By Matt Wood
Courtesy the artist This Will Destroy You comes to the Firebird tonight.
On a Sunday afternoon, Alex Bhore is just packing and doing laundry in preparation for This Will Destroy You's upcoming East Coast tour. The band just returned from a European trek, where it played a show almost every single night for five weeks straight. Even though he's had a few weeks off, that doesn't exactly mean there's downtime for Bhore.
When he's not working with This Will Destroy You, Bhore works on production for other bands in Texas. Over the phone, he fondly recalls working with Future Death, who's also opening for This Will Destroy You at the Firebird for their show tonight, Friday, October 24. He also mentions working with Danny Diamonds, Blackstone Rangers and Nervous Curtains, plus a couple more that escape his memory at the moment.
"We were all just mega-exhausted after that tour," Bhore says. "We had crazy drives to get to a festival, and we were just so haggard by the end. It's kind of amazing we got through it."
The stark contrast between European tour life and being back at home is, in Bhore's words, "super fucking weird." He cites strange routines you fall into on tours, including napping back in the tour van. "This one was tougher to bounce back from," he says. "It took a while to get feeling normal again, but it's all right now."
The band's latest release, Another Language, just dropped last month. The record is highly rhythmic, and the textures that are crucial to the group's sound are present and mesh together perfectly within the more complex rhythms. Tracks like "Invitation" make this instantly evident, with Bhore introducing the song with a skittering snare pattern.
This influence was partially inspired by John Congleton of the Paper Chase, who told Bhore to make the next album have more rhythm and groove to it. Bhore took the advice in stride, and says this album is almost disorientingly rhythmic at parts, but that keeps it interesting. "I definitely try to make it not where I'm not just playing a bunch of dumb fills," he says.
In his own drumming style, Bhore says, there's equal appeal in the slow, repetitive drum parts and the faster and more intricate ones. "There's something really nice about parts that are so repetitive," he says. "The faster stuff feels good too, but then there's also the challenge of making sure you're precise."
For production purposes, Bhore says, many of the drum tracks on this album are simpler and repetitive, so that parts can receive heavy effects alteration without being muddled up.
Another Language also features notably shorter track lengths, hovering around four to five minutes long rather than the seven- or eight-minute spans of songs off previous albums. Bhore says this was only a half-conscious decision, and was partially done to make the audience crave more rather than beat a song to death with repetition.
"I think the long-song format has been thoroughly explored on the last couple records," he says. "We wanted songs to be as simple and effective as possible for this one."
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When translating the recordings to a live show, it's paramount that the band is playing to the highest level. With no singer grabbing the majority of the audience's attention, each band member holds a huge responsibility. And with that great responsibility comes great power in both the range of sound and the emotions it taps into.
"We try to make the live show super dynamic, super crushing," Bhore says, "but then maybe have certain parts where you can hear yourself breathing."
Equally important is the performance space. Mostly the band tends to favor the performance-focused venues over areas where people just go to see a show, although both are wholeheartedly enjoyed.
"I definitely prefer the reserved crowds -- it helps us focus and play a bit better," Bhore comments. "But there's something fun about a rowdy crowd, too."
He mentions one of the most stunning crowds the band ever played for, in Iceland. The audience was dead silent and entranced throughout the whole set, and they didn't even clap until the set came to a close. The sound engineer for the show ended up recording the entire thing, which the band released in 2013.
"Part of what made it sound so great really goes back to the fact that the audience was very, very respectful and very cool, and made it really easy to perform at a good level," he says.
When lining up a bill, the group tries to create variance to avoid stacking instrumental acts or more droning bands for the entire night. "We don't really enjoy touring with bands we might get compared to," Bhore says. "We want it to be interesting to the listener and not just the same shit over and over again."
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