For the guys in This Will Destroy You, the Texas-based instrumental-rock band, life has been a roller-coaster ride since the release of their first EP, Young Mountain, in 2006. Critical and commercial success have been tempered by instability in the band’s lineup, and while their popularity has increased over the years, the stress of constant touring has adversely affected their health.
The effects of all this tension are mirrored in their most recent full-length release, Tunnel Blanket, which is a raw combination of beauty and rage. Guitarist Jeremy Galindo says making the album was a cathartic experience.
“We were dealing with a lot of death around us,” Galindo says. “We were also dealing with a lot of changes in the band. We were trying to adjust to all that, and being on the road as much as we were while all those things were going on back home was rough for us. So it was really therapeutic just to get it out in this way instead of in negative ways.”
Over the course of the band’s first four releases—one full-length effort and three EPs—fans came to expect a certain dreamy and melodic quality to the band’s epic songs. The band loathes labels like “post-rock” and “shoegaze,” but comparisons to the musical aesthetic found in groups like Explosions in the Sky are not unreasonable—as some This Will Destroy You tunes exceed 10 minutes in length. If you have seen trailers for films like The Taking of Pelham 123 or watched 2011’s Moneyball, you have heard how gorgeous their songs can sound. Since their tracks tend to lean toward the languid and spacey, the decidedly darker and more aggressive tone of Tunnel Blanket was a pretty big curveball for listeners.
“I know some of our fans were definitely not into what we did with Tunnel Blanket,” Galindo readily admits. “But we also have a lot of fans that were, and we brought in a lot of new fans, too, so it’s been good. I like that it’s a darker album. I like that we were able to do something more experimental.”
Tracks like “Black Dunes” are representative of the band’s shift in sound for this album. As with many of their previous releases, the first few minutes of this track float along in an echoing, ethereal, beautiful way until the walls of distortion and pummeling drums come crashing in with the force of an atomic bomb. Most of the rest of that track is filled with angry feedback and boiling riffs that rush over you like waves of fire, as though the gates of hell have opened up. Another track called “Communal Blood” shares a similar musical progression, but at least that song’s genesis is a reminder that although Tunnel Blanket was a difficult album to make, the writing and recording processes were not all gloom and doom.
“[‘Communal Blood’] was the first song we wrote for Tunnel Blanket,” Galindo says. “The guitar tones that we had in that song came from a delayed setting that we found while we were on some mushrooms at my apartment before we started writing the album. We just heard this guitar sound while we were tripping and it was hilarious and weird—we just started laughing.”
The band’s show at The Urban Lounge is part of a 13-concerts-in-14-days tour from Austin to Los Angeles to Vancouver, with a number of stops in between. And as 2013 draws closer, more new material will be on its way, unless time and space conspire to keep the band members apart.
“The problem is we’re so spread out across Texas,” Galindo says. “All of us live in different cities, so meeting together to write is rare. And when we do get together it’s because we’re about to leave for a tour, so that doesn’t leave us much time to write!”
THIS WILL DESTROY YOU
w/ I Hear Sirens, Settle Down
The Urban Lounge
241 S. 500 East
Thursday, June 14 at 9 p.m.
$10 in advance, $12 day of show