With songs that progress from ambient whispers to crescendos of thunderous overdriven noise, Texas outfit This Will Destroy You are masters at creating emotionally-charged instrumental compositions rich in texture and atmosphere. While currently touring the country in support of their acclaimed second studio album Tunnel Blanket, guitarist Chris King sat down for a chat with Killyourstereo.com.
G’day mate, Jack from Killyourstereo.com. Can we please start with your name, role in This Will Destroy You and all-time favourite novel?
Hello, my name is Chris (King) and I play guitar. My favourite novel is At The Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft.
Can you give us some background on how This Will Destroy You started? What was it like back in those early days as a band?
I have been playing in bands with Jeremy (Galindo/TWDY guitarist) since high school and this band started around 2004. It really has been a learning experience the entire way. The growth of the band has taken time but it feels rewarding after putting so much sweat, blood, and tears into what we are doing. The band has always had a very strong DIY background; we used to hand-make all of our merch, CD packaging, shirts, etc. It took a while for people to get into what we were doing and we had a few rough shows starting out.
We’ve been playing your recent album, Tunnel Blanket, around the office lately. It’s great to listen to while working. Are there any underlying themes or ideas that permeate the album?
Tunnel Blanket is an allegory for death and all that death encompasses. The album was written at a time of great loss and grief. It just ended up being a reaction/coping mechanism to what was happening around us.
What influenced the darker more ominous tones on Tunnel Blanket?
We didn’t want to be restricted to a standard rock setup with only guitars and drums and ended up venturing elsewhere to create textures and melody.
You’re obviously used to your music being used in film, TV and commercials; even in Australia, ‘The Mighty Rio Grande’ pops up in a Holden car ad. But how do you feel about someone using your music to sell a product? Would you ever say no to a brand or industry using your music?
I personally have mixed feelings with licencing in general but it is the only way to make money from music nowadays. It is nearly impossible to just survive off of touring and record sales. The band has a strict policy of never, under any circumstance, licencing to any religious or political cause. So yes, we have definitely turned down deals based on ideology.
On the topic, would you ever write a song for a business or a company? Or are your songwriting skills not for sale?
As long as they aren’t religious zealots or political wackos we’d be open to hearing about it.
What about a documentary or film score?
Yes. The main reason we even started the band was to get into scoring films. The last film we scored, Where Soldiers Come From, won an Emmy so we are very proud to be a part of that project. We hope to continue to score more films in the future.
How would you describe This Will Destroy You’s songwriting process?
It varies from song to song and from album to album. Sometimes we can all just get in a room and just write a song in an hour. Other times it can take a year to finish a song. It’s always a process and different every time.
Considering a lot of thought and emotion goes into your music, what do you think about mainstream pop music written simply to make people sing and dance?
There is a time and place for everything, and with how tough life can be, people just want a means of escape. If it helps people cope with the struggle I’m all about it.
Do you ever wish you had a frontman to act as a focal point when performing live? Or do you like performing without any one member attracting all the attention?
I wish we could play behind a curtain sometimes. I have no desire whatsoever to be in any sort of limelight.
What albums and artists have you been listening to recently?
I’ve been really enjoying Duane Pitre’s album Feel Free. I’ve also been listening to Bruce Langhorne’s score to Peter Fonda’s film The Hired Hand quite a bit.
Outside of music, what inspires your creativity?
The pursuit of happiness and the acceptance of death.
What attracted you to ambient/instrumental music in the first place? Have you ever been tempted to start writing music with vocals?
I grew up getting into bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor and Slint and it started out just wanting to emulate what they were doing. I’ve done quite a bit of music with vocals in the past.
Are you ever surprised by the way fans interpret your music? Like, what it makes them think about or how it makes them feel?
I can always appreciate that music we make touches people on a personal level. I’ve had such life changing experiences through music and being able to share that idea with others is a wonderful feeling.
How come you don’t like being labelled ‘post-rock’? Is there a genre you’d prefer?
The term post-rock doesn’t bother me. I just don’t see the point of needing to label everything.
How come it’s taken you so long to tour Australia?
Lack of funds has been the major factor.
If you could organise your own music festival anywhere in the world, where would it be, what would it be called, and who would play?
Antarctica. Tupac Hologram Festival with special guests Hootie and the Blowfish.
Can you name five songs you wish you’d written?
‘Caribbean Queen’ by Billy Ocean, ‘Caribbean Queen’ by Billy Ocean, ‘Caribbean Queen’ by Billy Ocean, ‘Caribbean Queen’ by Billy Ocean, and ‘Caribbean Queen’ by Billy Ocean.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Never judge a book by its movie.
Thanks for your time.
This Will Destroy You tour Australia in March:
March 19 @ The Zoo, Brisbane www.oztix.com.au
March 20 @ Annandale Hotel, Sydney www.oztix.com.au
March 21 @ Northcote Social Club, Melbourne www.northcotesocialclub.com
March 22 @ Northcote Social Club, Melbourne www.northcotesocialclub.com
March 23 @ Rosemount Hotel, Perth www.tickets.lifeisnoise.com
March 24 @ Crown and Anchor, Adelaide www.oztix.com.au