Glass half full

In one year’s time Chico band thirst has already made it, almost…

AND HUNGRY TOO The thirst crew is so close they can taste it. From left: Matt Vander Ende, Andy Miller, Mike Comfort, Chris Holmes and Brandon Mains.

AND HUNGRY TOO The thirst crew is so close they can taste it. From left: Matt Vander Ende, Andy Miller, Mike Comfort, Chris Holmes and Brandon Mains.

Photo By KG Photography

thirst, the CD release party
Friday, Dec. 19

“Think of me if ever you need somebody to love / somebody to hold / somebody to listen / somebody soon
—"come over,” thirst

He’s big and he looks kind of tough in his black leather coat and shaved bald head, but vocalist and songwriter Mike Comfort is a very sweet guy. His lyrics (see above) make your heart go out to him, and his presence, as I witnessed when he and guitarist Andy Miller hung out at my house recently for an interview, is more pleasant than his look would suggest. As is Miller’s—his broad, sincere, perfect-toothed smile alone is enough to endear him to you.

As members of the increasingly popular alternative pop-rock band thirst, with second guitarist/back-up vocalist Chris Holmes, bassist Brandon Mains and drummer Matt Vander Ende, Comfort and Miller have come a long way in their band’s one-year history. They were recently voted “Best Band” by the readers in the Chico News & Review’s “Best of Chico” issue, and were also just chosen as “Best Band in Sacramento” by the Sacramento FM radio station 105 The Zone. Their singles are currently in play on mainstream radio up and down the Central Valley “from Oregon to Fresno,” and their first CD, whole, consistently sells out at both Tower and The Underground, often outselling the top major-label artists. They’re obviously on a roll, and seem poised to be the next “big thing” to come out of Northern California.

This instant popularity seems to lie in the appeal of thirst’s music to the common human polarities of invincibility mixed with the need to be loved. Comfort’s voice is unique; a mix of testosterone and sweetness, pleading and assertion—an in-your-face-sound that at the same time says, “Please love me.” There’s a sexy little macho catch to it that the girls and the guys relate to.

Comfort speaks gratefully about the first radio station, 107 FM The Point, that, thanks to a fortuitous meeting set up by LaSalles’ Nick Andrews ("a very, very supportive guy when it comes to music") between Comfort and The Point’s Marty Griffin, put thirst’s single “away” into regular rotation at the station.

“Mainstream radio doesn’t play unsigned bands. … I knew I was asking [Griffin] for something big,” Comfort explains. “I didn’t take it lightly that [The Point] got behind us.” Mix 95.1 FM’s Larry Scott followed The Point’s lead, as did Don Burton at Mix 99.3 in Redding. And most recently, Modesto’s B93.1 FM has jumped on the bandwagon—no small feat considering how tough corporate play lists are to crack for unsigned bands, Comfort explained. “It’s cool that some of these stations have done this for us.”

Miller says that because of radio play, “We have four, five or six songs that everyone [at our shows] sings along with. … It’s pretty trippy having 300 or 400 people sing along!” “It’s touching,” adds Comfort.

The band has already broken into television as well: thirst songs are played on Fox TV Sports Net’s “54321” show, and soon their video, “another side,” which was shot at LaSalles, will be shown by Fox as well. The video is also set to be shown on certain music stations in England, France and Germany.

Currently, Comfort is the only band member who is a full-time musician. The others would like to follow. “It would be nice to make a living [playing music],” says Miller, who has a day job working with computers. “Our goal is to be able to do this full time.” They would also like to be signed to a label with national distribution and have hired an agent to help lighten the load of working full-time while striving to be a full-time band.

Considering how nearly instant their popularity has been, and the fact that they all get along well (Comfort: "I never thought I’d be in a band that was this easy to work with, and with this caliber of musicianship…"), it’s hard not to predict that thirst’s desire for greater success will soon be quenched.