Cognitive recall is a deeply individualistic phenomenon. Personally, Explosions in the Sky elicits multiple memories: a warm Catalonian night where the band was supposed to play; poring over the beautiful layout of their vinyl while their rumbling, uplifting tracks unfolded; a hostile exchange on the C-Train. Each has been associated with the perceived emotionality with their songs.
Instrumental music is unique in that fashion. Without words, we are faced solely with melodies, accents, rhythms, textures and, even, “cathartic mini-symphonies.” We can then personally construct the anima, regardless of the musicians’ intent.
“The base rule is that we want our music to be evocative, emotional in some way,” concurs drummer Chris Hrasky. “There is never any set idea. Someone will come in with one idea that we all like and we’ll just start doing it from there and, you know, it either moves us or it doesn’t. Like, ‘Oh my God, this is making me want to jump off a bridge,’ or, ‘It’s amazing, the most beautiful thing that’s ever happened.’”
The instrumental act has perpetually ascended since their formation in 1999. They’ve released six unique full-length records, created the soundtrack for three films – more on that later – and are noted for being the true hold-out of “post rock” (even if they consider the term fabricated by the media), alongside their counterparts in Mogwai. They’ve actually made a living doing music since 2004 and the reason why can be boiled down to one very important factor.
“If we don’t have any emotional [response] to it ourselves, then we throw it away,” reveals Hrasky. “We don’t want to be background music… We wanted to hit people in the way almost a ridiculous pop song would. Immediate.”
Their music achieves this. Even when reviews noted 2011’s Take Care, Take Care, Take Care was par for the course; the statement was followed with reverence. EITS make quiet/loud, dynamic music with lengthy track listings with drums, guitars and bass. As the drummer, Hrasky plays a standard set of C&C Custom Drums, along with two 21-inch Zildjian Sweet Ride cymbals (“it’s a very warm and sort of thick cymbal sound,” he explains) and fittingly bombastic Iron Cobra Pedals. Coupled with the guitars, the output is always mountainous. As such, expect their next project, the soundtrack to the upcoming Prince Avalanche – a remake of Icelandic film Á annan veg starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch – to complement the emotional journey.
“We did all the music with our friend [David Wingo],“ explains Hrasky. “The movie comes out in August, so the soundtrack will come out before then… We’ve done a soundtrack back in 2004 [Friday Night Lights], so it’s been a while since we really sat down and done anything like this, but it was good.”
That project will be followed by several more.
“We actually just finished up working on another soundtrack and, as dumb as it sounds, I can’t talk about it,” says Hrasky, laughing and apologetic. After that, they will record the follow-up to Take Care. In the meantime, whoever attends Sled will be satiated by their renowned live show, which will occur in Calgary for the first time ever. Expect Hrasky and company to be dialed in for the set, even if they’ve played the songs over 1,000 times each.
“Mostly, I think we get kind of lost in what we are doing,” he says, chuckling. “Hopefully, we get caught up in it and are playing as this one sort of super cohesive unit with a weird mind block… It’s just, thinking about and paying attention to what the other guys are doing, ebbing and flowing with them… But, sometimes I’m just thinking about what I’ll have for dinner.” He chuckles. “Most of the time, that’s not the case.”
He concludes, promising, “Even if I am thinking about dinner, we are still playing our hearts out.”
Catch Explosions in the Sky at Olympic Plaza on June 21.
By Sarah KitteringhamAB, Alberta