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Photos + Interview: Thermals @ SPACE Gallery [May 6, 2009]

Hailing from the other Portland, recent Kill Rock Stars signees The Thermals brought their Now We Can See tour across the country to SPACE Gallery, with fellow Portland bands The Shaky Hands and Point Juncture, WA in tow. We spoke with singer/guitarist Hutch Harris before the show.

What is something that this Portland should know about your Portland (Oregon).
They’re really similar! Kathy (Foster, bassist) and I lived here for a year 10 years ago – ’97/’98 – and Kathy was actually remarking when we got here that there are a lot of similarities: the culture and the people, both cities are a little weird for sure, but there’s a lot of good art and music and food and they both have really harsh weather. I think that they should be sister cities.

Chriss (Sutherland) has talked about you living with him when you were here before – how did that come about?
Yeah, we lived with all the Cerberus Shoal guys. Kathy and I had another band and we were on this little label that Cerberus Shoal was on too and we met them out in California – because we’re from California – and then toured all the way back with them here. We’d planned to move to Philly and it just fell through and then Caleb (Cerberus Shoal/Big Blood/Fire On Fire) told us on tour that if things don’t work out – we had gotten along with him really well and really we were all about moving away from San Jose and leaving the west coast for a while – he was like “Just come up” and we ended up moving up here from the Summer ’97 to the Spring ’98.

The name of the SPACE blog is Have Faith In Worthless Knowledge. What is your favorite/most useful bit of worthless knowledge?
Mine would all be trivia about bad sitcoms, especially Seinfeld or The Simpsons, really good sitcoms I should say.

Do you like Three’s Company by any chance?
It’s funny, I’m not so familiar with it, my mom wouldn’t let me and my sister watch Three’s Company! It was totally banned in our house. But yeah trivia about television shows is in there taking up space.

How does playing a larger city like Boston or New York compare to coming to a smaller city like Portland – though it’s probably a little different for you because you’ve lived here so you have a lot of connections here.
Yeah, it’s definitely different for us, but it really depends because sometimes you’ll have a big following in a small town. Of course it’s rad when you play New York because there are so many people and the odds of you getting a lot of them out to shows is a lot better. So in smaller towns it just takes a while to bring more people out to your shows, but we had a great time the last time we were here, and we have a lot of friends here.

We played Northhampton last night and it wasn’t that packed like a lot of the shows on this tour have been, but you know we never played there, and it’s not that big, so it just depends. But last night the vibe was really good so it was still really fun. Every city is different for every band.

Have there been any smaller cities on this tour that have surprised you?
Salt Lake was really good, because that’s not somewhere we play all the time. We stopped going there for years just because we didn’t like playing there, then we went back and it was really good, and we played a neat place. But there haven’t been that many small towns.

It’s just such a big country! This tour is 5 weeks and still there’s a lot of stuff in the middle that we miss. We don’t even go to Florida. We could do like a 3 month US tour but who wants to do that? A lot of times people just end up traveling really far from other cities to see you play. Like when we played Omaha and people were from everywhere – from cities all around for hours and hours. You gotta remember that when you’re playing, that some people are like 8 hour round trip to see you play. I always think that you gotta make sure that you play really well, because if i drove 4 hours to see a band and then had to drive 4 hours back, if they weren’t good that would be a bummer! When we play in Europe too people will take the train, seriously forever, and that’s really cool.

In an interview from a while ago you mentioned wanting to tour with Shaky Hands before you’d ever played with them, how’s that working out now that it’s happening?

They’re on Kill Rock Stars and we signed to the label and I really wanted to take out KRS bands. We had tried to tour with them before and for whatever reason it just didn’t work out, but then we really wanted to have an all-Portland tour – there’s so many rad bands in Portland – there’s no reason for us to tour with any bands that aren’t from there! We’re gonna try in the US to just tour with Portland bands because it’s just really fun – everyone knows each other, and that supports the Portland scene too.

What do you miss most about home when you’re on the road?
Girlfriend. That’s what everyone misses, your boyfriend or girlfriend. And then your bed. And my cat – I miss my cat a lot. My cat’s totally rad. Her name is C.C. She already had that name when I got her, after she was kicked out of like four houses. She was called the devil cat by this old couple who found her. They bought this dresser and when they opened the drawer there was this cat! They called the people they got it from but they were like ‘No, we don’t want the cat,’ so they kicked her out of that house and then they just started locking her out and my friends took her in. She must have gotten pregnant like as soon as she was able so my friend’s like “We have kittens, do you want a cat?” We went over to look at the kittens and the cat was just the most amazing – she was so sweet. She acts like a dog, anyone who comes to the door, she comes right up to you. So I said I’ll take her. She’s rad, and insane.

Check out more photos from this show here.

Thanks to Mary Phillips-Sandy for the interview help!

SPACE Reader


🕯️ This weekend only! The dance show of the summer is Scapegoat Garden’s Liturgy|Order|Bridge. The Hartford-based company calls upon Black church traditions and ideas of faith, nature, fashion, and experimentation in their limited performance run June 20-22. Tickets available now, presented by SPACE at Mechanics’ Hall. 🕯️