Photo: Malcolm Elijah
Perhaps it’s blasphemy, but Texas-based This Will Destroy You are what I imagine god would sound like if he were real and in an instrumental rock quartet. Their name may be just as pretentious as that statement, but once you hear any of the powerful tracks off their upcoming album Tunnel Blanket, to be released May 10 on Suicide Squeeze, it’s clear This Will Destroy You are not feigning ambition. Blowing eardrums since ’05, the band is hard to peg into any one genre. Not quite post-rock, definitely experimental, noisy in all the right ways and dynamic as a good fuck, This Will Destroy You succeeds in taking the abstract and forming it into beautiful, wordless songs (with incredibly wordy titles). SLUG had the privilege of speaking with drummer Alex Bhore about all things TWDY before they headed out on their next tour.
SLUG: Do you think that being a band that plays solely instrumental music hinders your success, or do you think there’s a definite market for that kind of music?
Bhore: There’s definitely a niche in the culture that has a fonder appreciation for music like we’re making, but it goes both ways, we’re starting to have the opportunity to do a little bit of film scoring, things that a traditionally arranged pop/rock band wouldn’t necessarily be able to do. There are some sorts of boundaries as far as how popular our band could become, but that’s okay. It’s something to be said to having your niche, especially with how the whole music thing is now. Having a niche is, to me, an advantage. If you’re doing something worthwhile, [there are people that] will really get behind your music and be loyal supporters of it instead of just fuckin’ fair-weather fans that are into the flavor of the week.
SLUG: What was the concept behind Tunnel Blanket, and what kind of influences were you pulling from to create it?
Bhore: The new record is really dark, [but] it’s also really dynamic. It’s incredibly quiet at times and incredibly loud at times, and that was something that we were pretty intent on focusing on. One major thing is that some of us in the band dealt with loss of friends and family, and that had a lot to do with it. Musically, it’s definitely all over the map.
SLUG: What kind of “rock n’ roll” instruments are you using?
Bhore: On the record, we used 30 or 40 instruments, and there’s a lot of stuff going on. On the previous releases, it wasn’t completely limited to just this, but the band, for the most part, is a lot of guitar, a lot of bass, a lot of drums. Sometimes we’ll just get on the instruments and work like that, but a lot of times people are on keyboards or other instruments that we’ve been using a lot more with the [new] music. It’s fun to kind of travel around to different instruments when you’re writing and see what pops out. [On the new album] there’s a lot of strings and brass, a couple of instruments that people in the band made. A lot of the music that we’re into involves a lot of ethnic instruments. We wanted to explore as many different options for sound as we could with the record, and I think we’ll continue to do that and try to keep making new sounds––keep trying to go into new territory with the band.
SLUG: How do you like the new record?
Bhore: I feel really happy with it overall, and I think we all realized that a lot of the people that liked Young Mountain, the band’s first record, aren’t going to totally dig this stuff, but that’s OK. We feel like we’re really trying as hard as we can to keep pushing ourselves musically. That’s really a big part of why we’re doing what we’re doing. We all like making music and pushing ourselves and expanding our horizons.
SLUG: How do you think TWDY fans will react to the tracks on Tunnel Blanket?
Bhore: They’re a little more bleak––there aren’t any songs about happiness. I hope that people won’t discount listening to the record because it is kind of a dark record, but there are brighter moments in it. I hope more people will start to give records a few spins instead of just listening to 30 seconds of a track on their fuckin’ Macbook. If you listen to our record on little laptop speakers, you’re not going to be hearing half of the information. I would love it if more people would give thoughtful listens to records that take a little patience.
SLUG: What’s your live show like? It sounds like it’d be difficult to pull off that much sound with just four of you on stage, especially in small venues.
Bhore: I feel that on the records, we’re very dynamic––very loud at points and also very quiet at points––I think we all kind of dig doing that live and shocking a crowd, going from 0 to 100 really fast, that’s fun for us. There are spaces between certain songs that are very improvisational, and different things happen every night. We like playing in different types of places—whether it’s a dive bar or a pristine beautiful hall, both extremes have their perks.
Salt Lake City is fortunate enough to host Bhore and his bandmates, Chris King (guitar), Jeremy Galindo (guitar) and Donovan Jones (bass/keys) at Kilby Court on May 25. Get ready to rebuild your definition of music because This Will Destroy You. Read the extended interview soon on slugmag.com.