Features, Music

Thornhill: The curious case of the unstoppable debut

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If you haven’t heard of Melbourne’s Thornhill by now, well, you clearly haven’t been paying attention. That said, their ascension to the higher peaks of Mt. Heavy was considerably rapid.

With the release of their first album The Dark Pool, Thornhill achieved what most bands don’t with their debut – critical acclaim, legions of fans and their own chant – “Horny for Thorny!” – being shouted at them from here to Europe.

Soon, the band will be storming the stages of Download Festival, the latest feather in their cap. Ahead of the performance we spoke with vocalist Jacob Charlton about the climate in the band’s camp post-debut…

“I’m stoked. Very, very, very stoked.” Jacob surmises of The Dark Pool experience so far. “I’m so keen for the future and also bloody very nervous.”

Most bands releasing their debut album can expect a pat on the back from mum and dad, maybe some of their friends, maybe a few dedicated followers. With theirs, Thornhill turned the heads of the industry and heavy community at large. The album was even declared a Feature Album on triple j, an accolade rarely handed to heavy bands at all, let alone emerging ones. Before long, Thornhill were gallivanting throughout Europe, The Dark Pool held triumphantly above their heads.

This may have been a surprise to the regular triple j listener, waking up for a week to vibrant, soaring alternative metalcore first thing in the morning. But speaking with Jacob, it seems none were more surprised at the album’s immediate success than Thornhill themselves.

“I did not expect it to be received the way it was,” Jacob says of The Dark Pool. “I didn’t expect some of the songs to be taken to heart as much as they had.”

“Songs like ‘Lily and the Moon’ have really resonated with people and I didn’t imagine that to happen. The softer songs seem to really work live for us, which I also didn’t imagine. I thought people would be like, “Yeah, give us the heavy stuff,” It’s been really crazy to hear people just singing these lyrics all over the world…It’s been nuts.”

Though blindsided by the thunderous acclaim from the industry and critics alike, Thornhill weren’t totally unaware that they were crafting something great during The Dark Pool sessions. Jacob recalls one particular moment when the band realised that they were onto something.

“The biggest “A-ha!” moment we had was probably ‘Lily and the Moon.’ Jacob says. “So, ‘Lily and the Moon’ was almost going to be scrapped from the record. We just couldn’t nut it out. I was pressuring for a long time to get Ethan to finish it and we just couldn’t make it work.”

“We finally made the breakdown section and made that high, high part before that breakdown that just opened the song up to us with new eyes. It wasn’t perfect, but it was kind of like, “God, this song finally works after two years of working on it.”

With the album still hot off the press, Thornhill embarked on a run of European dates, and with rumours of ‘Horny for Thorny’ chants in the UK, it’s clear the band left their impression. Now back on home soil, it’s time to prepare for Download Festival 2020.

In and amongst all these career achievements and scores on the board, it could be easy for such a performance to be seen as just another line item in a busy touring schedule. However, Jacob explains that’s not the case for Thornhill. In fact, Download will be a strategic mission. “I think coming back from Europe has made us more stoked rather than nervous for these shows,” he explains.

“I think we came back from Europe really stoked that we’ve got it now. We understand how we’re going to sound and what we’re going to look like, everything like that. So looking at Download now, rather than just being like, “oh, okay, it’s a really big show. I hope it goes well.” We’re looking at Download like, “Yeah, let’s kill it. Let’s smash it.” I’m really excited for what we’ve taken away from Europe.”

Beyond the obvious things – laundry, a decent nights sleep – Thornhill are keeping their options open for the rest of 2020. “The rest of the year is a bit of a mystery to us,” Jacob says. “Things are coming in, things are going. As you can imagine things are always up in the air in the music industry.”

The only thing that is for sure is that downtime, unfortunately, is predicted to be limited. In between upcoming tour announcements, the band will be keeping busy: “The space and time we have now will be prioritised with trying to write album two.”

Download Festival Australia 2020 Tour Dates
Tickets available now

Friday, 20th March
Showgrounds, Melbourne
Tickets: Moshtix

Saturday, 21st March
Parramatta Park, Sydney
Tickets: Moshtix

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