[Photo by Thomas Oliver]

Recording Under the Influence is a recurring self-titled feature where we ask artists to ignore their musical inspirations for a minute and share what really went into the making of a particular record. Artists like the Thermals bassist Kathy Foster, who was more than happy to tell us what fueled their fifth full-length, the emo-esque (Rites of Spring-era emo, not post-My Chemical Romance emo) Personal Life LP.

We’re passionate people who go through high highs, low lows, and everything in between. We love fervently! (I just looked up the definition of this word and it says, “Hot; burning; glowing.” I love that!) This definitely affects, influences and fuels our songs. It’s therapeutic and cathartic to be able to channel what we’re going through into our music. We’re constantly scoring the soundtrack to our lives! Ha! Maybe not lyrically all the time, but musically. I write melodies that communicate something emotionally for me. When I find the right chord progression, it really strikes me! And [frontman] Hutch [Harris] is really good at writing melodies that make my heart swell.

It’s a magical combination! And Portland has delicious, high quality varieties of both, which we’re constantly indulging in. This also fuels our songs! More high highs and low lows.

Portland’s weather is moody–a perfect atmosphere for moody musicians and artists to do their thing. When it’s sunny in the summer, all you wanna do is be outside soaking it up. You’re so happy. Then the six months of rain comes, and all you want to do is brood inside and complain about it. Ha! Just kidding! (Not really.) But you DO want to stay inside a lot, which is very conducive to making music, art, crafts, food–all the great things Portland is known for. Making loud, fun rock definitely keeps Portland’s rainy blues at bay. I kind of get excited when the fall gray settles in. I just want to be inside making music and art.

We moved into a new practice space shortly before we started writing songs for Personal Life. We were stoked because it was bigger than our previous one, and we could set up recording gear and have more space to move around. But once we started playing in there, we hated it! It’s big and boxy with no insulation. All the bright sounds bounce around, the bass reverberates in an unattractive way, the kick drum gets lost, and everything sounds like a big mushy mess. This really affected the way we wrote the new songs. We had to write songs that sounded good in there! Songs that sound good with a lot of space around them.

The three of us hang out ALL THE TIME. We’re the bestest of friends, have such a good time together, and are constantly cracking each other up! I’ve always played music with friends. It’s really important to me. Playing music is about having fun with friends first and foremost, but that doesn’t mean I’ll compromise musicianship. It’s a challenge to find people who you love personally AND musically, but it’s worth it when you find the right combination. Laughing a lot is really important too. We don’t want to take ourselves TOO seriously.