IN CONVERSATION: Thus Love at Brudenell Social Club

IN CONVERSATION:  Thus Love at Brudenell Social Club

Thus Love played their first dates in the UK in February and March this year as part of Independent Venue Week and as a support for Dry Cleaning. They gathered many fans with those shows which gave the band an opportunity to showcase their debut album Memorial which was released on Captured Tracks in October 2022.

Back on these shores to do a short tour in addition to some dates in Europe, I was delighted to sit down with the three band members: guitarist and vocalist Echo Mars, bassist Nathaniel van Osdol and drummer Lu Racine at Brudenell Social Club in Leeds to find out more about the origins of Thus Love, the creation of the debut album, their sense of community, playing Glasgow’s Barrowlands and if things have changed in the six months since they were last on this side of the pond.

I have to begin by asking about the story I heard that Nathaniel and Echo you were both at a party, and both drunk, Echo said to Nathaniel “We’ve a spot open, come join our band” and you said “No“!
Nathaniel: That was one of the first times we had ever interacted, it was so funny!
Echo: By the way that was at a party that Nathaniel threw that was cowboy themed.
Nathaniel: It was Kentucky Derby day – it was me trying to get over my fear of horses, which didn’t work. But I knew of Echo I had seen the band play before but we hadn’t really interacted before. It was one of our first meetings, if not the first.

So my question is, how many times did you ask?
Echo: Three times, three times they declined!
Lu: Until I met them!
Nathaniel: Yeah it’s all about the chase for me, once they stopped asking I thought “Well I could“!

I’m interested in your creativity, because its not just about the music for you. You have other creative outlets. I believe you design and produce your own merch.
Echo: Yes, and I illustrate. I’m a visual artist as well.

And Nathaniel are you a ceramist?
Nathaniel: Yes! I have been doing music my entire life, and a lot of theatre when I was younger as well. So I’ve always dabbled in a lot of different art forms . I studied ceramics when I was at university, and I haven’t done it so much as of late but its had to classify myself as a ceramist when I haven’t done it for so long.
Echo: And its so sad, not to tell your own story, but the college they went to, where this party of note took place, it closed down due to Covid or when Covid happened. So they graduated during Covid and didn’t actually get to have a show and its all in the college locked away, all of their work.
Nathaniel: It’s probably all thrown away by now, I think they started using the building for something else but my entire thesis show was sitting in there.

You have talked previously about how when Covid hit you moved in together and then Echo you built a recording story at home. Did you have any background in that previously?
Echo: No. We had a member leave the band when had a different rendition of Thus Love before we were even called Thus Love. That member did all the recordings and we put out two demos in those early segments of the band and they were recorded by past members so when they left we were like “Well we want to record this album to conclude all the work that we had done because we weren’t sure if we were ever going to get to play live again“. So it felt important to record an album and because we didn’t know how to do it my somewhat neuro divergent brain chose it as a hyper fixation and I really delved into whatever internet forums and youtube videos I could find of engineers that I admired and producers I admired and picked up enough of a DIY skillset where we could get everything tracked correctly and miked correctly, well not “correctly” as there is no right way to do anything. But I got to a point where we could really work on something and we got it to a great place in rough mixes and our buddy Matthew Hall ended up mixing it and mastering the record which gave it that extra flavour ontop.

Lu: It was kind of perfect too because we were afforded that time because of the pandemic. Everything was close, we were all in the same building so we had the time. Its a pandemic baby, there are many pandemic albums and that’s ours.

And on to the album itself. The first time I heard Thus Love was when ‘Repetitioner‘ was being played on BBC Radio 6 Music and it was just one of those songs that stops you in your tracks and you want to know “who is this?“. Could you share a little of what its about?
Echo: It’s about pattern breaking, its about recognising behavioural patterns in yourself whether its external or internal, and it was weirdly something I wrote to myself. Maybe there is an aspect of cynicism to it, where you have these fears of staying the same and not growing, but there is always an underlying change in life but there is an inevitable peace once you pass and ultimately those things won’t matter anymore. And that, in a strange way, giving you the strength to make the changes in your life that you need to. It takes on many meanings. A lot of our songs will mean one thing when its written and become something else as we digest them as an artist.

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On the track ‘Friend’, it has quite an upbeat but when you listen to the words “Friends, not many of us have them” and referencing a “superficial life”. So it sounds like one thing but actually it means something else.
Echo: Yes totally, and there is a nod/tribute to MF Doom in that song. It’s inspired by a song by MF Doom.

I also love the exuberance at the end of ‘Family Man‘. The song ends and rather than thinking it has to be crisp and polished there is a “woo hoo”!
Echo: That’s on the base track, and that was me standing at the computer, far away from the mike and far away from the bass when we got it in that one take perfectly and we were like “YES!”
Nathaniel: I think its a fitting end too because every time we play that song, at the end of it that’s what’s going through my mind.

