By Ryan Penagos
Thursday/Rickly photos by Brantley Gutierrez
Formed out of the New Brunswick, NJ hardcore scene, Thursday's been creating, changing, updating and perfecting their own brand of rock for over a decade. But long before the band was touring the world with The Cure, AFI, My Chemical Romance and dozens of other groups, singer Geoff Rickly was enjoying the globe-trotting exploits of the X-Men, Spider-Man and other Marvel characters.
But don't be mistaken, Geoff's still a major Marvel fan to this day. With Thursday's new album, "Common Existence," out now on Epitaph Records, we sat down with Rickly to talk about his favorite characters, how Marvel Comics influenced him as a songwriter and more!
Marvel.com: So when did you start reading Marvel comics, what got you into them?
I went on a vacation. It was to visit my grandparents and it was sort of like a retirement community that I was staying at. There was a drug store that had X-MEN, X-FACTOR and I think THE NEW MUTANTS. I was super bored so I picked up the three issues—it was a crossover. I loved Havok. I just couldn't stop reading after that.
Marvel.com: Yeah, I definitely think all of us that are into comics have experienced that feeling.
I just loved the storyline. I got really into it. I kind of went backwards and kept filling in the details of X-FACTOR and X-MEN and eventually collected every issue of X-MEN [plus] WOLVERINE and SPIDER-MAN.
Marvel.com: Totally understandable. Comics can be absolutely addictive entertainment.
That's the thing, man. At the time I thought the artwork was just so striking and cool and all the characters had these really interesting powers…Yeah, I got sucked in and started going to conventions and stuff to meet the artists. I loved Jim Lee, he was my favorite at the time.
Marvel.com: So what are you digging into nowadays?
I tend to read graphic novels or collections now because I don't get a chance to get to the newsstands very often, so I'd like to have a whole contained storyline if I can.
Marvel.com: Yeah, that's the way a lot of people are reading nowadays. And it helps 'cause we're collecting everything so quickly and concisely. What are the recent graphic novels you've picked up or read?
I liked "Watchmen" and "From Hell" and there've been a few others. My friend Gerard from My Chem [Gerard Way from the band My Chemical Romance] did the "Umbrella Academy." I got into that. And "Cassanova," I really liked that a lot!
Marvel.com: Yeah, it's written by Matt Fraction who's one of Marvel's top writers.
The writing is great. What does he write for you guys now?
Marvel.com: UNCANNY X-MEN and INVINCIBLE IRON MAN.
Really? Ah, cool man. Yeah, I gotta get into that man, I'm really stoked.
Marvel.com: So, aside from jumping back to X-FACTOR stuff and Havok, are there other characters or storylines that really stuck out with you?
Yeah, I mean, I love the whole Dark Phoenix storyline. I loved Warlock.
Marvel.com: Warlock came back a couple times. We actually brought him back just last year in NOVA. That really kicked ass. And we're doing NEW MUTANTS again, that should be awesome.
Really? That's great man, I loved that book. I thought that was such a cool, underrated comic book at the time. I just loved it.
Marvel.com: Are you into CABLE at all?
Yeah, I do like Cable. I actually have an original page from one of his first appearances. [Rob Liefeld] was super, super nice at the convention. I met him and he was super cool.
Marvel.com: Seems like you follow books or characters more. Do you follow writers and artists at all?
I follow artists. When I was younger I never followed writers. But Matt Fraction, I would definitely love to check in on. There's this thing I love that I think you guys put out is the, uhm, Jonathan Lethem comic, right?
Marvel.com: OMEGA: THE UNKNOWN?
Yeah! I $#%@ love that one, man! That was neat. It's so cool man, I'm a big fan of his writing. I read his essays where he goes into the OMEGA: THE UNKNOWN and all the characters he loves and why he loves them, and so for me, it was trip to read his authored version of OMEGA…
Marvel.com: Are you into Marvel movies at all?
