The earnest and passion of pop-punk is not something that is incredibly hard to locate in today’s music community. But a refreshing change of scenery comes when a band in the genre changes the rules on the level of the musicianship and live performance, trading out traditional song structures and predictable live shenanigans for something more interesting. Austin, TX’s Thieves are just that kind of change in the scenery.
Vocalist/guitarist Billy Canino and guitarist Chris Skiles formed Thieves after the break-up of a band called Tomorrow’s Too Late (which featured With The Punches singer Jesse Vadala), joining forces with bassist Nate Helton. The group released a demo in 2009 with its original drummer, drawing influences from bands like early Fall Out Boy and Every Time I Die. Thieves’ first tour saw them supporting those four songs, selling hand-printed T-shirts and hand-burned copies of their demo CD. The DIY ethic is strong in the Texas natives.
More touring occupied the band’s time until it joined forces with Austin promotions company/record label, Vagabond Collective, to release its debut full-length, 2011’s Just Give It Up. Thieves went on tour with what the group calls “real band shit” for the first time, highlighted by a five-week run on the Squid Life tour supporting With The Punches and Carridale. The addition of drummer James Beveridge in early 2012 provided the bridge to a fresh wave of writing and recording, and Thieves released a single called “Achiever” last October.
That song is the title track and opener of Thieves’ newest and upcoming release, the Achiever EP, which will be independently released on July 31. The seven-track release is a concept album centered around, according to Canino, “facing your demons and admitting that you have room to grow. It’s about learning to truly appreciate the people who make you want to be a better, more honest person, instead of obsessing over the idea that you have something to prove to them, society, and yourself.”
Achiever is full of surprises that will take fans of the genre by storm, including prevalent time and tempo changes in nearly every song. The technicality of Achiever is what makes Thieves stand out, Helton says. “We bring a technical edge to the plate that pushes our playing abilities as well as progresses the average listener’s expectation of what a pop punk band should sound like,” he says. “We like to do weird stuff in our songs because writing verse/chorus/verse/chorus isn’t always fun for us.”
The anthemic, heart-on-sleeve nature of the band’s songs has helped build a rabid core fanbase in Austin. If the group’s regional success is any indication, they’ll be ready to slowly but surely take the rest of the nation by storm with Achiever and its ensuing tour schedule. You may enter a Thieves live performance as an average show-goer, but you leave as an enthused fan wanting more. “Our live show is as energetic we can make it,” Helton says, listing the Dillinger Escape Plan and The Chariot among the band’s inspirations for performances.
Achiever was recorded from April to June in 2012. Drums were recorded with Aaron Harvey at AMH Studios in San Antonio. Guitars and vocals were recorded in the band’s practice space and in Skiles and Canino’s closets. Thieves has played shows with Rufio, Set Your Goals, With The Punches, Transit, Man Overboard, The Wonder Years, The Ataris and many more. The group is actively seeking label partnerships and full-time touring opportunities.