Like a lot of other ambitious local bands, alternative rockers Thoroughfare turned to Grammy-nominated producer Travis Wyrick, who's recorded big-label work for 10 Years, P.O.D., and the Christian rock band Pillar at his Lakeside Studios in West Knoxville. It's paid off—their accomplished debut, As Yet Unborn, was released in November and has already attracted the attention of major-label scouts.
When they met four years ago, singer/guitarist Jordan Beach, drummer Colin Cunningham, and bassist Thomas Boyd knew that they were going to play music together. But their first few months as Thoroughfare were shaky, to say the least. They started as a five-piece acoustic band, a configuration that none of them were happy with. One of the other original members left after a short time, and Thoroughfare were left wondering how to move forward.
"We almost even broke up at one point," Cunningham remembers. Realizing that they wanted to keep the group together, they started to look for ways to create the unique sound they had been trying to achieve all along.
"My brother, Cameron, had been playing piano for years, and we brought him on board, thinking that we needed to do something to stand out," Cunningham says.
As it turns out, the addition of Cameron Cunningham on keyboards was exactly what Thoroughfare needed. It was also the thing that caught Wyrick's attention. "He called us one day and just asked what we were doing," Cunningham says. "That really inspired us to get our act together."
The combination of Cameron Cunningham's keyboards, soaring vocal harmonies (both of the Cunningham brothers sing back-up), scorching guitar, and hard-driving rhythm creates a new and refreshing take on modern rock. It's all youthful and uplifting, but with a healthy dose of life experience behind it. And some of those experiences have been rather dark.
"Jordan, who writes most of our lyrics, will write about things going on in all of our lives—things that have troubled him, or just things that we've been through and how we've emerged at the other end," Cunningham says. "We've all had normal family issues, but Jordan has had some experience with someone who was drug-addicted, and watched that person lose everything. He's had a family member with cancer, and watched the pain, the medications that she had to be on, and it affected him....It's about coming through these things in a positive way."
As heavy as the lyrics can be on As Yet Unborn, Thoroughfare's music isn't strictly a downer. The band's sense of humor is reflected in their often-rambunctious stage performances. "Cameron is definitely the biggest entertainer," Cunningham says. "He'll do backflips off the drum riser. He's crazy like that."
They've taken that show on extensive regional tours since the release of As Yet Unborn—with a high-profile show at the Masquerade in Atlanta and as far away as Cleveland—and expect to stay on the road in coming months.
"We were all looking for a sound for so long, and finally decided that we will never rest with just one sound," Cunningham says. "We are always going to keep looking for influences. None of us even has a back-up plan—this is just what we are going to do."