The instrumental quartet THIS WILL DESTROY YOU creates the most cascading brand of cinematic rock music. They are often compared and linked to purveyors of the post-rock genre, managed to transcend the tag and carve its own niche via a delicate and balancing infusion of electronics, strings, and an array of unconventional rock instrumentation over bombastic and receding harmony. With their 2011 album Tunnel Blanket, THIS WILL DESTROY YOU totally did what their band name promises: they destroyed the listeners. At the same time they took instrumental music to the next step and gave melancholy and death its own sound. Now, in late 2013, the Texas-based group released a breathtaking live album. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION and festivalrykten.se took the chance to talk to the guys who will destroy you. An interview about influences, black metal and the new album that already is “halfway there”.
You’ve started to write on your next full length. How long in the process are you?
Yes we have. Things are moving along. I’d say we are about halfway there. It can be hard to tell but the studio time we’ve had has been very productive.
Which of you previous works would you say the new music is closest to?
It has elements of all three records but sounds completely different. So far the newer material is more upbeat and rhythmic which is terrain we have yet to venture into.
THIS WILL DESTROY YOU‘s 2011 album Tunnel Blanket
On “Tunnel Blanket”, would you say that you put in much more time in designing every sound and create atmosphere than on the first two records? Would love to know a bit more about how you created some of these very ambitious sounds? The sound design on “Glass Realms” are seriously insane, for example.
Yes, the record was a textural, ambient one so there was much attention paid to sounds. We used quite an array of instruments to create textures: harmoniums, brass, strings, guitar, dulcimer, bells, synthesizers, pianos, vocals, harp, organs, tape machines/loops, field recordings, etc. Thank you. That song started off from a manipulated/sampled handbell choir and an old concert harp loop.
Are there any screams on Little Smoke, or is it just guitar effects going wild? And is it a saw on Osario?
Yes and yes. Black metal bands like WATAIN, XASTHUR, VELVET CACOON, were influences on the sounds for “Tunnel Blanket” so using screaming as a texture ended up working itself into songs (also in the track “Black Dunes”). I’ve played saw for a number of years – used to get together with a bunch of friends to play bluegrass every week back in the day. I think you are the first person to pick that out correctly. Ha.
Osario is Spanish for ossuary. Why did you name it that? Was that Jeremy’s idea, since I’m guessing he’s from Spain or has connections to Spain?
I actually came up with the song name ( not Spanish though! ). I liked the sound of the word as a song title and it was also influenced by our amazing visit to the Sedlec Ossuary in Czech Republic.
Besides the pretty discussed themes on “Tunnel Blanket”, did you have any concept for how the songs – the music – were structured? It feels very much like a whole, a trip. How much thought did you put into that?
We were influenced greatly by certain film composers: Popul Vuh’s work with Werner Herzog and Angelo Badalamenti’s work with David Lynch were a couple of the big ones. As we got further into the writing process we realized the album had a very strong theme and one large fluid movement and we in turn approached the writing with the in mind. It is like a trip – up and down – just like life itself.
In Powered Hands you use a quote from Temple Grandin, where she talks about death, how you see spirals and tunnels of light right before you die. Your artwork has a white tunnel on it too. More concrete, what was your intention with using these symbols and the sample?
It’s from a documentary called “Stairway to Heaven” and her perspective on the “afterlife” ( or lack there of ) is fascinating. “Tunnel Blanket” was meant to be a metaphor for death or the moment right before death. Despite what you believe that moment will be the most true, the most raw flash you will ever experience. It will always be a mystery and as much as human beings want to distract ourselves with material bullshit, religion, etc. the outcome will always be inevitable.
You’ve had some problems with the church, right? I read that an evangelistic christian group used your music for propaganda? Did you do anything about it?
Yes, that is correct. We are still in the process of dealing with it now. I can’t go into details about the case but it is something we are adamant about pursuing.
After that incident you’ve become much darker and released “Moving on the Edges of Things” and “Tunnel Blanket”. Would you say that was kickback from your side? Moving on… is pretty much the opposite to “music you can use to promote religion”.
The change in tone wasn’t a direct response to what was happening on the religious front necessarily. The shift had more to do with our own personal lives and attempting to deal with hardships like death, loss, and depression in general. We are beyond lucky to have an emotional outlet through music.
You just released your new live album. Fantastic work. The sound is amazing. Was it a big process, setting all the stuff up and prepare for it?
Thank you. We were honored to play in Iceland at such an amazing concert hall (Harpa). The acoustics where unreal and we were lucky enough to have great sound engineers there to multi track and record the show. When we got back to Texas me and Alex rolled down to McAllen to our buddy Charlie Vela’s studio and knocked out the mixing and sent it off to be mastered.
How’s the future looking for your other band Amasa Gana? Will their be an album soon you think?
We released a tape awhile back on Holodeck Records and plan to get a LP going on the same label in 2014.