In the last few years, emo has had a massive resurgence in the form of “twinkly” emo, which Redditor Zzsuture describes as “lots of bright, pretty, harmonic arpeggios, tapping/pull-off guitar work, jerky drumming with lots of hi-hat love, vocals could be harsh or really indie and boring-like. This kind of music is today’s caricatures of ‘mid-west emo’.” That being said, the members of THANKS have captured that twinkly vibe, and the response to it has been outstanding. Since forming in 2012, the members started a new music venue that has begun to change the way shows are run in Virginia Beach, and they have made lasting friendships that have already helped them further their music careers exponentially. I had the chance to talk to guitarist Karen Estrella about being one of the few girls in the local music scene, what kind of beer they like, what they are most thankful for, and of course the Shaq.

You are one of the very few girls involved in the local music scene, and that seems to be a trend in punk, hardcore, and everything in between, but it seems like more girls are getting involved. What are your thoughts on that?

I wish there for more for sure. I love Sarah [from THE GREAT DISMAL], and I love that she is still doing music. I wish more girls would be inspired to pick up music, but it’s definitely getting better out there. I love bands like PITY SEX and SLINGSHOT DAKOTA. They are amazing female-fronted bands, but I wish there were more female-fronted bands locally.

Please tell me, how did THANKS get started?

George texted me in June 2012, ‘Hey you wanna start a twinkly band?’, and I still have that text in my phone (laughs). We went to see YOU BLEW IT at a house show in Richmond a few weeks before that, and we were really inspired by them. We have had a few lineup changes, but I love how we have it now. We hit up Ryan because we knew he played drums, and during our first practice in his bedroom we wrote our first song. After that, we decided we really wanted to keep doing this.

I know that your band and TRUST FALL helped the former venue That’s How I Beat Shaq get started. What did you think was the significance of what that venue did for the music scene in Virginia Beach?

So much more than we thought. We have met so many bands through friends from all over the country, and we formed our own huge community. All the bands that played there were generally people that wanted to play music and didn’t care about guarantees. The touring bands that played there were more concerned about getting gas money, and we tried to help them as best as we could. I think it really helped bring the divided scene together in a lot of ways, and it gave bands a chance to play that more established venues might not have if they couldn’t sell enough tickets. In fact, TRUST FALL booked their entire summer tour off of friends we met from shows at the Shaq, and for our spring tour, we want to try to do the same. It was really a venue made by musicians for musicians, and we are really proud of it.

Do you have any plans to open a new venue any time soon?

We are definitely on the hunt. We have found some spaces that are in our budget but that don’t meet our needs. We really don’t want to settle. I found one place that is great, but it’s a little outside our price range so I think George and I might go talk to them in business casual to see if they can reduce the price (laughs). We are hoping by early next year we can open a new spot because we still get emails constantly from bands wanting to play here, and I have been hitting up other venues like The Iguana to help get these bands shows. Hopefully we will get something soon.

Earlier this month you wrote the following Facebook post: ‘I’m writing up a bio for our band, and all I’ve been able to come up with so far is “Beer.”’ What beer does your band drink the most?

It’s gotta be PBR (laughs), but we really love Coconut Four Loko. They are very rare, and only certain 7-Eleven’s sell them. Just half of one makes you go wild (laughs).

What is your personal favorite song to perform?

“I Hate It Here” because I really love the bridge part that people know the words to (laughs). It’s the best feeling in the world to have my friends sing along our songs with us.

Overall, what do you think about the quality of the Virginia music scene and the relationships between bands, fans, and promoters?

It’s really tricky. After Shaq, everyone started to see things how we saw them. Bands don’t have to pay to play or sell presales [for venues and for the scene to be successful]. We brought a different way of thinking, and I think that people are a lot more receptive to it now. The scene is getting way better. More promoters are willing to try to do shows the way we did, and there are more mixed genre shows. I love that pop punk bands are playing with hardcore bands. Also, I think kids that go to shows understand the business side of the music scene more and know more ways to help make it better.

As a band, what are some of the things you are most thankful for?

Each other. They are my best friends, and I would take a bullet for them. Also, all of our friends that come to see us, especially when we aren’t playing shows at the Shaq. Why are they paying $10 to see us? They could have gotten a burrito (laughs). Burritos are way cooler than us. We are also very thankful for the hospitality of our friends on our last summer tour.

Who are some of your favorite bands from Virginia?

Definitely TRUST FALL and THE GREAT DISMAL. They are our best friends. So many Richmond bands—SUNDIALS, HOLD TIGHT, CLOSE TALKER. RAINTREE are also good friends. There are a lot of Nova bands too. I did a split with a great band from DC called SOUNDTRACK TO SLEEP. Also, I cannot forget CARDINAL, AVERMAN, and COPPER & STARS. Those guys are also good friends of ours.

Any final words?

Rip In Peace Mini Couch.

For more updates on THANKS, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, and check out their music on Bandcamp.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Falls Church, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with friends.

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