A live soundtrack
This Will Destroy You speaks with music
‘The Mighty Rio Grande” is likely the most recognizable song by This Will Destroy You. (If you’ve seen the film Moneyball, close your eyes and remember the scene in which A’s first basemen Scott Hatteberg—played by Chris Pratt—hits his pivotal home run.)
This is fitting in at least a couple of ways. First, the instrumental four-piece got its start in 2002 in San Marcos, Texas, about 200 miles from the Mexico border formed by the river of the song’s title. Plus, the tune is a striking example of the band’s ability to draw a listener in and create a scene without words. A far-off kick drum walks in with the floating guitar melody. A patient drone waits three minutes to wind the tension into a frenetically strummed distorted guitar and an explosion of noises, and then takes just as long to unwind again. The song evokes both the serenity and the chaos of nature, and its range of moods has made it an exceptional fit for at least four movie soundtracks, one TV show and a Verizon commercial.
Of course, the tune (from the band’s breakthrough self-titled second album) is a dozen years old now. There have been four full-lengths, two EPs, and many performances and soundtracks since, as This Will Destroy You has established itself, along with the likes of Mogwai and fellow Texans Explosions in the Sky, as torchbearers in the greater post-rock scene.
Co-founding guitarists Chris King and Jeremy Galindo—both of whom are now based out of L.A.—have been the two constants in the band, which now includes drummer Robi Gonzalez and bassist Jesse Kees.
In advance of the band’s upcoming Sierra Nevada Big Room show (Feb. 9), the CN&R talked to King by phone about the wide-ranging musical existence of his adventurous group.
On your recent fall tour, the band played inside an art installation called “The Vault.” What was the deal?
That was in Pittsburgh at this … artist residency kind of venue called Spirit there, and basically [it was] a large cube enclosure that we played in that was sound-sensitive LED lights. It was really cool. It’s this guy Ian Brill. I think we were one of the last shows, too, to get to do a performance there. I know he was planning on tearing it down at the end of the month. It was a really cool experience. I was on stage and it looked crazy; I have no idea what it looked like out there.
Given the nature of your band’s music, are you often invited to do one-offs and collaborations?
Yeah, those are the things that we really enjoy getting to do. We did a really cool show a while back in Dallas at the Nasher Sculpture Garden, where we got to play in the sculpture garden. Stuff like that is some of our favorite kind of performances. Like that, or, say, a really old theater. It’s great getting to play in rock clubs, but it’s kind of the same old, same old. So, it’s cool to get to be around art, and it’s just a different kind of vibe doing that. You want the sound to be adequate, etc., and once those bases are covered, the backdrop is a big part of people’s experience of going to an event.
Are your current dates still in support of 2018’s albums, New Others Part One and Two?
Pretty much. We will be having a release of the restaurant score we did a couple years ago for a restaurant in L.A. called Vespertine, and on the tour we’ll have a flexidisc of the single from that. It’s just called “Kitchen.” It’s a song we wrote for the kitchen of the restaurant.
So, there will be a full-length release of the music from the project?
Yeah, it will be a three-LP [release]—it’s such a crazy [thing]. It’s definitely more of an experiential thing. It’s almost like being in space, and the building it’s in is crazy—four floors. It’s pretty wild. [Chef Jordan Kahn] was just awarded [two] Michelin stars recently.
How big do you think the audience is for instrumental post-rock?
There’s definitely an international following of people who enjoy that type of music, kind of specifically. It’s really surprising going to countries we haven’t been—say Malaysia or something—and there’s a bunch of people there. It’s really cool and humbling and exciting and all that. Without the singing, it does make it a little more universal and I think it resonates with people on an emotional level.