Interview with Thrice guitarist Teppei Teranishi
S&S: I love your name, by the way. Does it mean anything?
Teppei: Yeah, it’s a Japanese name. I think if you pick it apart, it means philosophy and peace.
S&S: Let’s say someone decided to check out Thrice for the very first time. How would you introduce your music to them?
Teppei: I would just say that it’s rock music. It’s got some heavy elements, and it’s got some melodic elements.
S&S: Tell me about your video for “All That’s Left.” To me, it just screams politics.
Teppei: We picked the director, who was Doug Akin, and we just kind of let him do his thing. At the time, we were really busy. We just didn’t have a lot of time to come up with a concept on our own. We just left it in his hands. He mostly came up with the concept of the video. I think it’s really cool. It’s mostly like a visual kind of thing. He just wanted to have this really cool, retro, 70’s revolutionary imagery. It came out pretty cool. It’s different.
S&S: Who writes your music and lyrics? Is it a joint effort?
Teppei: Yeah. As far as music goes, I think we all write. Even our drummer, Riley, writes guitar parts. We’ll just kind of bring pieces or riffs to practice, and we’ll all just jam on it and put it together. Dustin, our singer, writes all the lyrics.
S&S: Do you play or have you ever played any instruments besides guitar?
Teppei: Yeah. I’ve played piano since I was a little kid, but I’m not very good at it. I forgot everything I learned, but I like to play piano. It’s fun. I took saxophone in junior high and some of high school. I haven’t touched it since, but I think if I picked up a saxophone, I’d still know how to play it. I kind of play drums. I would love to be able to play drums. It’s just that I can’t put a drum set in my house, so I screw around on our drummer’s drum set all the time.
S&S: You have said on several occasions that you are influenced by certain punk and metal bands. What other genres of music do you enjoy listening to?
Teppei: Oh man. Everybody in the band, including myself, listens to an eclectic, really big array of music. I don’t know – it’s really hard to say. We’re just big fans of music, you know what I mean? Anything that we feel is good music, we listen to. So, literally anything from jazz music to Metallica to punk, hardcore, metal, and indie bands. We seriously listen to everything.
S&S: You guys are constantly touring. I don’t know how you do it, because you’re all over the place. Was it hard at first to adjust to that type of lifestyle?
Teppei: Yeah, definitely. It’s tough being away from home. I think last year, we were away eight months out of the year. So, we were gone more than we were at home. It’s definitely hard. I’m married, and Dustin is married too, so it’s pretty hard having a family at home and leaving it behind. I don’t know, you just have to make due, you know? Touring is a really necessary thing, and it’s fun. We enjoy doing it. This is the second tour we’ve done in a bus, and that’s a huge added luxury. It makes things much easier for us, and we actually get to have our wives and girlfriends come out with us. It’s cool.
S&S: Were you more nervous or excited to sign to Island?
Teppei: Excited, really. We weren’t really nervous just because at the beginning of the signing, we decided that we wouldn’t do it unless we were one hundred percent comfortable with it. We were one hundred percent comfortable with it, so I don’t think there was really much of a nervous thing. We were just really excited about it.
S&S: It is difficult to hang out with fans now that you guys have blown up?
Teppei: Not really. It’s fine. On the Warped Tour so far, we’ve been doing signings and meet and greet things everyday, which is pretty cool because you get to meet all the kids. It’s fun, definitely.
S&S: Which do you prefer: Playing Warped or having your own tour?
Teppei: It’s kind of hard to say. Warped Tour is really fun. I know everybody says this, but it’s like this giant punk rock summer camp. It’s really fun just hanging out with all the bands and all your friends, but I definitely prefer playing indoors in clubs. It just seems like a more proper place for a rock show, you know what I mean?
S&S: It must be awesome to look out beyond the stage and see people rocking out and screaming your lyrics. It is weird to play new songs to a crowd that hasn’t heard them yet, and therefore can’t sing along?
Teppei: It’s always kind of weird playing new songs because when you’re playing old songs, people sing them back, and there’s all this energy, and it’s fun. When you start to play new songs, people just kind of sit there, but it’s cool. I think kids enjoy it, and I think people still rock out even though they can’t really sing back to you. We’ve had some kids singing along to the new songs, which is kind of weird. We’ve put up some mp3’s on our site and kids have learned some of them. It’s pretty cool actually, that they would learn your lyrics and the record isn’t even out yet.
S&S: If you could go back in your life and do something differently, what would it be?
Teppei: Honestly, it’s probably something, but I really can’t think of anything that I would like to change. I think I’ve made a lot of good choices in life, and I’m definitely happy about where I am today.
S&S: What is something that people would be shocked to know about you?
Teppei: (laughter) I don’t know. Maybe that I like the new Justin Timberlake record. (laughter) It’s cool; it’s a good record. It’s fun music. It’s good for what it is, I think.
S&S: What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Teppei: On the Warped Tour, I usually take a leak and go get breakfast.
S&S: Which is worse: Someone leaking secret photographs of yourself, or someone walking in on you taking a leak?
Teppei: I would say leaking photographs. That’s definitely an odd invasion of privacy. I wouldn’t really mind if someone walked in on me taking a leak. It would be like, “Woah!” but it would be over just after the “woah.” I would feel pretty violated if I saw weird photos of me or something.
S&S: Which is better: Being named “Best Guitarist of All Time” or Thrice breaking the record of “Most Albums Sold?”
Teppei: I don’t know. That’s a hard one just because if I did ever get named “Best Guitarist of All Time,” I would strongly, strongly object. I personally know 800 guitarists that are way better than I am, so I would feel really weird getting that. As far as the “Most Records Sold.” I don’t really care too much about that either. (laughter) Maybe the “Most Records Sold” not because it’s cool to sell a lot of records, but it would be kind of neat to think that your music has reached that many people.