The Thing was established in the spring of 2000 when the three musicians met to play several concerts and to record their first CD on Crazy Wisdom, a sub label of Swedish Universal. In 2001 they recorded another CD on the same label as a quartet with Joe McPhee.
(Both CDs went out of print but are available again as a box set on Smalltown Superjazzz (2008).
The trio was a long wanted constellation where several musical styles meet in a very high energetic outlet. All members are influenced by different traditions of free music derived from Germany, England and the US, and these influences are to be felt not necessarily heard.
When the trio started out, the book contained mainly tunes by Don Cherry, hence the group's name. Since Joe McPhee`s participation, the Thing's repertoire has included other free jazz standards by David Murray, Frank Lowe and Norman Howard. Also, the group’s enthusiasm towards rock music is heard when they play "To Bring You My Love" by PJ Harvey on the second CD. Today the book has expanded to include tunes by The White Stripes, The Sonics and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. These are just examples to explain how close musical styles are today, how similar the energy is and can be, and how much today’s audience is melted together, devoted to creative music.
The Thing is now signed on the Norwegian label Smalltown Supersound.
Mats Gustafsson is today Sweden's and one of Europe's biggest names on the free music scene. Through groups like Gush, AALY trio and Peter Brötzmann`s Chicago Tentet, he has established himself as a very powerful saxophonist, and has somewhat reinvented the way of playing the saxophone.
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and Paal Nilssen-Love have become known as Norway`s heaviest rhythm-section. Since their long-time collaboration started in 1992, they have been working together in several groups like School Days with Ken Vandermark, Scorch trio with Raoul Björkenheim, and the Swedish/Norwegian jazz-group Atomic.
The Thing also performs with Joe McPhee, Ken Vandermark, Otomo Yoshihide and Jim O’Rourke as guests.