February 2, 2023 Interview – Tucker Rule of Thursday & L.S. Dunes
The last few years have been less than ideal for almost everyone. Normalcy has been turned on its head, human connection has been frayed at the seams, and all forms of art have significantly suffered… including music. A time in modern history where live concert events ceased to exist for nearly two years, fortunately through all the disarray some bright spots arose. Making the most of their time, Guitarist Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance), Guitarist Travis Stever (Coheed & Cambria), Vocalist Anthony Green (Circa Survive), Bassist Tim Payne (Thursday), and Drummer Tucker Rule (Thursday) joined forces for something entirely new with the formation of L.S. Dunes.
A band that took shape amidst all the chaos, the songs of L.S. Dunes are a reflection of the anxiety everyone is experiencing. Melodic, at times melancholy, but overall beaming a sense of home in a dark time, their debut album Past Lives hit the ground running back in November of 2022. Riding high off the excitement of a slew of sold-out concerts, L.S. Dunes show they are not a one and done act as they prepare for the future. Feeling the energy of it all, the accomplished Tucker Rule recently sat down to talk about his career as a drummer, the formation of L.S. Dunes, the history of Thursday, plus more.
Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in Rock-n-Roll music for a few decades now professionally. Finding success with Thursday, you also worked with other bands and are now a part of L.S. Dunes. Briefly tell us, how would you describe your journey in music to this point?
Tucker Rule – I started playing the drums when I was eighteen, absolutely fell in love with the inspiration, and had the discipline to practice by myself. I grew up a sports person so I was able to understand what it was like to play as a team, which is basically the same as a band. I gave up sports for skateboarding, which is a very singular thing. That is what got me into playing the drums and being able to practice by myself.
I just got obsessed with the drums and loved it. I was good at memorizing music and pieces. I would go to shows and I would just watch the drummer constantly; I loved the interaction between the crowd and the band. Being from the Hardcore scene, the crowd and the band were almost the same thing. There was a stage there, and it was there just to elevate us, but we were all one entity working together, feeding off one another. We started Thursday and we wrote some songs that we really liked that made our hair stand up as we were writing. I never expected to do anything like this professionally. I didn’t set out to be a professional musician, set out to tour the country, or do anything like this. Now it’s all I think about, all I can do, and all I want to do. Through Thursday I have gotten to play with several other bands and I get to talk to people like you, which is amazing. I’m very grateful to be in the position that I’m in and grateful that I stuck it out. This is a hard industry. I always say music is not a gentle lover. It’s very cut-throat and you have to be a real cockroach to stick it through. I think myself and all my bandmates are all cockroaches in the best way possible.
Cryptic Rock – It’s pretty amazing how it all came together for you. It is also compelling to hear you started at a late age when you were eighteen. What led you at eighteen to say you were going to pick up drumsticks?
Tucker Rule – We started a band in our senior year of high school; myself and my friends Tom Keely (who plays in Thursday with me), Mike, and Brandon. I was the singer, it was a Hardcore band, and we covered a couple of Chokehold songs… one of our favorite bands at the time. I realized I just didn’t have what it took to be a singer and my friend Mike didn’t have what it took to be a drummer, so we traded for that first and only practice we had. I said, I think I can figure this out. I wasn’t good, but I had a natural understanding of rhythm without knowing it. He sold me the drum kit for $600 dollars. I borrowed the money from my mom and she said to me, “What do you mean you want to play the drums?” I told her I think I can do it, and she said, $600 is a lot. I convinced her to let me borrow the money from her and promised her I was good for it; she knew I was good for it, I’m her son. She gave me the $600 and I literally don’t think I’ve gone for more than a couple of days of not playing since then.
Cryptic Rock – That is a great story. So, let’s talk about Thursday for a minute. Thursday is a really unique band. You came out when the Emo scene was rising, but Thursday stood out. Thursday had a very different sound and attracted listeners that might have not listened to that genre. Tell us a little bit about the ideology behind Thursday and the great music you have made?
Tucker Rule – Thank you very much. Like I said, coming from the Hardcore Punk scene, we liked all kinds of music, and heavy music. We always prided ourselves to be able to play with a band like Saves the Day, but also a band like Converge, Sick of it All, or Agnostic Front. We pride ourselves on being able to do both. I remember in the early 2000s we headlined a festival called Hellfest, which is basically a bunch of Hardcore bands. Then you had us which was “Emo,” but people stuck around, watched the show, and went nuts.
We always prided ourselves on being able to cross over into genres of heavy music. We never set out to be an Emo band, but people like to put music in a box. I get it, everyone needs that nice tidy little thing. To us, Emo was more of a haircut than a style of music. We always went toward the style of music.
