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Thru It All: Interview

As I was scrolling through my Tiktok feed, I noticed another new and talented band- Thru It All! I found their Spotify, and immediately got hooked by their songs, Sundress and Energy Vampire. I’m so excited to be featuring this OK-native pop-punk and rock band on my blog! 

During this interview, band member Daniel Dew and I talk about the inception of Thru it All- from how they all met, to funny stories, musical inspirations, and more.

Daniel: Thank you for the kind words! The positivity and support from everyone has been amazing. This whole process has been a long time coming, for me at least, and I’m so fortunate and beyond grateful to be in a band with my oldest friends. Energy Vampire is my personal favorite and I don’t want to speak for the rest of the band but…we do close out our set with that song and the vibes are killer every time! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, definitely the best and most thoughtful questions yet! Let’s dive in, shall we?

Aleah: Oh wow, that blows my mind that our favorite Thru It All song is the same, Daniel! Let us dive in, for sure!

Thru It All: How it Started

So, I saw on Instagram that you’ve all been best friends since you were 7. Tell me a little bit more about your guys’ childhoods. You’ve spent a long time together, so I bet you have some wild stories! 

Well, Nick and I met in elementary school and have been friends ever since. James came along in fourth grade or fifth grade. We were up to no good in a friend’s backyard and saw him spying on us over the fence and Nick invited him to come play…and the rest is history! I met Doug in band in eighth grade, we bonded over the pop-punk/alt-rock music of the early aughts and hung out a ton through high school, always trying to steal the first chair from the upperclassmen. Doug played a mean trombone and I rocked the french horn. Nick played snare on the drumline and I think James was on auxiliary percussion for a year or two. We took some really cool trips playing music across the country, I could tell you wild stories for days just from that era alone.  Fast forward to June of 2021, When Nick and I started the band (hard to believe it’s only been eight months, whew!!!) James and Doug seemed like the perfect fit since we had been friends with them forever and shared similar tastes.

Fun fact: when we were kids we were obsessed with the show Jackass and would run all over town trying to recreate and sometimes even one-up the stunts on that show, always a video camera nearby to capture. We had our own website and everything and this was all before YouTube! It is a miracle none of us ever got seriously injured.

A: Hah, up to no good in a backyard as friends do! And as for the stealing first chair in band class, that is something that is all too relatable to me! (Except, I was on the flute!). When I was in college for instrumental music ed., French horn was definitely my favorite brass instrument to learn to play on…But don’t tell your bandmates I said so! Haha. In the musicians I meet, both online and in-person, I find that so so many of us are just big band kids at heart.

And hah! I wonder if any of those recreations of Jackass are still in the coves of the internet somewhere.

So, at what age did you guys first start playing music together?

Nick, James, and I (Daniel) had talked about starting a band for some time, and eventually, our parents decided to support that endeavor. We were twelve, Nick got his first drum set for his birthday that year, and a few months later at Christmas, my grandfather gifted me a Fender bass guitar. James had a Paul Reed Smith guitar and a Crate amp with a wireless setup. We had sporadic access to instruments before that age, but they were nowhere near the quality of what we got the year we turned twelve. So we had our instruments, and we settled on the name Less Than Sum. (Which was basically an amalgamation of Less Than Jake & Sum 41) Nick’s parents hooked us up with a really nice space to practice and we locked ourselves away for a couple of months and, before we knew it, we were playing the seminal, eponymous Blink-182 record in its entirety….which I must say was the driving force throughout our development as musicians at that age.

Within that first year, we literally learned our favorite bands’ entire discographies to pick and choose nothing but bangers for our live sets, which got more and more crowded and raucous as we went along. They say I can recall a certain “band” comprised of bros from the football and wrestling team  Entering the realm of young adulthood and all the teen angst and awkwardness that comes with it, as I’m sure most anyone can relate, had started taking shape in the form of lyrics, and after half a dozen original songs were laid out in Nick’s basement, we took a pen microphone from a webcam, a PC from the late ’90s with an early, earrrrrly version of Sonar’s Cakewalk recording software and got to work producing our first EP, which set in motion a lifelong affinity for audio production that the three of us share to this day. During the LTS days, Doug was going to a different school than us and we hadn’t met quite yet, but he would definitely agree that Blink-182 was a very vital inspiration for all of us.

