The Thermals are an indie/pop-punk band based in Portland, Oregon, United States. The group was formed in 2002.
Their debut LP, More Parts Per Million, was conceived and recorded in the kitchenette of singer Hutch Harris's house, known as "The Moss Motel", in southeast Portland, Oregon. The album was recorded on a 4-track cassette machine, with total tracking costs around $10. A demo of the record was passed from Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie, The Postal Service) to indie giant Sub Pop Records, who signed The Thermals after they had played just a handful of shows. MPPM was then mixed by Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla at The Hall Of Justice in Seattle, Washington. Sub Pop released the record in March 2003. The original live line-up of The Thermals consisted of Kathy Foster (who had collaborated with Harris on various musical projects for years prior) on bass, Jordan Hudson (M. Ward, Operacycle) on drums, and Ben Barnett on guitar. Harris sang, flailed about, and occasionally stripped naked onstage. Barnett left the group after the first few tours for MPPM, Harris picked up a guitar, and The Thermals became what is commonly known as a power trio.
Harris, Foster and Hudson returned to Seattle in the early winter of 2004, to record their second album, Fuckin' A. They re-teamed with Chris Walla, who manned all recording and mixing duties this time around, at Seattle's famed Avast studio. Released in July 2004, The Thermals toured the US and Europe relentlessly in support of Fuckin' A, before returning to Portland to record their unreleased, or "lost" LP with Joanna Bolme (The Jicks), at the original Jackpot Recording Studio. The album was tentatively titled We Sleep In A Holy Bed, and has yet to see the light of day. Harris and Foster split with Hudson soon after, in the fall of 2005. No less than three people would play drums for The Thermals over the next three years, including Caitlin Love, Lorin Coleman, and even Kathy Foster herself.
For their third record, The Body, the Blood, the Machine, Hutch Harris and Kathy Foster hired Brendan Canty of Fugazi to produce. Canty had recently recorded a Thermals song for his Burn to Shine series, in which indie bands perform at a house slated to be burned by the fire department. TBtBtM was recorded at Supernatural Sound in Oregon City, with Foster playing drums on all tracks, and splitting bass duties with Harris. The album (loosely) tells the story of a young couple who must flee a United States governed by fascist faux-Christians. TBtBtM was released in August 2006, and subsequently featured in many Best-Of-2006 lists, including Pitchfork, Spin, NPR, and The Onion's A.V. Club. The Thermals toured for close to two years following TBtBtM's release, and were briefly a four-piece again (Harris, Foster, Coleman, and Joel Burrows on second guitar). This line-up dissolved in early 2008, and Hutch and Kathy set about making another record as a duo.
After an amicable split with Sub Pop, the band signed with iconic Northwest label Kill Rock Stars, recently relocated to Portland, Oregon. In April 2009 The Thermals released their fourth album, Now We Can See. Now We Can See was recorded by John Congleton (Explosions in the Sky, Polyphonic Spree) again at Supernatural, and at Congleton's studio Elmwood in Dallas, Texas. Hutch and Kathy recorded NWCS the same way they did TBTBTM: as a duo, with Foster acting as a one-woman rhythm section for the entire record. Westin Glass joined The Thermals soon after the recording was completed, to become the fourth drummer for The Thermals (sixth if Harris and Foster are counted).
- More Parts per Million (2003)
- Fuckin A (2004)
- The Body, the Blood, the Machine (2006)
- Now We Can See (2009)
Singles and EPs
|2003||No Culture Icons||Sub Pop|
|2007||"A Pillar of Salt"||Sub Pop|
|2008||"Returning to the Fold"||Sub Pop|
|2009||"Now We Can See"||Kill Rock Stars|
|2007||Insound Tour Support 2.0||Insound|
|2008||LIVE at the Echoplex - December 7, 2007||Kufala Recordings|
|2003||The Wonder of the Underground Pressed On Plastic, Vol. 1||Meow Meow|
|2004||Sub Pop: Patient Zero||Sub Pop|
|2006||To Elliott: From Portland||Expunged Records|
|2006||Terminal Sales Vol. 2: This Delicious||Sub Pop|
|2007||Bridging the Distance: a Portland, OR covers compilation||Arena Rock Recording Co.|
- The band turned down a $50,000 offer for the right to use their song "It's Trivia" (from More Parts Per Million) in a Hummer commercial. Harris commented on the decision in a February 2006 asap article: "We thought about it for about 15 seconds, maybe...it was a really easy decision. How could we go on after soundtracking Hummer? It's just so evil."
- Before forming The Thermals, Hutch Harris and Kathy Foster played together in the bands: Haelah, Urban Legends, and Hutch and Kathy. Kathy Foster also currently plays for the All Girl Summer Fun Band.
- The Thermals (official website)
- The Thermals at MySpace
- The Thermals at Sub Pop Records
- The Thermals on FreeIndie
- "A Pillar of Salt" artist commentary
- "Unraveling the Thermals", a March 2003 article from Willamette Week
- The Thermals Interview with Kathy Foster at Aural States (May 2009)
- The Thermals Interview with Hutch Harris at Aural States
- 2007 The Thermals Interview at Bandega.com
- Interview: The Thermals Interview by Jason Crock at Pitchfork Media
- Interview explaining The Body, The Blood, The Machine from Oct. 2006 on Aversion
- The Politics of Punk: Interview with The Thermals with the Center for American Progress
- The Thermals' Kathy Foster Gets Lasso'd
- Soundcrank Podcast Hosted by The Thermals
- Why aren't "post-pop-punks" The Thermals hotter? Interview by Joshua Ostroff at AOL Music Canada
- The Thermals CC Interview
- The Thermals interview April 2009
- Spectrum Culture: interview
Biography from Wikipedia