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One does not simply have a boring conversation with the Minneapolis local metal band By The Thousands. I got to talk with them on a number of different topics ranging from a new EP to how they got started and even…karaoke?

Article by Tyler Norkunas // Photography by Tanner Morris

John, you got this band started almost 2 years ago, right?

John: I actually did not start this project. I joined on. The founding starters were Dustin and Adam but with this lineup it’s been about a year since we’ve been together.

Dustin: In September.

John: In September, yeah. It started with Dustin and Adam. They were in a band called Dreaming Of A Nightmare. One evening I went to school with Adam while they were practicing and I sat in and heard it. It was a little different. It was a little, thrash metal. Like, definitely older roots. And then a year went by and Adam came back home and was like “Dude, yeah I just got this new recording and you should check it out.” It was one of the songs that we don’t play anymore but I heard it and I was like “Holy shit I need to be a part of this”. It just kinda just went from there.

So you were all in different projects before By The Thousands? How does that come into the kind of music you write now?

John: I think with Louis and I, I think we both understand (each other) a little bit more than I do with Dustin and Adam because we’ve had so many recording sessions and so many shows that we’ve played together. So it just kind of makes it easy, you know? It was such a seamless transition. And I’ve told Louis before that every time I write something I try to picture what his voice would sound like over it. So it’s really easy for me.

Louis: Yeah it’s pretty cool. Cause now thinking back on it, we were what 17 when we first met? So just from how everything’s progressed since then until now. We were doing different projects at different times. There were some times that we weren’t playing together and worked with other people and came up with some cool stuff. I always enjoyed being part of the process but it was never as easy as it was working with him. It was kind of the same deal for me. I hadn’t talked to John in a while and I just saw a pop-up ad on Facebook on the side panel that said ‘Twin Cities Metal Band By The Thousands’ and I saw John in the picture and I was like oh shit he’s got a new band. I checked out one of their songs and it was kind of the same deal when he heard the music and he had to be a part of it. I heard the songs and I just had to be a part of this.

The first time clicking an ad on Facebook made a difference.

(all laugh)

Louis: Totally.

“It was just more incentive that once our shit’s up there to get it. Just to play your ass off and perform.” – John Riviere

What kind of styles of music and influences from your favorite artists do you bring on to your music?

Matt: Probably bands along the lines of Nile. Any death metal or black metal stuff is probably my influence.

Dustin: We are obviously greatly influenced by other technical and progressive metal bands. Other than that, we take influence from post rock, jazz fusion, black metal, and even electronic music. It’s impossible to only listen to metal all the time.

First big topic I wanna touch on is your debut EP release. You guys released it on March 9th

John: 14th.

Adam: It was the 9th.

John: Was it?

Louis: It was the 9th.

Matt: Way to go John.

John: My bad guys.

Haha. What’s the reception been like since then?

John: It’s been great dude. There’s been a lot of positive feedback and everybody has been really supportive about it. There really haven’t been any negative comments that we’ve experienced on any of our stuff. We have a bunch of stuff on YouTube and on the Facebook. We try to post, ya know, enough but not enough to be annoying with it. Even with all the things that we’ve put out it’s all been very positive and very constructive.

Louis: Yeah, it’s cool.

John: It’s really nice cause we all worked…so fucking hard at recording the EP. It wasn’t like a quick little we’re done thing.

You guys were definitely posting some of the process of recording it like a year ago.

Dustin: It was literally almost a full year.

John: It was all the process of writing songs and perfecting them, changing them, re-arranging, things like that. It really took a lot of effort and a lot of time. I think everyone was really proud. Towards the end of it there was a little bit of tension and it kinda got rushed toward the last minute.

Yeah, you mastered it in like 3 days didn’t you?

John: Yeah haha. It was definitely down to the wire. But we recorded Matt, that’s really Matt on the EP, not MIDI drums. We recorded the guitars. We tried to keep editing to a minimum. It’s all us. And everybody put everything into it.

It seems like self-releasing your own EP really brings out more pride than recording it in someone else’s studio. It makes you feel better about the music you wrote.

John: Yeah.

Well you guys did a Midwest tour for your EP almost a month ago. What was your first real tour as a band like?

Matt: Learning experience.

(all laugh)

Matt: It was fun though.

John: It was a blast. Every show we played was fun. The last night of tour in Appleton was a little rough but we had fun still. I think everybody was just tired, ya know? Sick of being on the road.

Wow. What’s life in the van like if you’re already tired after one week on the road?

Matt: Nah. It wasn’t that bad. It was just down to those last 2 days.

Louis: I don’t know. There are bound to be little things that come just by being in a confined space with each other. But really, in comparison with other things I have experienced, it was pretty mild for the most part. I feel like we all get along really well.

John: There really wasn’t one giant thing that was a problem. It was all just really tiny. Like, get out of my seat.

