Explosive instrumental rock comes to Mesa
Drummer Chris Hrasky can’t believe Explosions In The Sky has been together 13 years. Although he is the only non-native Texan in the band, Hrasky and band mates Mark Smith, Munaf Rayani and Michael James had no problem learning each other’s musical styles and strengths when they met in Austin, Texas, more than a decade ago.
The biggest difference between Explosions and other bands is that there is no vocalist. The band is entirely instrumental rock.
Hrasky recently spoke in a phone interview from his home in Austin before Explosions embarked on its spring tour that will stop in Grand Junction for an all-ages show at 9 p.m. Friday, April 6, at Mesa Theater and Club, 538 Main St.
The Grand Junction show is one of six the band will play before its April 13 appearance at the sold-out Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival.
Melinda Mawdsley: The other band members knew each other, but you were the outsider from the Midwest. How did you end up in the band?
Chris Hrasky: I moved to Austin and missed playing music. I decided to put up this dumb flyer to try and find musicians, which was a really weird move for me. To actively pursue total strangers is not my personality. I met up with various people, it and it was weird and uncomfortable, and then I met these guys, and we sort of hit it off instantly. We got together and started playing with no intention of it being our career.
Mawdsley: You never wanted to be “rock stars?”
Hrasky: No. Of course everyone who plays music has a dream about that, but it wasn’t like we pursued record labels. Record labels were pursued on our behalf by friends, and we didn’t know it. We worked hard, but we never thought we’d get to this point.
Mawdsley: When did that change?
Hrasky: In 2003, there was a point we decided we were going to pursue this and basically face financial ruin and disaster to see what we can do.
Mawdsley: Well, congratulations. You tour everywhere now and play to sold out shows. Tell us a little about your music.
Hrasky: From the get go, instrumental rock is what we wanted to do. It was mainly because of the two bands we loved at the time (Mogwai and The Dirty Three). Michael is an incredible singer and does stuff at home that he’ll never release. But as a band, we decided we liked there not being a main guy, and it would be an active collaboration between the four of us.
Mawdsley: Did you think going instrumental was a risky move?
Hrasky: For an organic band to form and fail is to have a career plan set out. The successful bands, at least in terms of indie rock bands, are doing what they want.
Mawdsley: Your sound makes it seem like more than four people are playing, particularly on guitar.
Hrasky: The way they play guitars together, I don’t know if I’ve really ever heard anything like it. They are the least selfish guitar players in the world. It’s always about the four of us kind of disappearing, and the song being the focus. The way those three play off each other makes it sound like 10 dudes are playing. I’m just adding drums.
Mawdsley: Yeah. You guys jam. Is it difficult to find an ending point?
Hrasky: It’s hard for us to really write songs. (Laughing). We probably throw away 90 percent of the stuff we write. I wish we were more prolific, but it’s trial and error.
Mawdsley: I’ve heard great things about your live shows. What can Mesa Theater patrons expect April 6?
Hrasky: We want the show to be pretty intense and engaging. We try to get lost in the music as much as we can. I hate nothing more than going to see a band that stands around and seems bored. If you are going to be that way live, then don’t play live. We play with our hearts. The hope is it’s memorable and intense. It’s pretty different than a normal rock show. We come out and say “hello,” but we don’t stop and talk and play encores. We sometimes feel bad that a city feels bad that we don’t play an encore, but it’s a policy of ours. It’s a rock show in that we get crazy and rock out, but hopefully it’s different and memorable.