These four sensitive gentlemen of instrumental rock describe their band as a close but dysfunctional family who have been financially unstable. Austin, Texas has been their home base for several years, allowing them to become allies with bands such as the very beautiful American Analog Set, the completely awe inspiring Lift To Experience, and the sonically destructive And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead.
All three guitar players grew up in the "boring town" of Midland, Texas (hometown of former Governor, George W. Bush). These creative men have been friends since 1993, and moved to the state's capitol at different times (96', 97', 98'). Michael is a skilled guitarist who studied music in high school and played in several other rock bands. Mark has a degree in English from the University of Texas. Munaf is the youngest member (six years younger than Chris), but you cannot tell his age from the exotic sounds coming from his amps.
Chris (the eldest band member) grew up in Rockford, IL. This powerful drummer moved to Austin in early 1999 (to attend college) with his friend Kurt Volk. Both men are indie film makers, who made an interesting documentary about the premier of Star Wars - Episode I. Chris put up a flyer in a local record store (adorned with eagles, suns, mountains and dogs) that read "wanted: sad, triumphant, rock band". One of the guitar players observed the flyer, and that sparked the birth of the band.
The entire band met for the first time at a popular Austin restaurant called Milto's Pizza Pub. Their first jam session was in April of 1999, and things immediately felt right. After playing on the 4th of July, the sight of fireworks in the night sky inspired them to name the band.
In August 1999 the band played for the employees of the Gallup Opinion Poll. This was the first time that they ever played for an audience. The second time was in September of 1999, at a garage sale to raise money for a radio station (possibly KVRX). The band played their first actual show on January 23rd (2000) at Emo's in Austin. Their first show outside of Austin was at Rubber Gloves in Denton, TX (Nov 8th, 2000). The previous month, they started making payments on a 1991 Dodge Ram Van. This less than reliable vehicle has broken down at least twice while they were on tour. The first time was in December of 2000, while driving through Syracuse, New York. They were stranded for week because the transmission failed and needed to be rebuilt. The second time was in the fall of 2001, when they broke down in the woods of the Blair Witch Project film set.
Independent film director Kat Candler saw one of the band's first shows at Emo's in Austin. Upon hearing them play live, she begged Chris for a CD. After previously passing on two composers, the director tested two of the band's songs with her film. She liked how the two songs meshed with her movie and quickly got permission to use them. Kat later asked the band to score the rest of her film Cicadas, and stated "they came up with the most beautiful stuff". During the fall of 2000, Explosions In The Sky recorded the score, then attended the premier for the movie. The men apparently enjoyed hearing their songs in the semi-surround sound of the theater speakers.
In December of 2000, the band recorded their second album in Washington D.C. The four men stayed at the home of their label friend Jeremy DeVine, and at the time his house was without heat. They described the experience as "comical", and that Jeremy's approach to producing was very unusual. The Austin quartet signed with Mr. DeVine's great record label Temporary Residence Limited in August of 2000. We can all thank the thoughtful members of American Analog Set for sending Jeremy a recording of the band, along with a brief note describing with expletives how totally amazing they are.
Ten minutes into 2001, they saw a girl get hit by a car at a party (she is apparently fine now). Weeks later, the band was approached by someone from the new Star Search television program. They were encouraged to try out for the show, but after attempting to contact the show's representatives nothing happened. Sometime in February, the band had a cymbal and stand (along with a hi-hat) stolen at a show at Rubber Gloves in Denton, Texas. The band played SXSW for the first time in March of 2001, at a coffeehouse called Ruta Maya with their label-mates Sonna and Cerberus Shoal. Austin's Fire Marshal stopped the show after fifty or sixty people arrived (even though it did not appear full). Technical difficulties also disturbed the band's performance.
In the Spring of 2001, the band was invited to collaborate with American Analog Set. Apparently the two bands recorded separate pieces, and the tracks were eventually combined with some digital manipulation. Another band they are friends with is Tarentel from beautiful San Francisco. On one occasion, both groups played together at a house party in Austin that was broken up by the police for being too loud.
During June of 2001, the last copies of their first album "how strange, innocence" were sold on the last leg of their tour (in Chicago). Their second album "those who tell the truth shall die, those who tell the truth shall live forever" was released that same year on August 27th.
In September of 2001, the band departed Austin the day before the terrorist attacks. They had to cancel their first show in Phoenix due to the tragedy. During the tour, lots of Taco Bell was consumed, the tour van was cursed at, celebrities were seen, money was lost gambling, floors were slept on, exotic Canadian sundries were enjoyed, and many great shows were played (as well as a few disastrous ones).
The band traveled to Europe for the first time in December of 2001. They went to Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and played a small festival at the VPRO radio station, as well as recorded a completely different set and interview. The guys expressed that they had a very good time with the exception of the traveling incidents. On the way there, two of the guys did not have their passports until the last second. On the way back, the jerks at the Minneapolis Airport confiscated their flea market pool sticks, and they were under suspicion for being terrorists (because of something written on one of the guitars).
In February of 2002 the four men initiated a move to the guitar player's hometown of Midland. The departure was made in order to save money, as well as to have a regular practice space. Weeks later, they embarked on another tour of North America. The band was hopeful that a full European tour would come together in the near future. The following quote should sum up how they feel: "if you think we will give up, well, hopefully you're wrong".
September of 2002 marked the beginning of their first full-length tour of Europe. One of the highlights of the tour would be the session they recorded in London with the late rock icon John Peel. The band would have another milestone in November of that same year when they performed two dates in Taiwan (their first time in Asia).
Since then the band performed in Japan, recorded one of the very last sessions with John Peel, toured almost everywhere in Europe and North America, released the LP version of their first album, contributed a song to their record label's anniversary compilation, and scored the soundtrack to a major Hollywood film (Friday Night Lights)!
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