I still have vivid, almost movie-like memories of that era, especially our shows. Around sophomore year of high school, we started branching down all of our respective paths. Nick moved to LA, went to Musician’s Institute, and toured all over the world with pop-punk outfit Assemble the Skyline as well as enjoying a successful and prolific solo venture, focusing on hip-hop and crafting a unique, frenetic stage presence and style all his own. Along the way, picking up on all the nuances of the business side of the music industry and linking up with a wealth of contacts, it is no stretch whatsoever to say that my man did more in ten years than most of us accomplish in a lifetime. James moved to northwest Arkansas and genre hopped from metal band Hymn For A Saint to the world of EDM, incorporating an eclectic blend of 90’s pop, house, and R&B into his shows, releasing music under the name IDNTY. Definitely one of my favorite DJs!

Doug and I both stayed pretty close to home, going to college and working our way up the ladder at our respective jobs. Doug releases solo music under the name Don’t Write Back, and he actually just dropped a record called Good Times and Blurred Lines on Spotify, Itunes, both Amazon & Apple Music, and YouTube last weekend, so go check it out! As for myself, after high school, I got offered a music scholarship to the University of Arkansas and moved to Fayetteville for a couple of years. I felt kind of lost at first, like a small fish in a big sea, and every band I attempted to put together after LTS just never seemed to have the same energy or drive. So I really just zoned in on songwriting and applied what I was learning in the band to the guitar and towards the end of my time there had written close to a hundred songs, a dozen or so of which I’m really proud of and the rest will probably never see the light of day unless I turn out like Rivers Cuomo! (One can only dream.) After Fayetteville I moved home and worked in bar/restaurant management full time, gigging when I could focusing on quality over quantity, and earning a decent living. Now, we’re all back together again and I couldn’t be happier.

A: 12 is so young to start a band together, that is insane! And oh NO, not Sonar’s Cakewalk. That was the first sort of DAW (if it even deserves that title) that I ever had, too, when I was about 13. I feel for ya with that one. Sorry, Sonar.

I will definitely have to check out some of these projects your bandmates are doing, it seems like you guys have your hands in a lot of different genres, that’s awesome.

Thru It All’s Inspirations

A: Speaking of inspirations, what bands/ artists have had the biggest influence over you, both as individuals and as a band as a whole? 

All the pop-punk bands of the late ’90s and early 2000s, specifically Blink-182, and their self-titled album. Nick and I share a love of hip-hop: Outkast, Mac Miller, Kanye, etc. James is into 90’s R&B pop groups and very genre-specific metal bands. Doug, our bassist has all of the pop-punk bands from the early-to-mid-two thousands tattooed on his arms. Right now, at this moment, Hardcore band Turnstile has a record out called “Glow On” that we have all been playing on repeat.

A: That is a wide range of inspirations!

Their Process

A: Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process? Do you have a tried and true way to write a song, or do you like to take your ideas from jam sessions? 

Nick & I sit down with a couple of acoustic guitars and really just do our best emo/pop-punk versions of Lennon-McCartney. So far we’re twelve-or-so songs deep and six months into the band, and it has all felt genuinely very effortless and fruitful.  

A: That sounds like a damn good way to write a song.

What does a Thru It All recording session look like?

So far, Nick and I have recorded eight songs with our good friend Stephen Adwell out of AMR studios in Tulsa, Ok. Nick murdered the drums on day one and we split duties on bass. On day two I finished bass and started tracking guitars. Day Three was all vocals, nothing was sacrificed and we walked out of there feeling great about everything we did. Since then, we have been demoing another batch of tracks ourselves and have attracted the ear of multi-platinum, Cleveland, Ohio-based producer Jim Wirt. (Incubus, Hoobastank, Alien Ant Farm, and many, many more)

A: In the future, do you plan on signing to a label, or staying independent? 

Independent, until the opportunity arises where someone is able to offer or do more than we are currently able to do for ourselves.

A: Awesome. There are tons of benefits to not signing, especially early on. I think a lot of bands make the mistake of signing too soon and then they lose their rights to their songs and end up regretting it.

How has the pandemic affected you as a band? 

The pandemic ironically gave birth to our band and furthermore, if I can be fully transparent with you: brought all of our day one friends together again, which in and of itself was a beautiful thing, the region of the country which we reside was not particularly hard-hit by COVID as other parts, which definitely worked in our favor. We just started jamming again and everything felt totally organic and un-forced.

A: That is ironic! I think the pandemic changed the way we musicians think about our craft. Not being able to gather definitely makes you want to gather.