Louis: Or scoot over and give me some room.

Or your foot’s in my face and I’m trying to sleep.

John: Yeah! But, I mean, I had a fucking blast. And I’ve been thinking the whole time since I’ve been home that I wanna be out there.

Louis: Yeah, you get the tour shakes.

John: (chuckles)

 “I heard the songs and I just had to be a part of this.” – Louis Hamel

So what was the best moment that you guys had when you were on tour?

Matt: Every show was really cool. But I think karaoke was pretty badass.

(all laugh)

John: Karaoke was sweet.

What’s that story?

John: We were in Sioux Falls and we ate at this pizza place. The woman who was serving us asked us if we were in a band. When we talked to her she was like, “Oh you gotta go next door to the bar and tell the owner about it because he loves bands and he’d love you guys.” So, we ended up talking to him and we had a few drinks and we were all feeling loose. Yeah. There was karaoke going on and everybody went up and did a song.

Dustin: And then I went up another time with Matt.

John: They did a duet.

Dustin: Yeah. We did a Van Halen song.  I think it was Unchained.

Well, ever since you guys started playing as a full group a year ago, you’ve had some really cool shows. You’ve played with Tesseract a couple months ago, Animals As Leaders at the beginning of the year, After The Burial, Veil Of Maya, you’ve played with Reflections twice. What has been your greatest moment as a band with all of these shows that you’ve played?

Matt: I feel like the Tesseract show was a lot of fun.

John: Yeah.

Louis: Yeah.

Matt: There may not have been as many people there as, you know, the Periphery and Animals As Leaders shows but I think that it was still really fun.

John: It was like a really…rushed show with all the bands on tour.

Matt: We played 3 songs.

Louis: Yeah, we got a 3 song set and all the bands on the tour package had their allotted times. They were definitely a bit longer than we were used to with most shows that we’ve played like that.

John: It was just more incentive that once our shit’s up there to get it. Just to play your ass off and perform.

Louis: It was just one of the best sets though. It was just really fast.

Dustin: And with the sound on stage that night, I couldn’t even really hear Matt or anything. It was just like, whatever! Its 3 songs!

John: You don’t have to pace yourself or anything because it’s just so you can just go off and by the time that you get tired it’s over.

John: I did think that seen all those people at Tesseract from the stage, I mean I’ve played shows before but that was definitely the biggest audience for me that I’ve got to play to. So that was really cool. It was just a good feeling to have seeing everyone paying attention to the music and getting into it.

Matt: And then meeting everyone after that show was really cool.

Did you guys get a chance to meet any of the bigger performing acts of those shows?

Matt: Actually at the Tesseract show, Danny Walker the drummer for Intronaut and Cloudkicker came up to me and told me how much he loved our set.

Louis: Which is super nice to hear from somebody in their position that we’re trying and putting in a whole-hearted effort. With people who are at the level that we’re trying to reach and be a part of, feedback from them is definitely a good feeling. It lets us know that we’re at least heading in the right direction. You know? We’re always trying to improve and evolve.

John: We also got to meet the tour manager for Tesseract and we talked with him for a little bit. And with that show that Vildhjarta headlined on the Studio B stage, we were loading up at Dustin’s old place for practice and I got a random number that called my phone and I was like, “Who the hell is this?” I picked it up and he was like, “Hey, this is the tour manager for Vildhjarta. Is this John Rivere?” And I was like yeah and he said, “We were wondering if we could use your drum kit for tonight.” And I said, “Yeah you can use our drum kit!”

(all laugh)

John: That was sweet. They were really nice. Just genuine when we got there.

Dustin: Super nice guys.

I wonder how many times that happens. A major touring band asks you to use your drum kit.

Louis: They were very appreciative.

Matt: They were also the heaviest band I’ve ever seen. Like, so heavy that it hurt. (laughs)

Any upcoming news? New music that you’re planning on releasing? Shows or tours that you guys have planned?

Dustin: We’ve got The Summer Slaughter Tour coming up on August 3rd.

Matt: We’ve also got Omaha at the Hideout on the 12th of this month.

John: And we have some down time right now and we’ve been working on writing for the full length that we’re gonna put out. We’re hoping that…did we say March? Or April? I guess a release date is tentatively at this point. We’re not trying to put a solid date yet because that’s kind of what happened with the EP and we all got kinda crunched there at the end.

Louis: We don’t want there to be any rush in the writing process. Just take all the time that we need and just have a thrown idea in the air for a date just to give us something to be working towards.

John: We have about 6 songs right now. Three of them are more complete than the others and we’re about to release one of them soon. I think we’re gonna do it in the form of a lyric video.

Are you self-recording the full length album as well?

John: Mmhmm

Alright, well I think I got everything I wanted to talk with you guys about on the table. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me in your studio.

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