This feature appeared in Amplifier Magazine, October 2007
“Teenager is an album about youth and growing up” declares Thrills singer/songwriter Conor Deasy. As for the two pubescent juveniles in the throes of passion which adorn the Dublin based indie-pop band’s new album cover, Deasy notes “That’s not me on the bed! I just didn’t want the art to be cryptic like our last one…”
No great album goes unplanned. Deasy and his cohorts Daniel Ryan (guitar/bass), Ben Carrigan (drums), Kevin Horan (keyboards) and Padraic McMahon (bass/guitar) set out render a collection that will stand the test of time. Integral to achieving this goal was to bolt the sunny, safe Southern Californian environs of their previous two releases (So Much For The City and Let’s Bottle Bohemia) in favor of a derelict area in the Gastown district of Vancouver BC.
“Sometimes those juxtapositions work” says Deasy, whose vocal character and tone on Teenager could easily be mistaken for Flaming Lips’ mastermind Wayne Coyne. “I like the fact that we didn’t know anyone there.”
The Warehouse Recording Studio, which is owned by Canadian rock super-star Bryan Adams and was recommended to the Thrills by their former tour mates REM, was once a morgue and allegedly inhabited by ghosts. “It was perfect for the big 1980s rock snare sound” enthuses Deasy. “We had to build a makeshift small room within the big room – the last week we were in the haunted basement studio.”
Otherworldly interference aside, producer Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air, Smashing Pumpkins), who also helmed the band’s debut, was an important catalyst. Hoffer and the band chose eleven of the best songs from over the thirty that were recorded. “He’s very loyal, hard- working, and funny. This was our ‘difficult’ album – not a record finished in one breezy session. One of Tony’s rules is that anything recorded after 1 a.m. is unlikely to sound good the next day – though there are exceptions. If we didn’t catch a song quickly, we’d move on to something else, or go get lunch.”
As the title implies Teenager froths with the conflicts most adolescents face: loss of innocence, anxiety, and youthful optimism. Many of the tracks take on an orchestral bent via layered vocal harmonies, mandolins, wailing harmonicas, bravura motifs, swift swinging rhythms, fluttering piano trills, and the occasional anthem – all signature of the range of emotions in an age when hormones rage.
Written mostly in Co Wexford in the South East corner of Ireland, Deasy demoed a few songs at first, and for others, he simply worked on them in the flesh along with the band members. “That’s when the years started disappearing” recalls Deasy.
After sharing the stages in major venues with the likes of the aforementioned R.E.M, U2 and Oasis, The Thrills are primed to make a lasting impression stateside. Reviews of Teenager, which was released in Europe this past summer, have been nothing short of worshipful in all the major rock rags across the pond.
Taking all the accolades in stride, Deasy draws a deep breath. “I was definitely quite hard on myself this time around.” Did he set that new standard for the band and himself? “Yes, we achieved it!”
The Thrills Teenager will be released on October 23, 2007 by Capitol Music Group