Thousand Below walk a fine, almost illusory line. Deftly balancing atmospheric and airy instrumentation, thoughtful emotionality, and just the right amount of hard-hitting hypnosis, the Southern California quintet—James DeBerg [vocals], Devin Chance [guitar], Josh Thomas [guitar], Josh Billimoria [bass], and Garrett Halvax [drums]—descend into the dreamy depths of loss, love, and life reflected in art on their full-length debut, The Love You Let Too Close [Rise Records].
“We aim to make songs that are heavy and fun, but you can also listen to them on a nighttime drive home through the rain when you’re thinking about life,” exclaims DeBerg. “You could call it post-hardcore rock, but it’s more than that. We just want people to feel what we’re feeling.”
They first harnessed that energy in early 2016. After amicably parting ways with Outlands, the frontman quietly kept writing music. One day, Thomas presented him some demos of “these pretty sad jams,” and they dove headfirst into a collaboration together. Blindwish guitarist Chance joined the fold next followed by Billmoria and Halvax as the boys hit a San Diego studio to record. Rise Records became entranced by the initial output as well as the cinematic, self-funded video for “Tradition” and offered the band a deal. Handpicking the collaborative team, they finished recording with producer Sebastian Rizo, enlisting the mixing talents of Andreas Magnusson [Fit For A King] and Kris Crummett [Sleeping With Sirens, Issues] for mastering.
Over this rich sonic backdrop, DeBerg openly explores the suicide of his best friend and its aftermath on The Love You Let Too Close.
“The theme of my life’s descent is central to the record,” he admits. “Losing my best friend flipped my whole world upside down and changed who I am as a person. I used to be happy-go-lucky. I smiled through everything in life. It wasn’t the same after. The songs go through my healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms as well as the other feelings that came about during this really low and depressed period. I fell in love during a broken time, but I pushed back too. This is a chronicle of everything I noticed about myself.”
On the first single “No Place Like You,” solemn piano chords resound over a haze of feedback before guitars swell into a wave of emotion on the captivating chorus chant.
“We wanted to make that one a little bit lighter,” says DeBerg. “It’s mostly singing. Lyrically, it’s about being so depressed that it screws up a relationship with someone you care for a lot.”
Elsewhere on the record, the opener “Sinking Me” builds from a bombastic beat awash in lush guitar tones before snapping into a searing scream. Meanwhile, the title track encapsulates both extremes, shifting from delicate to deadly.
The Love You Let Too Close ignites Thousand Below’s journey. As they tour with everyone from The Devil Wears Prada to Veil Of Maya, listeners will undoubtedly fall under their spell, because each lyric and note are unequivocally real.
“I enjoy writing sad music,” DeBerg leaves off. “It’s a very therapeutic process that helps me. I want people to take a close look at the concepts, listen to them, and read the lyrics. I imagine others have been through losing loved ones to suicide. This is an admission, ‘It hurts. It feels dark. It’s a rough time, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.’ I want to remind everyone they’re not alone, and we do make it through.”