An Interview with Jeremy Galindo of This Will Destroy You at Trees in Dallas, TX – March 3, 2017
I count myself to be one of the lucky ones when it comes to the sorts of things I get to do at Somewherecold. On March 3rd, I drove from my home in Fort Worth to the Deep Ellum neighborhood in Dallas to see This Will Destroy You play a set and to interview Jeremy Galindo. I’m not just lucky because I get to talk to bands I really love to listen to or who have inspired my own music, but also that I get to sit with these people for an extended one-on-one and often learn that they are very cool and generous. Jeremy sat down with me for about thirty minutes outside of the club Trees to have a chat about the release of Young Mountain, the band’s journey as writers and musicians, the future of This Will Destroy You including possible new members and a coming album, as well as scores that Jeremy and his bandmate Chris have worked on and hope to release soon.
So things online are a bit hazy as to who is in the band at this point. Can you talk a bit about the current constitution of the band and where things are at in that regard?
Jeremy: Right now, it’s technically just me and Chris. We are both original members but our drummer, Robi Gonzalez, formerly of A Place to Bury Strangers whose filling in right now, has been incredible. Our bass and keyboard plays is Jesse Kees and he’s been unbelievable. I really think they are going to become permanent members of the band very soon.
Can you talk more broadly about your writing and recording process at this point in the band’s career? How has it changed over the years?
The evolution from Young Mountain all the way up to Another Language, it’s just been us learning about different tones and textures and rhythms and all sort of things and trying to really immerse ourselves, learning more, and having every album sound different. That’s always been a goal of ours. But since Alex and Donovan departed from the band, Chris and I have done a couple of scores. We hope to release those scores within the next year or so but there are a few songs on those scores that we are planning on turning into full-band songs. So, we think we have a good start for the next album. We are hoping that Robi and Jesse will be a part of that. Very stoked!
The technology has changed over the period since you started recording. How have you adapted to that change and do you fight it?
We did for so long. You know, ALL ANALOG! But now, you know, the samples are getting so insane. I mean, you can buy an iPad and get a Poly 6 app and I will bet people money that they can’t tell the difference between the real Poly 6 and the sample Poly 6. We’ve been taking advantage of that with the scoring work. I don’t know if we will work it into the full band but we have been taking advantage of that stuff. Also sample packs from Spitfire where they’ve been doing some amazing orchestral and weird noise kind of textural stuff too that we’ve been really getting into and learning their software as well. I think that is all going to play into some of the bed work of the album. It’s the bed we lay down before we start throwing melody on top of it.
I like to ask bands about their use of FX or other choices in terms of sounds but I want to add something to that with all of you. First, can you talk a bit about how you choose your choice of tones or sounds in your work and second, how you think about quietness and volume in your compositions?
A lot of that has to do with our producing John Congleton. We go out and we demo all of our albums before we do the real recording. Some parts of the demo sometimes make it into the album but when John’s mixing a song, it might be a little different dynamically than what we had before. I mean, having access to the equipment that he has… we will start buying new pedals, new FX. Something that has been a really big help recently has been getting sponsored by Mr. Black pedals out of Portland, a great pedal company. We’ve been trying really hard to create new tones and textures. It’s always the goal.
When I sit and listen to your albums, you are just masters at volume. You are great at textures and tones and that’s all there but your work with volume is amazing.
Thanks, we try to focus on making sure the crescendos are as hard as they can be and softer parts are as gentle as they can be. It’s fun to write music that way, but, admittedly, it can become predictable at times in this genre but we try to do our best to break away from the norm.
I guess I would like to start by asking about the recent re-release of Young Mountain on its 10th anniversary. How has the album held up for those of you who were in the band at the time? Looking back, how do you feel about these tracks in the history of the band?
It was an interesting thing because I hadn’t listened to that album for years and years until we decided to do the anniversary tours. Going back and listening to that album, it was something that we were embarrassed about for so long for some reason. When I went back and listened to it, it was the same for Chris and other people involved, we all thought this was indeed something special. We’re glad that Brent from Magic Bullet pushed us to release because we did not want to release that album. Self-Titled was the one we wanted to be our first album. Brent was like “no, this is a good album! You need to push it!” We just trusted him and he’s been a great mentor, a great friend. If it wasn’t for him, we may not be where are at right now.
When you go through the individual tracks on Young Mountain, how does it hold up for you in terms of where you are at as a musician?
I think Young Mountain definitely has a very simplistic… I’m not sure what the best way to put it is… a little naivete in it but we didn’t know what kind of band we were going to be. We weren’t a band that listened to post-rock music. It was interesting that it came out that way and we became a post-rock band. But it was all natural the way that it was written. We came from a pop atmosphere. The original four members of This Will Destroy You were in a pop-punk band. Towards the end we got a little more “Thricey”. When we went instrumental, there were pop structures and we were still writing the same way. It was just without vocals and it was more melodic. In the place of vocals, we were putting those melodies on guitar, piano, or whatever instrument we were using. I’m still fascinated by the whole thing. I mean, it took off and the fact that people still come to our shows still blows my mind. I can’t believe I’m doing this for a living. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that.
You included a bonus track on the tenth-anniversary edition of Young Mountain entitled “Sleep”. Can you please talk about the writing and recording of that track?