Cryptic Rock – Right, and Thursday did not fit in a box. For many, the first song heard from Thursday was “Understanding in a Car Crash.” That song really caught your attention as something unique. There is just something atmospheric about Thursday’s music and depth.
Tucker Rule – Thank you! Steve (Pedulla), our guitar player, went to film school and he had a bunch of film school buddies who said, “Hey, when you are in town, let’s make a video.” We literally made a video for “Understanding in a Car Crash” for $2,000 not wanting to put it on TV, not thinking MTV would ever pick it up, or anyone would ever see it. We just did it, Steve edited it with his friends for fun, and it just picked up. It was right at the time we were on tour with Saves the Day which was huge at the time. We were very lucky that all the stars lined up at the same time. It was Thursday, Hey Mercedes, and Saves the Day on tour. People started showing up earlier and earlier to watch the entire show which was great.
We just got really lucky and it resonated with people. I remember writing these songs, we started a band just to basically play in our singer’s basement. Geoff had this very iconic basement in New Brunswick, New Jersey where all these bands would come through and play. It was a $5 show and you could see bands like Hot Water Music or At the Drive-in… any of these bands coming through town would play Geoff’s basement. We thought, let’s start a band so we can play the basement with some of these bands.
Like I said, we never expected anything to happen from it, we literally just wanted to play in the basement. Things started taking off and we got busy, we were like, “Wow, this is insane.” To be here 21 years later and playing “Understanding in a Car Cash” with people singing along is really wild.
Cryptic Rock – It is a fantastic story of success. You have this new band L.S. Dunes which consists of yourself, Guitarist Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance), Guitarist Travis Stever (Coheed & Cambria), Vocalist Anthony Green (Circa Survive), and Bassist Tim Payne (Thursday). This is a ‘super group’ of sorts. So, how did L.S. Dunes come together?
Tucker Rule – Well when the pandemic hit, we realized we weren’t going to play any shows anytime soon I thought I should probably buy some recording equipment. I just purchased my house, it had a detached garage, and I wanted to build a studio in the garage for drums to do remote recordings. I thought, since we can’t play in person, people still want to write music… so if I could record drums, and put it to their music, that would be an easy way for me to make money.
I did that, and through that, I realized I want to write more music and play with my friends. The idea of the ‘supergroup’, to me, it’s just my friend group; I’ve toured for 21 years, so these are my friends. I played in the Future Violents with Frank, so I knew he and I spoke the same musical language. Travis, we took Coheed on one of their first tours 20 something years ago. I’ve always loved Travis as a human and I love the way he plays. Of course, Tim is probably the best musician I’ve ever played with; he literally makes me a better drummer, so of course I needed him. Anthony, when we started writing music together, we always had him in our mind as wanting him to be the singer. I’m just a huge fan of his voice, what he puts into a show, and the way he commands a crowd.
All of us in this band are all or nothing, we do music for a living. We kind of tricked Anthony into being in the band. We recorded a bunch of songs and sent them to Anthony saying, “Hey, these are some of my friends who wrote some music, would you mind singing over it?” He said, “Sure.” We didn’t tell him who was in the band, he came back with the first song and I told him this is amazing. I then told him these are the people who are in the band. It was a really funny way to lure him into the band, because he is a very busy man. He and Frank are the hardest two working people in show biz right now.
Cryptic Rock – It is great it all came together. The band’s debut album Past Lives is excellent. It is very reflective of what we have been through as people over the last few years. What was the writing and recording process like?
Tucker Rule – It was an addiction. The band is not called LSD for no reason, it was literally an addiction. Someone would send a riff and I would send back the drums as soon as possible. I had an infant at the time, so I could only play drums in a 2-hour window in the middle of the day when she was napping. I would get out to the garage, do the drums as fast as possible so I could send it to the next person in line to write a riff. By the end of the day, we would have an almost full song fleshed out. Then someone would send a riff in the middle of the night and I couldn’t wait to wake up to work the next day. All of us felt the same way, we were trying to capture lightning in a bottle. The speed we were going let us not overthink things. We were just having fun, enjoying writing music together, and enjoying learning how to do this process without being together in a room. It makes it really hard, but also makes it very fulfilling. Not only was I scratching the itch of writing music, but I was learning how to record, and learning how to file share.
