought them to New York, aligned with noise rock groups. Shifting to a power trio format, they’ve uncovered fresh possibilities within the music, and themselves. “We play as a three-piece,” says Lu. “So, we have to fill more space. We get louder and play with more fuzz, more rock’n’roll, more energy.”

“We’re definitely very powerful as performers,” adds Echo. “Like, the vigour that we put into playing the music versus how we were playing three years ago… it’s way, way harder.”

A word-of-mouth success – although the evangelism of  6Music’s Mark Radcliffe has certainly helped – ‘Memorial’ has built a cult following of its own. The shows are a point of entry into a quite remarkable sense of community. Highlights included Glasgow’s famed Barrowland Ballroom – “an honour to play there” – with Lu noting: “honestly, the venue felt like a little city! A real Spinal Tap moment. Got lost a couple times!”

“It’s honestly made us feel so good about ourselves,” explains Echo. “Playing in the US is awesome, but we still feel very much like a DIY band. I mean, coming to the UK and Europe… that’s different. We played a show in Holland, in this 150 cap club – no support, everyone came there for us. And everyone knew the words! It was a beautiful moment, to see people like that so invested in our music.”

“We touch every piece of merch we sell,” Nathaniel notes. “We put a lot of personal care and attention into it and it means a lot to us.”

On screen, they’re wearing Dry Cleaning merch – a nod to their tour partners – and while they’re full of enthusiasm for the road, Thus Love are also itching to get back to the studio. New single ‘Centrefield’ continues their journey, and there’s a lot, lot more planned. “After festival season, we’re going to be going into another recording hole, which may or may not bring another record,” Lu explains. “We’ll keep on with these digital releases… maybe there’ll be something over the summer to look forward to!”

Once touring is over, Thus Love will travel back to Buoyant Heart, and re-immerse themselves in the community that has meant so much to them. “Vermont as a whole doesn’t contain doesn’t necessarily like contain vast quantities of people like us,” Echo notes. “Like, I grew up very close by and I wouldn’t say that I knew anybody who was particularly freaky… until later life, when I realised I was surrounded by them! It’s just that they were kind of buried in the woodwork.”

A clarion call for outsiders, Thus Love are building a new kind of community, one show at a time.

Words: Robin Murray
Photo Credit: Ebru Yildiz

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