Word is Out: Explosions In The Sky
American rock band Explosions In The Sky guitarist Munaf Rayani on their debut India gig, spending four years on their upcoming album and writing songs without words
They might refrain from writing lyrics for theirÂ songs, but American instrumental rock bandÂ Explosions In The Sky [EITS] have a way with words.Â Guitarist Munaf Rayani says over the phone fromÂ Austin, Texas about their songwriting, “It is not anÂ easy thing to write a song, but once we catch a rhythm”¦ Once aÂ few raindrops fall, it just starts pouring and it’s quite nice to beÂ standing in the rain, like a rain of melody.”
Explosions In The Sky, who have been around since 1999Â [they played as Breaker Morant for a while before that],Â have been one of the forerunners of ambient, instrumentalÂ rock alongside the likes of Scottish band MogwaiÂ and Iceland’s Sigur Ros. EITS have been workingÂ on a follow-up to their 2011 album Take Care, TakeÂ Care, Take Care for four years now. In between, theÂ band has worked with film composers to score music forÂ movies such as the 2013 action film The LoneÂ Ranger to last year ’sÂ Al Pacino-starrer dramaÂ film Manglehorn. RayaniÂ says about film work, “ItÂ allows for somebody whoÂ doesn’t even listen to thisÂ style of music to learn ourÂ names and maybe go andÂ search for us.” You’ve probablyÂ heard songs like “YourÂ Hand in Mine” and “FirstÂ Breath After Coma,” bothÂ off their 2003 album TheÂ Earth Is Not A Cold DeadÂ Place, used extensively in everythingÂ from movie trailersÂ and advertisements toÂ video games and TV shows.Â He adds, “We never expectedÂ that the music that weÂ write could apply to so manyÂ people’s visions.” RayaniÂ also informs that althoughÂ their new album is mixed andÂ currently being rehearsed,Â they will wait until early nextÂ year to release it.
How do they pull off songsÂ that in spite of featuring noÂ words, still manage to evokeÂ instense emotions? RayaniÂ says their reference pointsÂ come from books to films toÂ simple conversations. “TheÂ way the weather is, or theÂ state of the world, the personalÂ things we’re goingÂ through in our lives, individually and with each other. Me, MarkÂ [Smith, guitarist], Mike [James, guitarist] and Chris [Hrasky,Â drummer] ”“ we’re really close friends who’ve known each otherÂ almost our entire lives. So we have a way of speaking with eachÂ other, communicating with each other ”“ we try our best to relayÂ these emotions and ideas through melody.”
EITS make their India debut at the third edition of music, filmÂ and art festival Johnnie Walker-The Journey in Mumbai on DecemberÂ 12th, alongside American electro-ambient act Tycho and legendary Italian music producer Giorgio Moroder. Just a weekÂ prior, India got a taste of instrumental rockÂ veterans Mogwai, who performed at the BacardiÂ NH7 Weekender festivals in Delhi NCR, Pune andÂ Bengaluru. Rayani is elated to hear his friends in MogwaiÂ are playing in India just before them. He says,Â “They’ll excite the crowd with that type of music andÂ help us. Mogwai have become very close to us. We allÂ kinda look out for each other. We all speak favorablyÂ of each other. It’s really excitingÂ to see each other onÂ the road, or at a festival.Â When we come to Scotland,Â Mogwai are at theÂ show for sure. When theyÂ come to the US, we are atÂ the show.”
For their shows, EITSÂ plan their setlists only theÂ same morning, but RayaniÂ promises that thereÂ will be a career-spanningÂ selection of songs in MumbaiÂ as part of their hourlongÂ set. He adds, “We’reÂ 15 years old and have fiveÂ albums, so we’re going toÂ try to play the best bits ofÂ all of those albums thatÂ make for a good show.”
Rayani, who hasÂ Pakistani roots, says hisÂ mother originally stayedÂ in Mumbai before movingÂ to Pakistan and thenÂ starting a family in Austin.Â “My mother is very,Â very, very happy that weÂ are going [to India] andÂ she wishes she could comeÂ along. I’m sure that she’sÂ already sent the wordÂ to everybody there thatÂ Munaf and all the guys areÂ coming to town, so everybodyÂ go see it.”
Explosions in the Sky will perform at Johnnie Walker-The Journey alongsideÂ merican electro-ambient act Tycho and legendary Italian music producer Giorgio Moroder. Click hereÂ for more details.