Thirdface’s Kathryn Edwards: “We Just Don’t Focus On The Rules of Hardcore”

In a modern hardcore scene that often appears like a well-oiled machine, Thirdface are the snapped belt that takes out someone’s eye. The Nashville quartet have built a solid fanbase over the past four years with their EPs, livestream performances, and dedication to their local DIY scene. But nothing can prepare listeners for Do It With a Smile, the band’s eclectic, enthralling full-length debut. Kinetic and punishing one moment, noisy and multi-jointed the next, the record is a masterpiece for those who feel out of touch with the cultural tropes of metal and hardcore, here for the bristle as well as the bruise.

“Everyone in the band who plays instruments comes with a lot of different sides,” explains vocalist Kathryn Edwards, “and I think from their end, musically, they want to make awesome music to mosh to. And that sounds really simple, but — three of them are in another band called Sallow, and it’s really loud, but I think it’s a little softer. For me, I tend to talk about things that I have experienced, so when we come together, we not only tend to make fun, aggressive music, but with my lyrical content, it’s just enough for us to get all of that out.”

With each band member having different side projects and outside vocations, was it tough getting together to official record your debut?

With this being our first album, most of the music writing originated with David [Reichley], our guitar player, and he’d come up with a lot of riffs over the course of some time. When he came to the band in about 2017 with this material, he was like, ‘I just want to find people to play with. I know we’re in this other band that doesn’t sound like this at all, but I know you guys are interested in this stuff.’ So that’s how that came together. They fleshed out some songs, and were trying to decide who they wanted to sing over this, and they ended up asking me. I’ve never fronted a band before, but we all got together and worked on those songs. Some of those songs are on our first cassette release, A Demonstration of Righteous Aggression, and on this album we rerecorded some of those songs. And some of those songs that started as David riffs and then became whole songs, those are on the album. Really, this album is a culmination of us all writing music together. When the pandemic started, we were on the last leg of being done with recording the album. We finished tracking a couple of weeks before lockdown started. Our album is a playthrough, so most of the songs bleed into each other. 

As a band started to play awesome music to mosh to, has quarantine’s live music ban been tough for you?

Since we’ve recorded it almost about a year, it’ll be about a year between when the album comes out and when it was recorded. So in the meantime, we’ve done a few livestreams here and there, some prerecorded livestreams for various stuff — one for the DIY all-ages venue I run, one for Cvlt Nation, one for Mutants Of The Monster out in Little Rock. So we’ve tried to keep ourselves busy with that. But some new writing has taken place amongst the band. For all of our livestreams, we’ve been able to write new songs. The album is No. 1 priority, but since we have the time, since we’ve already recorded all of this material, we’re already working on whatever we want to do next.

As someone who runs a DIY venue, have you seen any bands come through and thought, Whatever Thirdface will be, it won’t be THAT?

I guess that could come up a lot! We already work really hard at not being the things that we dislike, and not really focusing on rules. Some people focus really hard on like, ‘And this is when the breakdown happens. And this is when I say the thing that everyone in the crowd says back to me.’ We don’t think about any of those sorts of thing at all. I’ve even had some people say, ‘It was awesome, but I didn’t know exactly when I was supposed to do something in the crowd, because you guys are so chaotic.’ And I think that’s totally cool! If you want to stand there and watch us do our thing, or if you want to totally spazz out, that’s fine.’ I guess that’s our thing — we just don’t focus on the rules of hardcore to write our music. With “Villains!”, everyone’s like, ‘Look at the noise rock influences! Look at the powerviolence!’ And I’m like, yeah, they’re all in there, so you can talk about whichever one shoots your fancy.

You recorded the album in a garage attic. Tell us about the attic–how creepy is it?

So down on the ground floor is a general garage, and upstairs is one big room that Shibby [Poole], our drummer, records in — that’s his passion, to record a lot of bands from around here. He’s the only person to really record us, so if you’ve heard us in most things, not all of our livestreams but most of them, and any video that we’ve put up, he records all of that stuff. It’s pretty comfy up there, there are some couches…mostly it’s his recording gear and drum set. 

Got it — in my mind, it was the type of attic you keep a mutant relative in.

Yeah, it’s not quite Hellraiser-y — it’s actually pretty cozy!

Nashville is not a town one normally associates with a band like Thirdface. Does being from there inform your music?

This is something that a lot of people bring up: because of where we’re positioned, our topography, that the weather changes often here. It’ll go from zero to sixty in short amounts of time–it’s sunny, it’ll rain, it goes across the board. A lot like that, the Nashville music scene is so broad. We’re a city, but we’re not massive like east coast places are. So it’s a lot more difficult to have really specific niche music scenes. I mean, you have the older traditional punks who like Distillers, you have those crowds; you have the younger people into hardcore. But the Venn diagrams on those are a lot larger than other places, because there are fewer than us. And with the history we have with DIY spaces and things in towns, they have a history of having a lot more kinds of underground music at them. So you can go see a noise show, an electronic show, hardcore show, doom show, it runs the gamut. So if you’re into underground music, you’re a lot more likely to just go to those places, and you’re going to see a lot of different stuff.

That’s going to open up a lot of minds to having a lot more influences involved, and I think that can sometimes be Nashville’s weak point when it comes to national recognition. People don’t know how to absorb music, because it’s not so structured. Everything doesn’t always follow the rules — ‘This is a death metal band, and death metal bands sound like this.’ You’re unlikely to find those rigid bands here. There are a lot of bands coming out of here, a lot of different genres in hardcore that I do think sit nicely with bands form other places, but the world can sometimes overlook us because we’re not so specifically marketed. We’re kind of just smack in the middle fo a lot of stuff–we’re right next to the midwest, we’re right by the Florida area–so sometimes, it gets lost. 

There are songs on the album inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the anime Fist of the Northstar. Is there a property, like Star Wars or Pokemon, that you dream of writing the great song for?

This is a hard question! Because I’m all over the place with stuff I talk about. Or I’ll talk about it but I won’t push exactly what media thing I am discussing. Right now, I’ve been rewatching Yu Yu Hakusho on Hulu, and I saw that when I was in the 7th or 8th Grade, when it was playing on Adult Swim. I think I’m going to try to incorporate that, because it has all the things that I love — fantasy, underdog street kid, demons, weapons with awesome names — I want to get all that incorporated, but one thing I try to do is not be so pushy with, if you don’t like this, you won’t get the song.

Thirdface’s Do It With A Smile comes out Friday, March 5th, via Exploding Sound, and is available for preorder.

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Words by Chris Krovatin