Three-chord trinity

The Thermals bring their crusade against the Christian right to the Triple Rock

Haily Gostas

Portland post-pop punk outfit The Thermals want to teach you how to fight fascism in three chords or less, and “The Body, The Blood, The Machine” is their instructional, and far more liberating, alternative to all those damn religious pamphlets.

Recorded with help from a fellow brother in hardcore (Fugazi’s Brendan Canty), it is an album that first imagines America as an iron-fisted theocracy governed by fascist Christians, then focuses on the need to break free from it. Populated by rambunctiously Orwellian rages against the perversions of faith by politicians, the ideas behind “The Body” seem all at once thrillingly dystopian and frighteningly current.

The Thermals with The Big Sleep and Middlepicker
WHEN: 5 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Triple Rock Social Club, 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis
TICKETS: $10, all ages, www.triplerocksocialclub.com

“When people are making laws in this country, like trying to outlaw abortion or make it so gays can’t get married, they are trying to enact them because it’s what the Christian right wants,” Thermals frontman Hutch Harris said.

“I wanted to take an angle I felt a lot of other bands wouldn’t,” he said. “In politics, where does the money and support come from? Religion. I wanted to make an album that didn’t just criticize current politics in general, but politics guided specifically by that.”

Though Harris argues against regarding “The Body” as a concept album, the grim storyline of things to come is still inherently clear. The only real solution? Get the hell out while you still can before, according to opening track “Here’s Your Future,” the Man makes you “bend your knees and bow your heads.”

With 10 songs clocking in at less than 36 minutes, “The Body” is an exuberant wall of noise wilder, brighter and smarter than many other stabs at punk found today. According to Harris, the true spirit of the genre lies more in shaking things up than, say, studs and eyeliner.

“We thankfully don’t get compared to a lot of these new bands, where they care more about the fashion of punk than anything else,” he said. “We’re more DIY, more Ramones and Buzzcocks-style than as this ‘new’ punk.”

“The Body” certainly exercises that refreshing, hook-laden brevity of old, yet still somehow delivers a more cohesive and focused path than any of The Thermals’ more bratty prior efforts.

From beginning to end, literally and metaphorically, it addresses birth and creation, the impending apocalypse and all the in-between. “An Ear for Baby” finds Harris scoffing “Good luck getting God on the phone/ good luck even getting a tone” to the best of his snide yelp’s abilities; while on “A Pillar of Salt,” he sheepishly admits we’re all “born to sin.”

Any trace of idealism found within their fast, frenetic music is properly, realistically stunted by ominous disillusionment and the bitter sarcasm of their lyrics. It’s the best border between beauty and cacophony – real, raw and, for Harris and bandmate Kathy Foster, quite the labor of love.

Drummer Jordan Hudson split from The Thermals a little more than a year ago, leaving Harris and Foster (on guitar/vocals and bass, respectively) with a handful of half-finished songs. After deciding to start from scratch to re-create “The Body,” Foster took on the responsibility of rhythm section and the two shared keyboard and organ duties. They even revisited Hutch and Kathy, their acoustic folk-pop outfit and the purveyor of a 2002 EP. Despite Hudson’s departure, they never intended to continue on solely as a duo, and Portland music staple Caitlin Love of Desert City Soundtrack was recruited just in time for live drum duties.

The resulting new Thermals’ sound, brought on by loads of skuzzy production and strutting sass, is a fusion of the band’s prior inspirations with their own trademark wise-ass lyrical spew and tight, yet convulsive catchiness.

“Some of my earlier influences were old classic rock, like Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. When Nirvana busted out, that became another huge influence because those were songs I could actually play on guitar!” said Harris with a laugh. “Zep songs were impossible Ö they still are!”

“Today, I still love the Breeders, or really anything that Kim Deal does,” he said. “The Pixies will always be a major influence.”

Before The Thermals headline a portion of Washington’s Sasquatch! Music Festival and then tackle Europe, they make their way through the good ol U.S. of A., and hopefully avoid any fascist right-wingers along the way.

Harris cites upcoming venue the Triple Rock Social Club as one of the band’s favorites. “It’s totally authentic,” he said. “You can tell the person who designed it used to tour. The sound is absolutely fantastic, and they take really good care of their bands there.”

He promises a “no BS punk rock show” and also claims The Thermals are stoked for their big-city arrival.

“We LOVE playing Minneapolis!” he said. “Plus, we have a two-day period where nothing much really goes on, except a drive through Rapid City. Minneapolis will be a fresh breath of civilization!”