People we Admire - Riley Breckenridge (Thrice, Drummer, Runner)

In the vast realm of music and sports, few individuals seamlessly navigate both worlds with the finesse and passion that Riley Breckenridge embodies. As a founding member of the California-based rock band Thrice, Riley has left an indelible mark on the music scene. However, his journey extends far beyond the stage, delving into unexpected projects, a love for running and baseball, and a perspective that beautifully intertwines the realms of sound and athleticism.

Riley Breckenridge's musical journey is as diverse as it is captivating. From the driving beats of Thrice to the sludgy post-hardcore sounds of Less Art and the baseball-themed grindcore of Puig Destroyer, Riley's creativity knows no bounds. His solo ventures into ambient/electronica further showcase a profound connection to the emotive power of music.

In his own words, Riley shares, "As someone who doesn’t write lyrics, music is a purely emotive thing for me. I love playing stuff that moves me emotionally, and pretty much everything I’m listening to is something that’s hitting me on an emotional level in some way. Usually, it’s doing so in a musical way, and occasionally lyrics will be the thing that pulls me in, but it’s almost always the former. Every once in a while, I’ll listen to something from an educational standpoint — something that helps me understand a concept or technique I’m working on.”" For him, music is a language of emotions, a sonic landscape where feelings are expressed and explored. This perspective, coupled with a commitment to individual expression within Thrice, shapes the band's unique and unpredictable sound: “I think Thrice’s sound is a result of each member having an equal voice in the writing and recording of songs. We all write parts individually, and then those parts are fused and tweaked and re- shaped to make them work within the larger body of a song. We share a common core of influences, but our personal tastes diverge quite a bit from there. I tend to lean toward the heavier side of music, personally.”

From Baseball Dreams to Musical Realities

Before drums and guitars became his tools of expression, Riley harbored dreams of a career in professional baseball. A turn of fate, marked by injuries sustained in football, led him to a realization that being 5-foot-9 and having a surgically repaired knee and not being out-of-this- world talented, the cards were stacked against him: “I was better off getting a degree and focusing my time on music." This pivotal moment redirected Riley's path, ultimately leading to the formation of Thrice and a lifetime dedicated to the art of sound.

Riley Breckenridge, Drummer of Thrice, Runner, Baseball Lover in Fe226 Blog

Running as Therapy

Riley's passion for sports extends beyond the music studio, finding solace in running. Despite a childhood aversion to running due to its association with punishment in other sports, he discovered its therapeutic potential in 2012. Riley describes how running became a means to enjoy music without interruption, saying, "I always hated running when I was younger, largely due to it being associated with punishment in other sports I’d played (baseball. soccer, basketball, football). If you made a mistake or lost a game, you’d get punished by running laps or doing wind sprints. So, I hated it. In 2012, I started easing into running, and using it as a way to get outdoors and listen to a record without interruption. It took quite a while for it to click, but there’s something magical about getting a runner’s high and getting lost in a record at the same time. It’s great for your body and your brain, and it’s been a huge help to me psychologically and physically. I realize just how crucial it is to my well-being when I can’t do it for a while.”

Has he ever considered diving into competitive running or exploring the realm of ultra running? "Nope. I never caught the ultra bug. I did a half marathon back in 2013 and had my fill of races. To be honest, running has never been a competitive pursuit for me. I find much more fulfillment in using it as a therapeutic activity rather than pushing the limits of what my body can endure."

Recently, he faced the limitations of his own body due to an injury. "I've got bad knees. I tore my ACL and MCL in my right knee when I was 17 and have always been hobbled by that. Most recently, I tore the meniscus in my left knee and had surgery in June to remove the torn tissue. Recovery has been slow but steady. I can definitely feel the lack of cushion in my knees, so I really have to manage my speed, distances, and frequency. It's a bummer, but it's part of getting older, especially after playing a lot of high-impact sports throughout my childhood, teens, and 20s."

Given the significance of running to his well-being, how does he cope with injuries? "I try to stay positive and remind myself that the time and discipline I put into rehabilitation will only help me in the long run. It's pretty crazy how many people I've seen at physical therapy over the years who were just going through the motions."

His resilience in the face of physical challenges echoes the discipline and determination that permeate both the worlds of music and sports.

The Intersection of Music and Running

For Riley, music and running are not merely hobbies but profound escapes. Whether immersing himself in a record or embarking on a run, he finds moments of respite from life's challenges. In his own words, "I think they can be a great, albeit momentary, escape from whatever is ailing you at the moment. Being able to lose yourself in a record or on a run for a bit can be really helpful."

"There are definitely some similarities between running and drumming.” Both are physical disciplines, and whether you’re composing a song or conquering a long-distance run, the common thread lies in the dedication required to achieve excellence: “You make progress by being dedicated and driven and working hard. And there are layers of beauty in each discipline that you can’t really see or feel until you pay close attention to the nuances and details within.”

Sports as a Catalyst for Change

With a perspective shaped by personal experiences, Riley acknowledges the potential of sports to influence society positively. He believes that athletic events and high-profile athletes can be powerful agents for social change and awareness. In his own words, "Sure. I think athletic events to benefit and/or raise awareness of social issues can be incredibly beneficial on multiple levels. And on a larger scale, I think high-profile athletes can use their voice(s) to inspire people and raise awareness as well. The latter can be difficult with how high-strung people are these days with regards to social issues and politics, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying.”

Riley Breckenridge of Thrice is a Drummer, musician, runner, great person and part of Fe226 People we admire blog

The Harmony of Music and Running

Riley seamlessly integrates his love for music into his running routine. "Always! I mentioned listening to music while running in a previous answer, but I’ve found that the best way for me to really listen to a record, intently and without distraction, is to take it on a run. Especially now that I have kids. Rarely do I have 30-45 minutes of interruption-free silence at home, so getting outside and running with a record has been crucial. I listen to way more music this way than I would otherwise.” The act of running becomes an immersive experience, a symbiotic blend of physical activity and auditory exploration that transcends the boundaries of both worlds.

Riley Breckenridge's journey from aspiring baseball player to influential musician and dedicated runner is a testament to the interconnectedness of passions. His ability to find solace, inspiration, and beauty in both music and sports serves as an inspiration for those seeking harmony in their own diverse pursuits. As he continues to navigate the intricate tapestry of sound and athleticism, Riley Breckenridge stands as a living testament to the power of embracing one's true passions. What's not to love about a human and a charactere like this?

Riley Breckenridge has his own website, please visit here. Riley also spent a lot of time to set up a list of his favorite records of 2023 (some beyond, even). Take the time to read his article and discover some new sounds, it's absolutely worth it!

And please be aware, that each record Riley Breckenridge picked has link to the band or label’s Bandcamp or website, so if you like what you hear, PLEASE support the artists you love beyond just streaming their music. Here' links to streaming services as well. 


All photo are taken by @jennclouds (Riley's wife)

Also, check out our running playlists loaded with punk rock and other motivational music - and made to improve your run by finding a good rhythm around 180 rpm. The rhythm most world class runners are used to run in.

Riley Breckenridge is part of our People we admire Blog. Please also have a look into the other great people we feature.

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