What’s your favorite venue you’ve performed at so far, and why? 

It’s going to take quite a few more shows to surpass the highs of our first gig in our hometown at DeWain’s Place. The place was packed with nothing but family and friends, the supporting acts were nothing but fire, and our sound guy Matt was on ten!!! 

A: Smaller venues and tavern gigs can feel really intimate, I totally get that!

Energy Vampire

A: My favorite song on your new EP is Energy Vampire, can you tell me a bit more about how it was written?

Nick and I wanted to reach for some different sounds on a couple of different tracks and Energy Vamp was one of them. A group fav I think and I’m glad you like it! Specifically, the eponymous Third Eye Blind album inspired the alternate guitar tuning behind the song. Lyrically, I welcome fans to draw their own conclusions, because I think that’s what music is about. Every song ever made holds something dear to someone, somewhere, if that makes sense. So, given that, most of us from time to time end up having that one person in our lives that only ever seems to leech onto your energy and ends up proving to be a toxic presence in which you are faced with the decision to cut all ties or keep “playing the game,” which never ends well.

The alternate tuning really makes it stand out- I couldn’t quite put on finger on what it was I was hearing at first! And hyper analyzing lyrics is one of my FAVORITE things to do. That’s a beautiful way to intend for your music to reach people.

And my goodness, yes, that story and those feelings still show up in my life, from years ago. The mention of time passing and impermanence, it just gets right in there. It’s very zen, in a way.

It’s crazy to think that plot line-it’s a pretty universal human experience. It feels quite isolating when you’re in the muck of it. Beautiful job putting all of that into a musical context and reaching so many people’s soft spot!

What’s Next for Thru It All?

A: I read that the Irrelevant EP is your first release of many- What are you guys working on now?

We are currently working on getting ready to release EP #2 which we’ve had in our back pocket for a few months now, and deciding on which new song of six that we’ve recently written to lay down in Cleveland next month with Jim.

A: I’ll be looking forward to it!

Which Thru It All song is your fan’s favorite, and which one is yours? 

It’s been pretty mixed between all four songs from our debut “The Irrelevant EP,” but “Puzzles” is our latest and greatest single, at the moment, has been our focal point. 

This is a bit of a loaded question but…What does pop-punk mean to you? 

Giving punk-rockers like us an opportunity to see an outcome in our lives that is both realistic and beneficial: having a life while still doing what we love and bringing the punk to the masses with pop sensibilities and a catchy hook.

A: I’m here for it!

I know that when I spend a lot of time making music with people, we almost develop our own nonsensical language. Have you developed any inside jokes or phrases? 

LOL! There are many phrases over the years but the most recent is “Takwiwi” which is our low-key handle for all things Tequila. Doug’s hair has taken on a life of its own since the inception of the band. It’s dated more than all of us combined. Pizza by Manooch, our home-town pizza joint holds near and dear to our hearts and remains a late-night go-to to this day.

A: Takwiwi- Now that is a good one! Have to love me some limited-edition reposado!

Bahaha, why is it that there is always that one guy in the band with *The hair*? Good for Doug!

When you’re not making music, what are you guys doing? 

Freestyle rapping, playing Tekken, 3 & 4 specifically, trying to sober up James, floating the Illinois River, and exploring Lake Tenkiller, and we spend way too much time discussing our respective romantic feelings towards the opposite sex.

A: Who are some of your favorite local OK artists that you met along the way? 

Our full-time videographer is a full-time guitarist for When The Clock Strikes, also have been inspired homegrown bands like The All-American Rejects, Kings of Leon, Hanson, and The Flaming Lips, even up into the red dirt genre, our good friend RC Edwards from Turnpike Troubadours.

A: I hadn’t heard of When the Clock Strikes- They rock! What a great sound. I especially love the vocals.
A: Gosh, thanks for turning me on to so much good music here! That violin is sick.

Anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

Stay tuned, we’re just getting started and are so blessed to be making music together again, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

P.S. If you’ve followed us up until this point, you’re just as passionate and crazy about our music as we are. Love you all and thank you for the love and support!!!

A: Thanks so much for letting me pick your brains about all things music! I’m excited to see what’s next for Thru It All.

Hell yeah, it was a pleasure! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us!

You can find out more about Thru It All through their official website and the following links:

Instagram

Tiktok

Spotify

If you want to read more interviews with Aleah, check out more on the Fusion Blog, where she interviews musicians, from classical composers to pop-punk bands and more!

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