The Thing is fighting the good fight. The Brooklyn, New York-based four piece, made up of longtime friends and collaborators Zane Acord, Michael Carter, and Jack Bradley, along with newcomer Lucas Ebeling, is hell bent on delivering unruly, guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll to the masses.
It’s an objective that first took root when Acord, Carter, and Bradley began playing music together in high school.
“We would fantasize about this idea of eventually starting a project,” said Acord.
The three musicians dipped in and out of various groups over the years, finally settling into a groove together to pursue their long-held dream in 2022, when they picked the name The Thing because they were tired of trying to think of a name for their “thing.”
The recent addition of Ebeling on the drums has further solidified them as a unit with a cohesive point of view and intensified the group’s live performances.
The Thing has a belief about what music is good music and how it’s made, championing songs that pulse with energy and feeling, that are delivered with raw passion.
“[We believe in] honest music, that you can tell is real. People are putting themselves into it, everything they have, their personality, what they’re feeling. We’re all into that,” said Ebeling.
They also value work that strays from the accepted formulas.
“Anything that pushes the line a little bit, whether it’s experimenting in recording or just songwriting. We’re all really interested in sonics and songwriting,” said Bradley.
Making the New Album, The Thing Is
The Thing’s newest album, The Thing Is, features a mischievous amalgamation of garage-rock guitar riffs, low bass lines, smash-and-bang drums, and gravelly vocals. The lyrics conjure images of life in the big city, chasing the girl, chasing inspiration.
Rather than a collection of reworked older songs, each track on The Thing Is is fresh, and was new to the band when they as they recorded it.
“The first album we had was more of a hodge podge…[with] this one, the intention was really to record everything in one room in one period of time. So we set out a month for ourselves,” said Bradley.
“Having all the sounds in the same room, recorded within a small period of time really creates this glue…the longer you record, the worse it gets in a lot of cases, so our intention was to write and finish all these songs within this month,” he said.
Writing in the Studio
The musicians crafted almost one song per day and would try to record each in the same day. The songwriting process was collaborative.
“Typically we just jam for an hour or so, sometimes more, and comb through if there’s any melody or good groove and sometimes we’ll build off that,” said Acord.
Ebeling feels that this method helps them flesh out any sticky parts in a track.
“It’s cool because it can start like we’re really frustrated with an idea, and then an hour or two later it becomes a really great song,” he said.
Every member brings their own viewpoint to any track that is being built out, resulting in a harmonious marriage of distinct ideas.
“It becomes this different thing that doesn’t define any one of us, it becomes The Thing as opposed to becoming Michael Carter’s song, or Jack’s song, it’s The Thing’s song, and I think that’s the most beautiful part about it…Because if you swapped any one of us out, it wouldn’t be a Thing song anymore,” said Carter.
While the four members of the band have different yet overlapping influences, much of the music they create together feels firmly rooted in the indie-sleaze era of the early aughts: a time when sparking electric guitars, raucous drums, and rock stars with a kind of gritty, confident nonchalance were having a resurgence.
“I feel like it’s a very energetic record in the sense that there are a lot of big sounds, big sections, hard hitting things…and I think especially live that’s really felt by an audience, so we’re doing our best on the record to translate that feeling,” said Ebeling.
The Thing On the Road
The Thing will perform their new work live at Charleston Pour House on Sunday, February 10th, with fellow rockers The Simplicity. The stop is part of a tour that will take them across North America, from East to West and eventually up to Toronto, Canada, before a final show at Gov Ball in New York City.
The band has worked tirelessly to be able to take their music on the road. Many of the members worked three different jobs to save up the funds to eventually be able to pursue music full-time. And that chase is not without its struggles, especially those that come from outside influences.
“It’s nice to get to the point where it is all you do, because that’s the ultimate goal, just to keep things sustainable, but there’s so many other things in life that kind of stop you from doing that. So the more you can push away and keep it sustainable is the beauty,” said Bradley.
“You have to withstand the brainwash,” said Acord.
“Any idea you have, be it music or anything creative, you have to burst through that. The coolest realization I’ve ever made, is just fuck it, see what happens. Obviously we’re very privileged to be able to see what happens and do it, we have a lot of people believing in us, and it’s taken a lot of hard work, but we would be nowhere without people believing in this and helping it happen,” he said.
Rock and Roll Will Never Die
The Thing has a firmly held belief that rock ‘n’ roll is thriving. In fact, “the best music that’s ever been made is happening right now,” according to Bradley.
“Obviously rock ‘n’ roll’s not dead. There’s so many artists doing it, amazing artists making amazing music,” said Carter.
The dichotomy of grinding to pursue the dream but also being at ease with a sense of imperfection, embracing the jangly and the improvised, is at the heart of the band’s ethos and evidenced even in their name. And this universe of juxtapositions, of new ideas, of never ending exploration, is what they love about music.
“You’re always learning. That’s pretty comforting to know as a choice of what to dedicate your life to, it’s kind of this endless story,” said Acord.
The Thing is keenly aware that their job sounds, to some, like a hopeless pipe dream. But they don’t care. To the cacophony of societal expectations and judgements that imply making music is a waste of time or impossible pursuit, they have a simple response, delivered in unison: