If you are a Brad Pitt fan, you might have heard of this instrumental outfit from Austin, Texas. How, you might ask? “The Mighty Rio Grande,” a track off of This Will Destroy You’s self-titled release, was featured in the 2011 movie, Moneyball. Two years later, the band was paired with Pitt again, with their song “Villa Del Refugio” gaining a spot in the 2013 zombie movie, World War Z. The group will also be featured on the soundtrack of the upcoming Steve Carell/Channing Tatum flick, Foxcatcher.
I had the chance to talk to co-founder and guitarist Chris King about the band’s latest full-length, Another Language, which came out in September. We discussed the writing and recording process for the LP, what it was like leaving management and the transition to running their own show, and connecting with their fans. We also sat down and talked about his favorite Halloween soundtrack, tips for DIY bands, and what the group’s overall goal is in the film industry. Check out what Chris had to say below:
You guys just finished a tour in Europe. How did that go?
We were gone for about four and a half weeks. Whenever you are gone that long, you start to get this cabin fever kind of vibe. Besides that, all of the shows were great, the people were great. I think it might have been the best European tour to date.
That’s great. No horror stories?
Nothing out of the ordinary, surprisingly. We have had issues in the past, but nothing on this tour (laughs).
Now, Another Language is available via LE cassette on Holodeck Records and digital/CD/2xLP on Suicide Squeeze Records. Will you be bringing the LPs and cassettes with you on tour?
Yup, we plan on having copies of both of those with us while on tour.
Where did the idea of selling the album on cassette come from?
I’ve been helping out Holodeck in Austin and they have been putting tapes out for about three or four years. I think just being involved with record labels in Austin stems from the DIY/punk kind of setting. Some people may see it as mostly a novelty, but I think some records just sound different on cassette. It’s just a different experience listening to different formats, not to sound pretentious or anything (laughs).
Very true. How long were you guys in the studio recording this one?
This is the first one we have done that was mostly written in the studio. Our drummer Alex [Bhore] is actually working for our producer John [Congleton], so we had access to the studio for the most part. The process took place over a few years. When we finally got into the studio together is when we really started to pin everything down. It was nice to actually have access to a studio for writing. I think it steered the ship a bit and kept things moving.
Would you prefer to write in the studio for a future release, or would you prefer to switch it up?
I’m rather open to switching it up. I think there’s something nice about it being really raw and figuring things out. At the same time, it was nice being overly prepared and it was definitely a lot less stressful for everybody to kind of know exactly what we were doing. It might just depend on where the music is going at that point.
Do you guys generally write new material in between tours or is anything thought up while on the road?
For the most part, it is in between tours. Everyone meets and brings in their own ideas and we start going at it that way. There has been a tiny bit of writing done on the road because at times it is so intense that it is difficult to find the time to write.
What was the transition like when you started to manage yourselves?
Well, when we are on tour, we have tour managers. As far as an overall manager looking out for us, we have a good team working with us. Our booking agents are great about bringing things in and we have people that work on licensing. We find it difficult to pay some person 15 percent of what we are making to forward emails and be the middleman for us that we could take care of ourselves. And it is almost strange to pay someone to do those things when it really isn’t necessary. They are kind of like lawyers where you pay them hourly and they make a nice chunk of change and you’re like, “What are we paying you for?” (Laughs) I think for certain bands it may work really well for them, and we are not opposed to it. I think it would have to be a management company that is the next tier and that we can fully trust at this point.
Any tips for local bands who are starting out or are looking to manage themselves a little more successfully?
The game changes pretty drastically and quickly nowadays. Back when we used to do DIY tours, it was pre-social media. So we basically just kept in contact with people that we would come across and meet. It’s always good to get out there and meet people and being involved in a local scene. Mingling and getting to know is the most important thing. There is more music out there which, I get why it may make everything more difficult, but it could also make things a bit easier with more people to get in touch about shows and things like that.
Right, networking with kids in your scene that want to help or other bands that want to work with you and so on.
Yeah, exactly. Kids that you meet face-to-face are probably more prone to promote the shows a bit more. It is all really just about your interpersonal relationships with others, honestly.
Going back to your music, it tends to evoke a lot of emotion. Have you heard any stories on how it has affected some of your fans that really impacted you?
Yeah. There have been some pretty intense moments. I won’t name names or anything, but there is one that really stuck with me. We had a couple emails back and forth with a fan a few years ago. And he told us how he was listening to one of our records as his mother was dying and he had this metaphysical, spiritual moment with her throughout the span of the record. When the album concluded, she passed away. Getting emails like that is bone-chilling, in a good way. It’s great to hear that it helps in a way.
Your music is also very cinematic and can be heard in films like Moneyball and World War Z. Do you have any plans for one day composing an entire soundtrack or scoring for film/television?
Yeah, that’s honestly been our goal since we started the band about 11 years ago. The idea of touring and playing shows was a little strange to us, but it just happened. Growing up, being engrossed in films, the idea was interesting to us. We have done things like that, but on a smaller scale. We contributed some stuff for Brad Pitt’s production company. That is the top tier goal for the band. It’s looking good, we have several soundtracks that our music will be a part of that are coming out. A movie I am looking forward to coming out with one of our pieces of work is Foxcatcher with Steve Carell and Channing Tatum. It is pretty intense. More opportunities like that would be great. And the goal would be to score a film.
Because it will be Halloween soon enough, do you have a favorite horror movie soundtrack or song?
I’m sure you heard that Goblin got back together. I had the chance to see them play the live score to Suspiria, which is an old Italian horror movie from the ‘70s. So, that is pretty high up on the list for me. That one is definitely the most memorable. I remember the score to the John Carpenter movie, The Fog. There are definitely some other great ones.
You guys will be in the area at the end of the month, including a performance in NY on Halloween. Is there anything else in the works that you would like to talk about?
We will be doing this tour and get over to West Coast, Asia, Australia, and we are trying to get down to Central and South America as well. We plan on getting back into the writing process again soon, but our main focus is touring behind the record. I know there was a lull for a bit, but I think there is more of a push to try to get things to come out every couple of years.
This Will Destroy You will be playing Halloween night, Oct. 31, at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City. They will follow up with a show the next night in Philadelphia at the First Unitarian Church on Nov. 1. Another Language is available now. For more information, go to thiswilldestroyyou.net.