Thieves with a motive: Interview with Billy Canino from Austin band ‘Thieves’

 

Thieves are an Austin band which, like many rock bands, value uncompromised musical emotion high above what they see to be fabricated authenticity. It’s no wonder then that the influence of bands such as Taking Back Sunday and Brand New can be heard on their recently released debut album titled ‘No Motive’.  I asked singer and guitarist Billy Canino to let me know about the band, the album, and whether he has any guitar related scars.

How did you guys meet and form the band?

We all played in previous bands together in the past and wanted to do something more fun and light hearted so we started Thieves.

How did your band name come about? Is there relation between the name, your music, and yourselves?

We wanted “Thick as Thieves” as a way to make fun of the over exaggerated “bro friend” culture behind pop punk at the time. That was taken so we settled on “Thieves”. “Thick as thieves” was also a song title from Billy and Chris’ old band, Tomorrow’s Too Late, and a lyric in local Austin rock band, Recover‘s song, “Fuck Me For Free”. The only relation between the name and us is that we all believe you have to take the life you want. You gotta take the power back from society telling you what you need to be and do with your short amount of time on earth.

Is there a general lyrical theme going in new album ‘No Motive’?

Yeah, fuck every fake asshole who puts on a front to sell records. You aren’t tight. We know you suck. We suck and we acknowledge it. Everyone sucks. People suck by nature. Be real and make real art. We see right through you and your rockstar bullshit.

What is the album cover art trying to convey?

A sense of desperation and aimlessness. When all the dreams and ideas and stresses and tragedies and joys in your life come together to just create a big hazy mess of emotion in your head.

Your description on FB says “revered for their vigorous live shows and reflective lyrics.” What’s does reflective lyrics mean? Are they primarily about yourself?

I’m not totally sure because I didn’t write that, but my lyrics are always about looking inward. So sometimes they are probably about myself specifically, but sometimes they are about the idea of generally looking inward for answers and accepting responsibility for your life before you seek truth from other people or things or religions.

What was the inspiration behind the track “Generation Why”?

We’ve all given a lot of our time to this band and over a decade of our lives to play music and some days it’s hard to not think back and wonder what may have been different if I’d continued my education in biology or followed my father’s footsteps in his business. It’s just about always wondering what life would have been like had you made different decisions. I feel like everyone goes through that no matter what their path is like.

Was the album recording a quick and easy process or are you one of the bands that spends countless hours getting the guitar tones ‘just right’.

This recording process was hell. We planned to track and mix and put the whole record out through Panda Studios in California but the producer had a mental breakdown, rarely showed up to the studio, and yelled homophobic and racial slurs at us while we tried to record, so we scrapped everything but drums and vocals and re-recorded on our own, in our closet, in Austin, TX. We definitely took a lot of time to get the tones right. Tones and performances are very important to us.

How is tour prep going?

Great. All the dates for the February tour are set in stone and we’re pumped to play some new places on this tour that we’ve never visited.

Do you guys do this full time or balance it out with some form of normal life?

There’s a balance. We do it because we love it but it’s very hard to keep a normal life up. All we want is to be able to pay our bills and just get by playing music, but not everyone is so lucky, and we get that. We all bust our asses doing other jobs so we can afford to invest in our recordings and tours. Hopefully y’all dig our music because none of us have 401ks.

I saw you play at Jimmy Eat Wednesday and you drew some blood from what I assumed was a guitar hit to the head. Any scars?

Yeah, we all have scars from hitting ourselves or our bandmates with our guitars. We play our songs like our lives depend on it and sometimes that’s dangerous.

thieves-scars

When you hear the term Kiwi, do you think of the bird or the fruit?

The fruit. My dad owns a produce business so I grew up sorting fruit in the summers when I didn’t have school. Fun fact: I eat the skin of the kiwi. I just eat kiwis like apples. People think it’s disgusting, but that’s where the vitamins are homie!

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