Florida has its own brand of heat, and residents sometimes use that when describing Sunshine State weather to those who might not be in the know.
“We don’t really have seasons in South Florida: It’s summer and hotter summer,” surmises Benny Rothschild.
And as it turns out, actual summer has played a big part in the brief history of Thoughts, singer-guitarist Rothschild’s current band.
Rothschild and bassist Angel Leiser founded Thoughts in summer 2017. Previously, they were part of Jumbo Shrimp Inc., which released two EPs and an album. When the longtime friends — they met as grade schoolers about 10 years ago at the School of Rock in North Palm Beach (a branch run by Rothschild’s family) — happened upon similar frustrations, they left that group as a tandem, with Leiser breaking the news to everyone over the phone.
“We wanted to be pushing it professionally,” explains Rothschild, who graduated from high school in 2017, a year after Leiser. “We had two members who were entering their junior year. We were confined to a school schedule, one or two gigs per month, and that wasn’t the level of seriousness we were looking for.”
Looking for a drummer to join their new project proved to be a challenge. Rothschild and Leiser opted to use software for the drum parts on the first Thoughts EP, Heart It Breaks, released in 2017. They had a drummer lined up for a tour in early 2018, but he backed out not long before the first show due to day-job conflicts, taking his van with him in the process.
Saving the day was Roman Conde, whom Rothschild and Leiser knew from another band and through his involvement with another School of Rock chapter in Florida. The addition of Conde on drums enabled Thoughts to do the tour as originally planned — only instead of traveling in a van, they did so in Leiser’s Hyundai Sonata.
After signing with New Jersey label Mint 400 Records in summer 2018, Thoughts released the EP The Tide that July, and the follow-up Beyond Belief arrived in January. The Last Summer, the band’s first album, dropped in April. One of its highlights is the Vampire Weekend-esque “Summer Air,” a song Rothschild and Leiser recorded twice while with Jumbo Shrimp Inc. but did not release.
“We were playing a bar mitzvah, and we had a bunch of downtime, and Angel said, ‘I have this chord progression I’ve been working on,’ ” Rothschild remembers about the song’s origins. “And that chord progression slowly involved into the riff that’s on the album. As for the lyrics, I knew I wanted it to be called ‘Summer Air,’ and it started out as a song about a girl you’d see on the beach. And then I got my heart broken, and that changed the theme a little bit.”
Rothschild has come to interpret the album title (which was Leiser’s idea) to summer 2019 being the band’s last as Floridians. In October, the members of Thoughts, now all in their early 20s, plan to relocate to Philadelphia to take advantage of its healthy DIY scene and proximity to other music-focused cities, Rothschild says.
“And it has seasons,” he adds.
— By Chris M. Junior