In the current state of superficial pop songs; flashy, hip-hop anthems; and too-cool-for-school indie-rock bands, its hard to find musicians who can elicit any sort of real, personal emotion.
However, Austin, Texas, post-rock group Explosions in the Sky can do it, and without saying a word.
I actually think its because there is no singing. Without someone telling you what the songs mean, you get to decide for yourself. They are much more personal. Theres a different story, completely tailored to them, said guitarist Michael James. Its overtly emotional. We arent trying to hide that to come off as cool. We just want people to feel something.
Even in the earliest days of deciding what the group would be, the guys were fittingly mum concerning the idea of adding a singer. The primary setup of three guitars and a drum kit seemed to speak for itself.
Who knows what would have happened if we had included a singer, but I would venture to say it wouldnt be as good, James said. Its not our forte.
That approach has paid off, as Explosions in the Sky has seen a massive trajectory over its 12-year career.
The band really started to make noise with its 2003 release, The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place. A coveted spot scoring the the film Friday Night Lights and later contributing to the television series soon followed, and the 2007 album, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, staked Explosions claim as one of the foremost instrumental bands in the world.
This spring saw the act release its sixth album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, after a four-year lull.
It took us a long time writing this record. We wanted it to sound different, in terms of the sonic palate, but still retain what people liked us for, James said. It was definitely about striking that delicate balance of moving forward while not abandoning what is good about your band. We walked that line, and are really proud of that.
Fans new and old took note, and that record has proven to be its most successful to date, debuting in Billboards Top 20, declaring loud and clear that there is still a demand for earnest guitar rock, words or no.
The challenging thing about instrumental music is keeping people engaged without that human voice. Theres different ways to try and do it to keep people involved in what they are listening to, James said. Its a credit to the listening public that they dont need their art spoon-fed to them. They are willing to take the time to listen to it and think into it, and I think thats awesome. The times are changing, they really are.
Photo by Nick Simonite