If anything could reinforce a cliché as clumsy as ‘good things take time’, it would be the five years that stretched before the release of Explosions In The Sky’s seventh record.
‘The Wilderness’ (2016) is a dazzling addition to the Texan band’s quietly stunning discography; its transportive tracks bristle with longing and ache, all the while retaining what might be the quartet’s most assertive stance and enthralling stature yet.
That album, plus bits and pieces of its masterful predecessors, will be showcased live when the band tour later this month. Guitarist Chris Hrasky says the band is thrilled to return Down Under, having last travelled to Australian shores in 2012.
He hopes Australian fans respond well to the new material, describing 'The Wilderness' as “more concise” than previous records. “There are times where I listen back to old songs and think, ‘Okay, I can understand why this song is ten-minutes long'.
“But there are other times I ask myself, ‘Why is this song ten-minutes long?’ when we could have gotten to the point at around six minutes,” he laughs.
“As you get older, and you’re exposed to more stuff, your tastes change, and the way you think about things change, and hopefully that’s reflected in the way we’ve put each song together.”
Chris says writing the album was a long and laboured processes, insisting the band often spent months building on what only started as little musical ideas. “Usually one of us will come up with something, whether it’s just a melodic line, or noise, or a little piece of something. If all four of us like it, then we would start to build on it,” he explains.
“There has never been an instance where someone has walked in and said, ‘Here’s a skeleton of a song, let’s just flush it out’. It takes us a long, long time, and it’s a lot of trial and error, and honestly, most of the stuff we come up with we don’t end up using, because we don’t end up liking it.”
Despite their lengthy 16-year career, Explosions In The Sky have evidently avoided a creative rut, though Chris struggles to pinpoint exactly what inspires the band while writing new material. “When we finally finish a song, it’s almost like none of us have any concrete memory of writing it, because the composing process spans over such a long period of time.
“We can never say, ‘Hey, remember that day we came up with that song?’. It’s more like, ‘I remember that part, and I remember four months later coming up with this part, and then combining those two’,” he laughs.
“In terms of influence or inspiration, I suppose it’s just whatever’s around us, or whatever we’re feeling, or whatever we’re communicating with each other. It’s very circular collaborating between the four of us.”
For now, songwriting will take a backseat to touring with Explosions In The Sky’s 2017 schedule already jam-packed with extensive, international performances. “This year is a lot easier to digest than last year was, so I think we’re feeling okay about it.
“Touring can be great, but it can also be a little daunting constantly travelling and being away from family for that long. You certainly become a little worn down from it, but at the same time, we can only complain so much. We get to travel around and play music and people pay us to do it, so it’s really not that bad!”
For fans sitting on the fence about catching the band’s performance, even Chris’s humble nature described their live shows as “far more intense”.
“We try to make the show pretty visceral; we like to be a rock band, so we kind of go crazy. That’s the way we like playing, and that’s what we like to see live. People are paying money to see us; we can’t just stand there and look bored,” he says.
“At the moment, our mind is set on touring, though over the next year we’ll gather together as a group, and start thinking what record’s coming next.”
Explosions In The Sky Shows
Thu 16 Feb - Perth International Arts FestivalSun 19 Feb - The Gov (Adelaide)20-21 Feb - Melbourne Recital CentreThu 23 Feb - Sydney Opera HouseFri 24 Feb - QPAC (Brisbane)