When the Thermals began in 2002, lead singer Hutch Harris never imagined that the band would tour more than a dozen countries in the subsequent decade.
Harris, also the songwriter and lead guitarist for the band, founded the Thermals as a project when he began recording all instruments himself on a 4-track cassette recorder from his kitchen in Portland. Along with fellow bandmember Kathy Foster, Harris moved from Northern California to Portland in 1996, jamming to Northwest bands like Built to Spill and Nirvana along the way.
Before the Thermals had even played a show, prominent Northwest label Sub Pop Records heard their demo and contacted them about coming up to Seattle, where they would eventually sign a record deal.
“I think our second show was playing for the staff of Sub Pop,” Harris tells EW. “So that was crazy.”
In the timeline of pop-punk music, the Thermals were born too late to share the buzz with bands like the Ramones and the Buzzcocks, and too early to ride the wave of new punk bands like Wavves, FIDLAR and Best Coast. Today, Harris believes his band has more in common with contemporaries like Titus Andronicus.
When the Thermals come to Eugene for KWVA campus radio’s intimate DIY 21st Birthday Bash, they will play songs from the band’s latest album Desperate Ground. The album, mixed by the same producer that recorded Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth, uses fast music as an intentional retreat to their first album, More Parts per Million.
“At the show, people should expect a punishing barrage of three-minute, post-pop-punk madness,” Harris says.
The Thermals play KWVA’s 21st Birthday Bash with The Crash Engine, Grizzly and Arctic Flowers 7 pm Saturday, May 17, at The Boreal; $8 general public, $5 UO students. Tickets available at http://wkly.ws/1r0.