I loved "Iron Man" and the X-Men movies. I'm into the "Spider-Man" movies…I keep hearing about the Wolverine movie and I'm psyched about that too.
Marvel.com: Do you get to talk comics with anyone in the band or other bands?
at the far left
I don't get to talk comics with my band so much. But when I was producing the first My Chemical Romance [album] and whenever we end up on tour with them, Gerard and I would just go off about comics. We would just get into our own world. The last time we were on tour together, he was like, "Dude, you should join "World of Warcraft" so we can have more talks about comics." And I'm like, "Dude, we're in $#%@ Wembley Stadium. That's the nerdiest thing anyone can say in my entire life."
Marvel.com: That it awesome. You gotta start writing your own comics.
Yeah, well, you know what the funny thing is? Before My Chemical Romance was a band, he [Gerard Way] used to be a Thursday fan and I would talk to him. I knew he did comic stuff and that was our first plan—to do a comic together. Then he was like, "Oh, I have a band, maybe you should release the record or something." I was into it, but I was way more excited about trying to do a comic with him! You know, we never followed through, but I would have loved to.
Marvel.com: Do you think comics have influenced your music at all or the way you approach songwriting?
Yeah, I definitely think so. It's funny because I didn't really think it could have any influence until, I have to admit, that it was Gerard actually doing that comic that got me to start reading again. I was so impressed by the way he did his comic. I went back and checked out the Gabriel Ba stuff. Then I ended up checking out the Jonathan Lethem stuff. I got way back into it. Once I started reading that, I realized it does [influence my music]. The thing that I love about a comic book is there's a storyline going, there's the thoughts going, there's the narrator, there's music playing on the street, there's all these different voices going on at any one given time in a comic book—I think that's a lot of the way the narrative is in Thursday, you know what I mean? It's like we never write a song about religion or whatever. It's about one person talking to another person and having a thought about religion while there's a war going on TV. You know what I mean? It's that thing where there's all this stuff going on at once and then you can jump between a conversation, do an internal monologue in the same song without any real separation. To me, that's an obvious thing from comics, you know? You have the thought bubble and you have the speech bubble.
Marvel.com: That's awesome, that's perfect. So I got the new record, "Common Existence." How would you describe it? When did you complete the record?
We completed it the last week of November, I think. I mean, at this point, I probably have to describe it fully just saying that I think it's just our best record. A lot of our last records had stuff that was interesting, but I do think we lost some of the energy from our first record and some of the urgency and that's a really important part of Thursday—that thing that says "this is immediate" and "you have to pay attention right now" and "I'm introspective, it's not to figure out later, it's right now." I think it's important that we got that back in this record and took all the same chances and experimentations that we had on the last record and continue that, just in a more immediate fashion.
Marvel.com: Cool. You guys have definitely gotten more, in a way, darker and bigger…
Yeah, it's funny cause I think that subject-wise and writing-wise, it's darker and more expansive. It has more scope, but Dave's [Dave Fridmann, the album's producer] production made the whole thing seem brighter. So it's weird because at once it's darker subject matter, darker chords, but it has almost more, I don't know—not psychedelic production—but kind of…bright like that.
Marvel.com: Yeah, awesome. Now, if you were to talk to a hardcore Marvel Comics fan, what would you suggest they check out from your musical library, you know? All those songs that you guys have put out, the records…what specifically would you say, "Hey, you love X-MEN? This is our jam."
Hahaha, that's a cool question. On our B-side collection, there's a song called "Ladies and Gentlemen, My Brother, the Failure." It's about these two brothers that hate each other and it goes back and forth between them. In then end, it has the one brother talking to a mirror and you're not sure if it's his brother he's talking about anymore or himself. I feel like that's a pretty cool sort-of comic influenced song. I think brother storylines have been so crucial to Marvel comics, you know what I mean? Like the Summers family. Havok and Scott.
Pick up Thursday's new album, "Common Existence" on sale now and follow the band on Twitter.
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