STORY WRITTEN BY GARY GRAFF
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Ben Lusher initially wasn’t sold on becoming part of Thirdstory.
He and bandmate Richard Skinner have been friends since high school, making music mostly on their own. It was Skinner who suggested forming a band with Elliott Skinner, but Lusher initially declined.
“I said, ‘That sounds awful. No thanks,’” Lusher, 24, recalls with a laugh. “Eventually, just out of respect for Richard, I met Elliott, and the rest is history.”
Thirdstory’s history so far is an EP, “Searching,” and a funky single, “G Train” — inspired by the New York subway line — that’s generated buzz for the group. A full album is on the way, but while it’s waiting for that Thirdstory is hardly sitting on its haunches. Here’s three things to know about the fledging group as it rolls into town…
Thirdstory performs at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia on Sept. 14. For more information, check http://www.worldcafelive.com/philadelphia-listing/
The group’s sound is a hybrid of all three members’ tastes and influences. “It was a long process,” Lusher recalls. “We’re very much three individuals with different tastes. I think I’m more into hip-hop and classic R&B, even jazz, where Elliott is more into folk music and Richard is definitely the pop aficionado of the group. But all of our tastes overlap, and I think from the beginning we could agree we all loved soulful vocals and great songs and great songwriting, so we started from there.”
“G Train” really did start off with the three musicians on a subway platform, waiting for a train. “The G line is basically the most notoriously horrible train in all of the New York City subway system,” Lusher says. “Being the writers that we are, we pretty much constantly write about heartbreak and bad relationships. So we very quickly related (the G Line) to a relationship in which you’re starting and stopping and everything is moving to slowly and just not moving forward. It’s very hip-hop. It’s very raw and hard=hitting, but then you’ve got stuff like real instruments and piano and kind of ethereal vocal harmonies in the background. It’s kind of a weird mixture.”
The group’s forthcoming album, due out this fall, was produced by Malay, who’s worked extensively with Frank Ocean — though he didn’t reveal much about the singer’s new “Blonde” album to Thirdstory as he was working on it. “That was a very secretive process,” Lusher remembers. “Every so often we’d hear one thing or another, but he kept it under wraps. But it was cool to know that’s what (Malay) was up to. Frank is an inspiration for us, for sure. That’s the reason why we first connected with Malay; We found out about him through is work on Frank’s first album, ‘Channel Orange.’ It was definitely cool at the very least knowing the albums were being worked on simultaneously.”