So there are two tracks, “Sleep” and one called “Southern Comfort”, that we cut from the album. I don’t remember exactly when we wrote them. It wasn’t in the studio. It was before we went in and, for whatever reason at the time, we didn’t feel that those two tracks fit with the vibe of the album. Right when we started talking about the 10th anniversary stuff, I was running through an old hard drive and I found those two songs. I was listening to “Sleep” and thought “This totally fits with Young Mountain!” It totally fits the sound and the style of it. So, I sent it to Chris and he was like “I totally forgot about this song! We should put it out there as a special bonus for the tenth anniversary.” I showed it to Brent. I don’t even know if Brent had heard it before. I think we just sent him the original six tracks. We all thought it was a pretty good song. It was nice to have something from that era just pop up out of nowhere. It had probably been a decade since I had heard that song or remembered its name. I found a lot of gems on that hard drive. I found our very first show that we ever played. Songs that we had that we played live that I didn’t even remember writing. Some of them, we probably didn’t record. It all just happened at the right time and I’m just glad we decided to put “Sleep” out with it.
So, moving away from the early years of the band, let’s talk about Another Language a bit and ask the same questions about how you all see these tracks and that particular album after the passage of about two and a half years.
It’s weird. With Another Language, I can still listen to that album. Maybe once every couple of months, I will listen to it. I’m really proud of it. It was a bit of a struggle at first going from Tunnel Blanket into Another Language. Tunnel Blanket was such a unique experience to write and it would have been so easy to make a Tunnel Blanket version 2. But we heard our fans that they missed a lot of the up-front melodies and, it wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision, but it just kind of happened where Another Language ended up feeling like a mix of everything we had done as a band put together on one album.
Yeah, after sitting through your catalog in order, you can really hear the progression of the band through your releases.
And some of the fans that didn’t like Tunnel Blanket when it first came out have said it’s grown on them. We hear that a lot now. It’s great to hear. We were definitely in the red for a while with that album though.
You recently released a digital single of “The Puritan” long after its release on the album. Why this track and why now? Can you also talk a bit about writing and recording this song?
There was a period of time where we were really struggling to find… like I said, after Tunnel Blanket… what this album was going to sound like. Everybody in the band was writing their own stuff and trying to prepare for it. There was a period of a week or two when me and Chris, who had just gotten his CP6, his piano, we probably wrote an album’s worth of material during that timeframe. “The Puritan” was one of the songs that stood out. We just really liked the vibe of that track. I know that, for most people, it’s probably one that they skip over.
I love that track.
Yeah, there are some beautiful piano tones and we are doing these weird swells through tape. We do all this weird stuff and it was really fun to write. And having Julianna Barwick, a person we really respect, do a remix of it was awesome. We’re stoked about it. Just to be involved with her at all is a blessing.
So, since we chose some songs from Young Mountain to talk about, I thought we might choose some from Another Language (minus The Puritan) to chat about. I wanted to ask you about the writing and recording of “Serpent Mound” and “Mother Opiate”.
I’ll start with “Mother Opiate”. “Mother Opiate” was a song that we wrote shortly after writing Tunnel Blanket. We did another similar track called “Powdered Hand”. With that one [Mother Opiate] when we wrote it, there was this almost Twin Peaks vibe to it that we really dug. We sat on that track for a while and once we started putting Another Language together, we were like, we think this fits. I love that track
On “Serpent Mind”, a lot of the samples you hear at the beginning are a track that Chris created and we kind of chopped some stuff up and moved it around for structure and started writing on top of it. Originally, the end of that song was still really hard and heavy but there was a guitar melody on to of that that sounded like “TOUCHDOWN!” and didn’t really fit the album. So we told our producer to just make that cheesy guitar melody sound fucked up. He put a bit-crusher on it and I don’t know what else and fucked the shit out of the ending of it and it was great. Once we heard that, we were like, we are keeping this track, it’s going on the album.
So, those two tracks are basically the center of the album. There’s a track inbetween them, “War Prayer”, but they are essentially the center. Apparently, the center of Another Language is what really hit me.
I love to hear that. Normally, after “War Prayer”, people skip a couple songs.
For the gearheads who read Somewherecold, can you talk about what you use equipment-wise both in the studio and live?
I’ll talk about one of my secret weapons. I won’t go into too much detail. For the tonality of my guitar, I wanted a little bit of grit and I wanted it to.. you know Tunnel Blanket was so low passed. It almost sounds like mud and I love that about it… but I wanted my guitar to pop more and John had this Expandora pedal sitting there, which I love for distortion. It’s an amazing distortion pedal. But if you use it a certain way, it can be a tone booster instead of just a distortion pedal. I just left that thing on for all of the recording of Another Language, well, almost every song, and live I leave it on the entire time. Also, with the Echo Dream 2 from Death by Audio is another one I use for texture. And, of course, Mr. Black bringing in new distortion pedals for us and delays and reverbs and weird modulation pedals. All that stuff has been a treat.
What kind of guitar do you play?
I play a Tele Deluxe. It’s been beaten to hell. I brought it to somebody to get it set up and the guy was like “I ain’t touching this. It’s too beat up. If you want to give me $400 to rebuild this thing, I’ll do it for you. Otherwise, I’m not going to touch it.” I have to setup my guitar on my own. I’m not letting that baby go. I’ll probably buy a backup guitar and Tele’s I’m pretty monogamous with.
What does Chris play?
He plays a Jaguar and also a Rickenbacker.
So, what’s next for This Will Destroy You?
We have two scores that we are hoping to release in the next year. We are hoping to write the next full-band album over the summer and maybe have a Fall or Spring release in 1018 at the latest. We can’t wait to get some new music out there. We are able, now, to finally talk about one of the scores we did. It’s for this amazing experimental restaurant in Culver City, California called Vespertine. It opens up in April and it is insane. There are four different floors in the restaurant and every floor has a different song. We produced about sixty-two minutes worth of material that’s being looped and every area of the restaurant has different music. A world-famous architect is involved. All the artists involved… it’s mind-blowing.
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