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First there was two, then there was four, and promptly followed a tour. Ok, I didn't mean to rhyme, really. More I was pointing out that, finally, after nearly a year between releases we have the complete Alchemy Index available for enjoyment. Thrice knew what they were doing with the Elements and did it well. The Index managed to pull from four completely different sectors of their musicianship and perfect each one.

Recently, the band came to town and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to sit down with Dustin (lead vocals). As part of the brains behind this project, I knew we'd have lots to talk about:

Hybrid Magazine: Was The Alchemy Index a major revolution or change for the band? Perhaps the birth of a new band?

Dustin: It just popped into my head one day. It went through a bunch of different phases of being an idea and being an idea that we were all set on doing but in different ways. I think it is definitely good for us on a level, being something different for us, being a challenge, and allowing us to explore some different areas. It's definitely been a very unique situation. This all started with the idea and then we wrote towards that.

HM: With so much music being conceived, was it just easier to do 4 EPs as opposed to 2 LPs?

Dustin: I don't know if it's easier, but I do think it's kind of interesting and cool because naturally and historically the full length didn't exist. Then the CD came out and you had 80 min, so people are suddenly "ok I have to fill this space." There's no reason to fill that space, just because it exists. I think smaller format [releases] are actually more natural. I don't think we'll ever do a full length record that's over 10 songs again. As a listening piece, once you start getting over a certain length, you start to lose where you started at.

HM: What do you see as the main differences between Vheissu and Alchemy?

Dustin: I think Alchemy and Vheissu are more connected than Vheissu is with the previous record. I think that's where the largest shift is. Even though these records are very different, it's kinda for a purpose. But I think that the general vibe is similar to Vheissu. We're for once all not worrying what anyone thinks about it or what we've played in the past. We're becoming more interested in melody and mood now. Not just looking at a riff and writing a song around it.

HM: If someone heard Thrice for the first time through "Earth" - which is melodic and acoustic - would they be safe to call it a new direction?

Dustin: I don't think that "Earth" is a projection of where we're going. I think it's probably furthest from it actually. I do think that doing that and me doing my solo stuff has been encouraging me to be more expressive vocally in a way that's more natural for me to sing. I feel that we've been gradually incorporating more of a live feeling to everything, both musically and vocally.

HM: Someone has coined the phrase "Thrice elements" - but what would you identify as those elements?

Dustin: I have no idea. I think it happens with bands that are evolving and trying to push themselves. I think its ends up defying categorization, the longer that they're a band. For us, you'd have to look at different points as a band in our history to say that these are the elements that make Thrice. If you're going to look at the whole history I think what stands out are the fact that it's always been melodic, even when it was heavier. I think the fact that I put a lot of focus on my lyrics, that's been something that people have grabbed onto over the years. And then I guess the sense of us trying to do something different and push ourselves to make it interesting.

HM: Digital revolution - how do you manage to keep fans buying physical albums?

Dustin: We're releasing the vinyl soon. Hopefully people will be into that. It's going to be four 10 inches in a book type of thing. A little more of an expensive piece, but it'll have extra liner notes and a digital download. I'm really into pushing it both directions, going back and doing some vinyl stuff, but also having the digital. CDs just aren't really the ideal form anymore, but records are really awesome and tactile.

HM: How's the overall response been now that Index is complete?

Dustin: I felt like people, even if they liked the first half, they got it more when they saw it in context. Which is cool, because it's definitely a whole thing to us. I think each part works on its own, but seeing it all together is the way I think it was meant to be enjoyed. We broke it up so that people could experience each part more fully, and then really be able to comprehend the whole better, rather than being overwhelmed by 24 songs at once and only being able to kind of get it. I think that a lot of people really appreciate the time we put into it and how varied and detailed it is.

HM: You've generally donated a portion of album sales in the past - any donated from Alchemy?

Dustin: We're donating a percentage to Blood Water Mission. It is an organization that tries to get clean drinking water and AIDS relief to people in Africa. They help in a way that's sustainable in the community, instead of just throwing a bunch of money at the problem, they empower the community to take care of these problems themselves and feel a sense of ownership.

This album (or set of albums) is one of the most creative, innovative and brilliant pieces of music I've seen. There should not be any doubt as to the knowledge and musicianship that Thrice has as a band and as individuals. This definitely birthed tons of new diehard fans.

For Dustin's solo stuff check out: www.dustinkensrue.com.

-Rachel Fredrickson

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