This band became an addiction and it was something we all didn’t know we actually needed it. I’m just so lucky to be a part of it, to be talking to these dudes every day, and making music. My best friend Gordy did the artwork, it’s a collective; we are all family and working together. It got us through a very difficult time, which was the pandemic. I felt like you could take the pandemic to sit around and do nothing, or you could light a fire under your ass, get moving, and make something out of nothing. This is the band we made something out of nothing.
Cryptic Rock – Right, sometimes there is a silver lining to a negative period. Lyrically the album is very reflective of people’s feelings of anger, frustration, and what life should really be about. There is a feeling of not wanting to waste time. It hits hard, because life is short, and we did lose a lot of time over the past few years.
Tucker Rule – For sure, this band literally saved us all. It saved us from going into a depression, going down a dark path, or whatever it is. We all needed this to feel like we were a part of something again. Being in a band is a very unique situation. I’m Tucker from Thursday, or Tucker from L.S. Dunes… when you take that away, then you are just you. Being just you is fine, you have to love yourself, but at the same time, we are so used to being a part of this thing you created. When you take that away, life gets a little scary.
Cryptic Rock – That goes for anyone, musician or not. Taking away any normalcy from anyone’s life is going to make things very difficult.
Tucker Rule – Yes, that’s where the voids are created. That’s why people fill voids with some terrible things.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. You mentioned how you started this apart, but you did eventually get together. What was it like finally being able to get together to play them as a unit?
Tucker Rule – It was crazy. We got together once to do a little pre-production before we recorded the record and it was the first time that we had played a single note together. We were all nervous thinking, maybe these songs don’t make us feel the way that we should. Then, the first song we entered, everyone just beamed. You could tell that we all felt this feels good and we’re doing something here. It made the past couple of months of making these songs that we felt something when we played them.
I remember when we played our first show, we only had 2 rehearsals. That was a big show too, it was Riot Fest. Time has not been on our side as far as getting together, but our strong point is writing and making music. We are trying to balance the two at the time.
Cryptic Rock – That is good. Beyond some shows, is more planned for 2023?
Tucker Rule – Absolutely. We pride ourselves on being a full-time entity. We also have a bunch of songs we’ve been writing. Hopefully in 2023 we have a bunch of stuff. We have a bunch of songs in the chamber if you will. We also have a couple of shows in Europe in February. We are really looking forward to bringing this band to wherever people want to hear it. We are excited, because again, this is a full-time thing for us. We have our normal bands, but this is now another normal band for us.
Cryptic Rock – It is good to hear this will continue. You mention you still have your main projects. So, let’s get back to Thursday. Thursday has played shows through the years, but it has not released an album now in twelve years. Is a new Thursday album possible?
Tucker Rule – You never know. We recently played in Canada on a twenty-one-year tour for Full Collapse (2001). We were out there doing our thing and reflecting on our past. At this time there are no plans for anything at this time, we are just enjoying playing live shows. As I said, having people connect with the band and connect with these songs twenty-one years later is fulfilling enough.
Cryptic Rock – Okay, well it is good the door has not closed for new music. Albums are called albums for a reason because they encapsulate a period of time. Looking back, the album War all the Time was very reflective of a post September 11th world. Do you ever look back on these albums and think about how you felt at that time?
Tucker Rule – I can tell you exactly where I was and remember what it felt like recording every single one of these songs. My memory, thank God, is pretty strong when it comes to that. I remember what it was like writing the songs and to scrutinize over the notes. I remember every single part of it for better or worse. Speaking of September 11th, I remember exactly where I was. I was at home at my mom’s house, and Tom and I drove to a park. We just sat there completely confused. It was the most beautiful day outside, but there was just chaos around us. It was a very gnarly experience.
Cryptic Rock – Yes. It is compelling to hear what the creator thinks. Consumers associate music with footnotes in our lives. One can imagine as a creator, you do the same.
Tucker Rule – Absolutely. Speaking of recording records/songs, you are always the worst at playing your songs when you record them. They are brand new and they are changing up until the eleventh hour. Write before someone hits record, you are changing the parts. So, you are literally the worst at playing your songs when you record them, which is crazy. Those are the stamps that are forever too.
Cryptic Rock – Wow, that very different and insightful point of view. You seem to be someone who has a very eclectic musical pallet. What are some of your favorite artists?
Tucker Rule – I love David Bowie. Since my daughter was born, I played her a lot of Beatles, which got me way back into the Beatles. She is into Elvis too. Honestly, what I listen to these days is what my daughter listens to.
Anthony put out a kids record called Let’s Start a Band (2021) and that was her favorite thing to listen to in the car. She calls him Uncle Tony, so she would say, “Play Uncle Tony!” We listened to a lot of that. Life changes a lot when you are a parent. (Laughs)