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Just going back briefly to ‘Repetitioner‘, Nathaniel when Thus Love played at Komedia in Brighton with Sprints and M(h)aol I had a quick chat with you afterwards and you said you weren’t playing ‘Repetitioner‘ initially and people were coming up to you and requesting it. As it was your first time playing in the UK, how did that make you feel?
Nathaniel: It was surreal to almost receive this like homecoming in a place we’d never been before and to have fans waiting for us, who already knew our songs, who were already invested in the music we were playing, who were already prepared to make requests for songs. It felt really good.

As part of the Dry Cleaning tour I know you played Glasgow’s Barrowlands. How was the experience of playing that iconic venue?
Echo: I’m so glad you brought this up because I think I speak for all of us that was definitely a major major highlight of that tour. It was amazing!
Lu: So major we have been talking about that on this tour! We can’t believe we’re not playing that venue.
Echo: I can’t believe we’re not going back to Glasgow. You don’t get to see places very much when you’re on tour, its all very fast paced and you’re in and out, but when a venue reflects the history in such an intense way of the place that you are, you get to experience things that you definitely don’t when you’re playing either a newer club or an O2 Academy. It’s rich. I ended up talking for a long time with one of the security guys who had a tattoo of the logo on his forearm. Granted I couldn’t understand most of what he said, with his very thick Glaswegian accent.

Did you feel it seeping through the walls?
Lu: We could see it in the stairs. Divets of just how many people had walked up those stairs, going in to see a show.
Echo: Also not where the public walks through but a separate hallway that used to be an entrance. The whole hallway is plastered with posters: Bowie, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cramps, Duran Duran – like everybody. So its hard not to feel like so incredibly euphoric.

And what was the crowds response for Thus Love? Its a big room
Lu: One of the best. People were going apeshit. It was amazing.
Echo: It was really good to know that we could fill it and really put on a good show.

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Now you’re just played two nights at the 100 Club In London, another venue with loads of iconic pictures on the wall.
Echo: Yeah and it even has legends of jazz as it was a jazz club before punk came around so it goes even further back.

And have you noticed a difference in the audience this time around, six months later than those first gigs?
Echo: There are definitely more people there who know the words, know who we are, came to see us and most of those people came to see us on the last tour.
Nathaniel: It feels really good to have people come up to us afterwards and say they came back for round two after six or so months.
Echo: This is only our second tour outside of the States and people will come up to us and say this is their third time of seeing us, or even their fourth. Pretty crazy because that’s a small margin of opportunity.

And you’ve dates in Europe?
Echo: Our first gig was in Palermo in Sicily and there was someone who was at that show who flew all the way to London to see us the first 100 Club show in London. It was a Mum who brought their kid who is about our age and they came all the way from Italy to see us again.

Could you share a little about Buoyant Heart, the community that you are part of in Brattleboro, Vermont?
Echo: We are part of Buoyant Heart and its a community that we share with a bounty of other awesome people. Some come and go, some are travellers, some are staples and have really steward the place for the past 4 years of being a space. We use it as a rehearsal space and at times I’ve had a studio there. Now we’ve moved our print shop there. It’s also a DIY venue so we have functions there and small intimate showcases.
Lu: It’s been our practise space for the better half of three years at this point.

As you’ve toured and travelled are you getting a sense that your community is expanding with other bands and artists that you’re meeting and connecting with? For example I noticed Dream Wife were DJing at one of your London gigs.
Nathaniel: Absolutely. Even in the past few months we’ve had so many bands that are friends of ours that have come from New York or wherever to play The Stone Church in Brattleboro. We have had a lot of friends come to our community from other communities we’ve been to. It’s always expanding.
Echo: And yes Dream Wife were DJing and now we’re going to open for them in New York. The more you tour as a musician, new ends of exhaustion come into your life but its also energised by that sentiment that, you know, people taking a plane to come see us. Everybody is putting in the work to make the special nights happen.

So I have to ask about album number two…….
Echo: What I can say is that we are getting to it as soon as we get home.

And there I left it with Thus Love heading into the Brudenell to prepare for the gig. The set that night surpassed expectations and included three new tracks ‘On The Floor’, ‘House on a Hill’ and ‘Lost in Translation‘. Chatting to gig goers afterwards so many were completely blown away by Thus Love, taking the opportunity to tell the band as much after the gig. A very special night at the Brudenell Social Club, and I have no doubt Thus Love will be back on a more extensive tour at some point in the future. Fingers-crossed for album number two to be recorded, and they are back on this side of the pond soon.

For more information on Thus Love please check out their facebook and instagram.

Credit: Julia Mason

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