A complicated web of human interactions and emotions has never sounded so fun and playful as it does with Thao with The Get Down Stay Down. Thao’s music is indie rock at it’s finest, with elements of chamber pop and alternative folk mixed in for good measure. It’s catchy, quirky, and everything you’d expect from a band that sounds like they could be your best friends. Thao’s voice and lyrics are laced with an innocent sexiness that enhances the fun and fresh melodies of the band and the music strikes a balance between being both relatable and danceable.
The band’s latest album, Know Better Learn Faster, boasts songs like When We Swam, which instantly make an audience want to sing along. The title track is another standout and highlights their ability to produce an escalating progression of sound and emotion. The music portrays a kind of human quality that lets us know that this is a band that has lived their lives like the rest of us: just trying to figure it out as they go along and doing their best to enjoy the ride, even through the pain.
Thao was gracious enough to take some time out during the band’s current US tour to answer a few questions for The Rock and Roll Report.
Q: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be a musician?
A: I think I knew very young, around 13, that I wanted to be a musician. I didn’t fully commit to the idea until the end of college when I intentionally left myself no other option. By this I mean I refused to even consider going to grad school and did not have any other kind of job lined up.
Q: Along your journey, have you always felt supported and confident that you were on the right path? Or have you met roadblocks along the way?
A:: I think in this realm I have walked a very charmed path and am incredibly grateful for how things have seemed to fall in place without much grief.
Q: Your music has a very playful sound, will you tell me a little about your writing process?
A: Well, first I like to have incredibly complicated interactions with humans, and then I like to make questionable decisions, and then it helps if they do too, and then I cry, and then I write a song.
Q: Very cleverly put. That being said, I’ve always heard that being in a band is like having many relationships at once – what is the group dynamic like with your band?
A: Adam and Willis are dear friends of mine and we are very familiar with each other’s living habits. It’s like living with your co-workers in a van on a weird extended business trip. We are a tight-knit bunch when we are together, which is very frequently, for what seems like unnatural amounts of time in closed spaces.
Off tour we try our best to tend to our regular lives. We’ve known each other for a few years now, but in touring time that’s about seventeen years. We are a goofy bunch with very tame tendencies, like watching the Food Network in hotel rooms after shows. And the Discovery Channel. We love Man vs. Wild.
Q: It sounds like you have a lot of fun on the road, do you have any really great/funny stories that stand out?
A: Once, at a Super 8 (motel) in the Midwest, Adam woke up and his leg was in what we thought was drying blood, not his own!, and while he was in the shower trying to scorch off his skin I went to talk to the people at the desk and I said “Um, we have blood on the sheets,” and the woman at the desk took it into the back room and then returned and said matter-of-factly, “It’s not blood,” and I said, “What is it?” and she said, “Fecal matter!”
Q: That is definitely memorable, but maybe not in the best way! … What can we expect at a typical show?
A: You can expect a lot of dancing around and hair and me almost falling over too much, because of the moving around and the cables and not because I’m drunk, and Willis wearing this necklace full of tiny plastic and rubber animal toys that he made himself, and Adam wearing this necklace with just one rubber horse head from the same place, and us succintly recapping events of the day/week. For instance, on the drive to San Diego I was very concerned that an SUV ahead of us had a part of itself dragging on the ground, but we got closer and it was just a black pair of those plastic balls hanging from the hitch. You know what i’m talking about? The ball-sac ornaments? I think they are called truck nutz or some such. Terrible. Those things are terrible.
Q: I don’t think I’m familiar with those, I’ll consider myself lucky. So what’s coming up in the near future?
A: Well, we are all flying to Tokyo tomorrow because our new record is being released over there. Then we are going to Europe in January for tour, and then we are going on a West Coast tour with the Thermals in February. And then we are going to sleep.