There wasn’t a Thursday fan alive who wasn’t floored by last month’s announcement that the New Jersey emo innovators will be working with Victory Records on a retrospective CD/DVD package that, as a press release noted, will “tell Thursday’s 10-year-career story from the beginning to the present.” After all, Thursday’s 2002 split from Victory – which issued the band’s landmark 2001 LP, Full Collapse – was the very definition of cantankerous. Mud was flung from both sides when the band joined Island Records, and lawyers were eventually called in to clean up the mess.At the time of the band’s break from Victory, Thursday issued a statement on the matter, saying that the original contract they had signed with the label “stated that any movement away from Victory had to be towards a major label, which at the time seemed like a far-fetched idea to say the least.” Friction had arisen on both sides regarding the packaging for Full Collapse, and, according to the band’s statement, things got worse when the label, “for promotional purposes, had made ‘Thursday Whoopee Cushions’ that they intended to have passed out at the Warped Tour.”
The statement described communication breakdowns between Thursday and Victory’s owner, Tony Brummel, who they accused of caring more about sales than songs. In time, Thursday started generating interest from major labels, and the boys decided to sign with Island, a deal “subject to our getting released from Victory Records.” The band further slammed Brummel, saying that he had “deceived” and “bullied” the act. So to see Thursday returning to Victory was unexpected, to say the least.
“We thought it would just confuse the f— out of everybody,” joked frontman Geoff Rickly. “The line of events that led us back to doing a release with Victory is so convoluted, but really kind of interesting. When we parted ways with Victory, we got our asses kicked. The lawyers killed us. Victory’s lawyers were so strong. So when we started having trouble with Island with certain things, and we were asking to be let go and they didn’t want to let us go – we actually got the lawyers that beat us up from Victory, because they were the fiercest we had ever encountered.”
The lawyers did eventually help Thursday break free from Island; Rickly said the band wanted out after it was told, two months into the release of 2006’s A City by the Light Divided, that the label would not be spending any more promotional dollars on the LP. “We were on Warped, and AFI came onto the tour, and we’re very good friends with them,” Rickly recalled. “And [AFI frontman] Davey [Havok] asked me when our record was coming out. This was my friend, who actually looks for my music, and Island wasn’t even getting it out to the people who love us.
“We basically asked Island, ‘Hey, if you’re not going to push the record, why don’t you just let us go?’ ” he continued. “And they gave us some grief about not being as big as the Killers and Fall Out Boy, and they’d tell us we had a lot of star qualities and that we could be that big if we applied ourselves. It’s just not what I’ve ever been interested in.”
It was a lonely time for Thursday, and the stress of the situation led to infighting among the bandmembers. With no support from their label, Rickly said they started contemplating retirement.
“When we were touring on the last record, I was like, ‘We’re f—ed – our career’s over. We’re not going to do anything interesting again. Everyone’s starting families. Maybe we’re just getting too old for this. Maybe 10 years will be a good mark to stop at,’ ” he recalled. “But at the same time, I felt we had been given such a good opportunity, and I wanted to deliver a few more albums that touched people, or at least try to.”
During the split with Island, Rickly said his lawyers told him that, despite all of the acrimony, Brummel still spoke fondly of his band.
“It’s funny because after we got off Victory, [Tony] sent us the royalty checks more regularly than anybody else we know,” he said. “It was weird. They were like, ‘Yeah, he still talks about you guys positively.’ And that was strange for us because it was so f—ed up at the end there.”
Thursday decided to sit down with Brummel, and after a few discussions, they decided to release their forthcoming DVD through Victory.
“It just makes sense,” Rickly said. “Because he owns the publishing on the Full Collapse songs, we’d be working with him on the DVD no matter where we did it. A lot of the footage is Full Collapse -heavy because that was one of the most interesting times in the band. We realized it would be better to work with him, not against him.”
But Thursday’s deal with Victory doesn’t extend past the forthcoming, yet-untitled CD/DVD package, which will be in stores in October. The set, which the boys are working on with Sal Villanueva and Tim Gilles, who worked on Full Collapse, will include a full-length feature DVD, containing interviews with the band and archived live footage, along with some behind-the-scenes clips. The companion CD will include three new tracks and several unreleased and live songs.
Thursday’s next studio effort, which they’re currently writing material for, could end up on another label altogether.
“We’ve met with a bunch of people,” Rickly said. “We’ve had interest from Ferret, Atlantic, Fueled by Ramen. We want to meet with everybody. I’m really interested in Saddle Creek and Epitaph – I love those labels.
But signing with Victory isn’t out of the question. “We even spoke with Koch Records and talked about signing with Death Row Records, of all places,” he said. “How crazy is that?”