Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This Will Destroy You: Interview & Review

This interview will be about the band, This Will Destroy You. It is also about their new album, Tunnel Blanket. It is also about their show last week in Nashville, TN. It also includes the new single and mp3, Communal Blood.

This Will Destroy You is not simply a harbinger of imminent danger or impending doom. In fact, it’s potentially the opposite. This Will Destroy You, an instrumental “post rock” group from Texas, is a band (Jeremy Galindo, Chris King, Donovan Jones, Alex Bhore) with a mindset of art they want to create and the talent to make that a sonic truth. And the only impending doom associated with them comes to the listener who doesn’t take the time to acknowledge their musical capacity.

I’m always hesitant about music without lyrics; being a wholeheartedly biased English Literature degree-holder and writer, it’s easy for me to focus on the lyrics and only the lyrics. So, when I started perusing the catalog of They Will Destroy You, I was certainly skeptical at first. However, after venturing to their show on Thursday (June 17) at Nashville’s The End, and chatting with lead guitarist, Jeremy, over the phone, I must say that I’m nothing short of impressed. And amused.

For a band that doesn’t have lyrics to their songs, Jeremy certainly has a way with words. To jump start what could potentially have been an awkward and invasive interview, I asked him who he would eat first if he were stuck on an island with Ke$ha, Justin Bieber, and all of Nickelback. Now, I know you’re all answering this in your heads right now – each of you with a respectful and well-defended response-- but Jeremy’s was flawless. Without hesitation, he said, “Nickelback. They look delicious.” (Take that as you will.) He had some choice words and commentary about Justin Bieber, but decided to keep him around because, “at least he kind of looks like a girl...” referencing the fact that he would like to have a mate of sorts on the island. Which, in his defense, is both logical and well thought out.

Still, if he could bring people to this island(one friend, one celebrity, and one fictional character), he chooses Kelly Kapowski, Barack Obama, and his cat. (“I don’t like my friends,” he says. Haha.) Once again though, Jeremy wanted America’s finest rock quartet there. “What about the guy from Nickelback, can I bring him?” You can see how this interview went from potentially insidious to somewhat ridiculous and simultaneously hilarious—thanks to Jeremy’s answers, not my questions--.

On a more related note, the guys are in the midst (or just finished up) a short three week tour through the Midwest, and are heading out later this summer. Jeremy expresses their love for the actual performance part of touring—the playing, the meeting people, the drinking—while maintaining a sincere distaste for the van: “We all hate the van.” As anyone probably would who spent the majority of their waking hours in one. The guys have toured extensively over the past six and a half years since their inception, and noted Moscow and Athens as two of their favorite pit stops during their world travels over the past couple of years—noting that they were fun to play for “really crazy crowds.”

(photo courtesy of Andrewweiss.com/last fm--I didn't take photos during the show because I was pretty mesmerized.)

After discussing the new album, Tunnel Blanket, a bit, Jeremy told me that there’s “not a song on the album that we don’t like, or a song that we think is a filler song,” a notion that is apparently different than their last albums. In reference to their ubiquitous label that can often leave them pigeon holed, he tells me “it’s just words...we’re just gonna make the music we want to make. The new album is definitely not post rock...I don’t know what that means...” Granted, Jeremy echoed my sentiments of being mildly confused by the label post rock and its over-arching meaning, but he seemed to agree that the labels don’t affect the band or the music they create.

In terms of their creative process, it appears that members of the band take on different roles in the development of the album—lyrics, titles, artwork, etc. As far as naming the songs that don’t have words, Chris, the band’s other guitarist, names all the songs—usually keeping with a particular theme. Thematically, each album varies from the others, and influentially, Jeremy and I delved into those musicians that inspire the band—or at least him. Jeremy tells me that if he could go into the studio for an hour with any musician dead or alive, he would pick, Richard James (Aphex Twin) Steve Wright, Gustavo Santaolalla, and Johnny Greenwood (Radiohead). “Those would be my people.” And as far as a good cover with those people? “Rainy Day Women.” A diverse collection of incredibly talented individuals (even though he was technically only supposed to pick one musician.)

To keep things haphazard and spontaneous, I had to throw in my ever-present and always completely unrelated question, would you rather name your hypothetical child Bullitt or Gator? Jeremy tells me, “Gator, for sure...It’s got bite to it:” an answer that I (unbiasedly or not) wholeheartedly agree with. The newest album doesn’t currently have a release date, as the band will be shopping it around to labels quite soon. It’s finished, mastered, and everything else a album needs to be, its just a matter of finding a label. Still, keep your eyes and ears ready for these guys on record or live—it will be well worth your time.

In terms of what will this new album sound like? Or what They Will Destroy You sound like in general? Think Explosions In The Sky births a somewhat darker younger brother with a bit of an edge. That being said, their live show at The End blew my mind. It’s often difficult to go see a band whose music you don’t know well—particularly if you don’t know any of the words to any of the songs. I guess when there are no words to learn, this problem disappears. The End is a tiny hole-in-the-wall, beer-only, dive venue located within walking distance of Vanderbilt. Realizing that is extraneous information, let’s get to the music. As the band chatted in the courtyard pre-show, I hardly knew they were the people getting ready to take the stage next. When they did, however, the small crowd was mesmerized. The place was neither vacant nor packed, but it wouldn’t have mattered either way.
There was something captivating about the songs – none of which I can title – it was like emotion was pouring offstage in every guitar lick, drum beat, and bass riff. I felt moved; I felt like they had captured all the unspeakable feelings in the human soul and morphed them into a melody that contained a dangerous amount of sentiment. It was like experiencing a certain kind of sonic certainty; there was something climactic about the moments they built up melodies and chords until they had no choice but to slowly calm their instruments and the crowd. People were enchanted, and in fact, I couldn’t have left early even If I wanted to. I’ve never been so audibly engrossed in a concert; usually, if I don’t know the words to most songs, I get distracted and discouraged and zoned out unless they are particularly groundbreaking. This Will Destroy You changed all of that.


Sarah-Louise-Richelle said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPS-giXHQrk&feature=youtu.be This Will Destroy you show off their tour skills with O2 Academy TV!

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