Explosions In The Sky - Biography
“This totally fucking destroys” is arguably the most apt description of the Austin, Texas-based quartet Explosions In The Sky. That was the note fellow post-rockers The American Analog Set attached to the EITS demo they sent to the Temporary Residence Limited label. After only half a listen, the label unanimously agreed and it wouldn’t be long before the indie rock world would fall hard for the instrumental grandiosity of Explosions In The Sky.
Formed in 1999 by mutual friends Mark Smith (guitars), Munaf Rayani (guitars), Michael James (bass), and Christopher Hrasky (drums), Explosions In The Sky began writing cinematic symphonies using traditional rock instrumentation under the moniker Breaker Morant. Keen on the idea of going without a frontman—leaving the songs free to ebb and flow without adhering to a traditional structure—the band self-recorded a rough demo tape. After Hrasky made a comment about “explosions in the sky” upon witnessing a fireworks display, the group officially adopted the term.
Explosions in the Sky gained an immediate local following through their intense, often caustic live shows. After signing with Temporary Residence Limited, they released their debut full-length, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever (2001 Temporary Residence), an instrumentally volatile first effort that sent shockwaves through the underground. Packed with violent guitar distortion, metal percussion, gothic overtones and a theme of dread at turns transmogrifying into bliss, the album was an instant critical darling. Explosions In The Sky began expanding its fanbase via continuous touring in the album’s support.
The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place (2003 Temporary Residence) jettisoned the destructive distortion in favor of sublime ambient melancholia. The mood-jiggering album caught the attention of film composer Brian Reitzell, who asked the band to score his upcoming nonfiction football picture, Friday Night Lights. While the film was a moderate box office success, it did increase Explosion in the Sky’s exposure—particularly in Hollywood. The band would eventually compose music for the subsequent Friday Night Lights television series while but contributing songs to numerous commercials, films, and television shows.
The Austin band’s infamous demo—which they sold a few hundred copies of as a CD-R before they were signed—was released as How Strange, Innocence (Temporary Residence) in 2005. The album and its shifting volume ranges and instrumental experimentation is studio raw, but it shows the musicianship and direction of the band from the early days.
It would be two more years before their next full length release. All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone (2007 Temporary Residence) melded their bipolar sonic personalities by oscillating between violence and beauty flawlessly. The following year the band was asked to curate the 2008 All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival in Minehead, England, where they were also the headlining act.