You don’t know about The Thrills? Here, in no particular order, are five remarkable things they’ve already done:
1. Played their debut London show at the Royal Albert Hall, after a personal invitation from Morrissey.
2. Followed their muse to a beach in San Diego, where they sat on a sofa for four months, writing songs.
3. Told their parents they had a record deal and were about to become famous. For a year. When they didn’t.
4. Chosen the coolest band name going ? inspired in equal parts by Phil Spector’s Sixties girl groups and Michael Jackson’s greatest LP.
5. Sparked a record company scrum, designed the best band T-shirt you’ll see this year, been tipped the nod from everyone from Noel Gallagher to Chris Martin.
Make no mistake, The Thrills are special. Maybe you’ve already heard their single ‘Santa Cruz (You’re Not That Far)’, a perfect slice of sunshine and love that evokes the spirit of the Sixties West Coast and the stomp of The Strokes. Or maybe you’ve just heard the buzz surrounding them ? their London show in January this year saw Oasis jostling to get a better view from the bar, Jo Whiley spilling her drink and a fair few disgruntled journalists being turned away after a no-holds barred ‘Sell Out’. Whatever, you’ll be a lot hearing more of them real soon.
Because The Thrills are one band who get it right. Right songs. Right attitude. Right reference points. For a group to casually list it’s influences as The Beach Boys, ESP, Burt Bacharach, but equally stone-cold film classics like The Virgin Suicides and West Side Story, you know there’s something cool going on. A recent fantasy compilation tape they made for the NME read like a Who’s Who of Greatness ? featuring Dexy’s, Jimi Hendrix and Al Green. It couldn’t have been more right if Beck had done the track-listening. The difference is, The Thrills aren’t trying. They just are.
Much of this genetic greatness can be put down to the fact that The Thrills have had this in their blood all their lives. ‘The Thrills started with me and Conor,’ says Daniel. ‘We grew up next door to each other in Dublin. We’d been next-door neighbours since birth, and friends from a really young age. We were both obsessed by music. Being a band was really the only option.’ When they hit fifteen they drafted in schoolfriends Kevin and Ben and, with the later addition of Pardraic, they were off. For the first couple of years they spent their time rehearsing at each other’s houses, learning their instruments and getting to know the joys of song-writing. By the summer of 1999 they’d formed a plan. Since they were all in love with the music of the West Coast circa the mid-Sixties and Seventies, they decided to go one better than booking a draughty rehearsal room and trying to reheat Neil Young riffs. They decided to go and see what it was all about themselves. And so it came to pass that The Thrills relocated to San Diego for a four-month vacation. ‘It was just a brilliant summer for loads of reasons,’ says Daniel. ‘We rented this tiny place right on the beach. There were two little rooms with us and four of our mates crammed in. We found these two big couches outside the house, and a Lay-Z-Boy we found in a skip. We just dragged them onto the sand and completely lived it up.’ When you’re The Thrills, living it up is done to a backing track of Frank Sinatra, The Band, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder and good-natured bickering over which Carole King sleeve rules the most. ‘Everything had changed when we got back to Dublin,’ says Daniel. ‘The way we felt was completely different. We knew this was what we had to do.’ A follow-up trip to San Francisco in 2000 only strengthened their resolve. Back in Dublin, they spent months locked away, transferring the sunshine vibe they’d soaked up in America on to demos, and signed a deal with a tiny local label Supremo in 2001.
The Thrills were on their way. Things didn’t quite work out with Supremo and they parted ways. But by the summer of 2002, word was getting around. (Luckily it hadn’t reached their parents, the boys had told them that superstardom was just round the corner when ? oops ? they didn’t in fact have a deal). All the major record labels started throwing money about, but last year The Thrills settled with Virgin, simply because the ‘vibe was right.’
So far, so easy. But the best was yet to come. After being tipped off by a mutual friend, the famously reclusive Morrissey bestowed his royal approval by turning up to a Thrills rehearsal. Though he nearly wandered into an empty room. ‘Our manager said ‘you’ve got a special guest coming to see you practise.’ When I found out it was Morrissey we planned to keep it to ourselves and give the rest of the band the shock of their lives,’ Daniel says. ‘But then the rest of the band phoned the night before and said they were going to cancel rehearsals and I had to tell them.’ Morrissey came, tapped his foot along to The Thrills sound and asked them to support him on tour. ‘It was amazing,’ says Daniel. ‘At that point, nobody had seen him for years.’ Did they hang out? ‘Yeah, we went out for a meal. It was basically us quizzing him for two hours. We’re all massive Smiths fans. The funny thing was, he couldn’t stand any of the other music we’re into. Then we mentioned Phil Spector and, thank God, he loves Phil Spector.’ But? ‘But then someone mentioned how great Spector’s Christmas album is and Morrissey said ‘I hate Christmas.”
Still, they didn’t let that come between them and in September 2002 they wound up opening for him at the Royal Albert Hall. Not a bad start ? it took Robbie Williams ten years to play there. After that, it was only natural that the band should record their debut LP in Los Angeles, with Tony Hoffer, the producer behind great works by Air, Beck and The Smashing Pumpkins.
Now The Thrills are ready to wow the world. ‘What makes us different is that we’ve come up as friends. When we have day off, we all go to the cinema together. We don’t all get home and then not see each other till we’re at the airport.’ And, just like The Smiths, when a band are as passionate about their record sleeves and T-shirts as they are about the songs they sing, you know they’re destined for greatness.’It’s not a passing thing,’ says Daniel. ‘We’re all obsessed by music. That’s all we ever talk about.’ Oh, did we mention all the band are just 23-years-old
Sunshine and love. Get ready to fall for The Thrills.
…Conor Deasy vocals
…Daniel Ryan – guitar/vocals/bass
…Ben Carrigan – drums
…Kevin Horan – keys
…Padraic McMahon – bass/vocals/guitars