If you can spare a minute for irony, visit YouTube and search for "This Will Destroy You Live at Emo's, Austin." That top result (which we've helpfully provided above) is a video uploaded in January that intersperses clips of This Will Destroy You performing in their home state and a brief interview with bassist Donovan Jones and guitarist Jeremy Galindo. At the 35-second mark comes the crucial moment. Jones asks Galindo, "Can we be raw? . . . Fuck post-rock, and fuck being called post-rock." Directly following, on-stage footage captures Jones, Galindo, and company tinkering away at a placid instrumental that thoughtfully, slowly blooms into a texture-heavy tempest — pretty much exactly what qualifies as post-rock.
But Jones's sentiments weren't fleeting. In a May interview with the Dumbing of America, he elaborated: "Fuck post-rock. Namely because there is one or two bands at the head of this classification and all other bands that are embracing that terminology sound very similar to these two bands."
Once that Emo's interview went online, members of After the Post Rock — the genre's most popular discussion forum — assessed Jones's words with varying levels of acceptance. ATPR poster cscc contended, "I don't understand why some bands rebel so much against that label. Try as they might, they'll always be post-rock to me." And ratchett posited, "Post-rock rule number 16: Deny you are post-rock." (There is a lot of truth to rule #16: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, and Explosions in the Sky have all disowned or eschewed the term in interviews.)
Galindo is aware of the flak launched by Jones's statement. "Some guys in the band feel a lot stronger about it than others. The fact is, we wouldn't be anywhere near where we are if we hadn't written a couple of post-rock CDs. We weren't looking to write post-rock CDs. But, yeah, titles are always going to be lame. You're probably never going to like any title anyone puts on your music, but that's how they connect with it. I don't have a big problem with it. It's just a couple of words."
To judge from what This Will Destroy You have hyped, Tunnel Blanket (set for 2011 release) will shift the four-piece away from the standard associations. Although Galindo says they didn't write to rebel against post-rock, the record's premise is pointedly different. The band took along "probably 30-plus instruments" to the studio instead of the typical 10. That included custom-built pieces. "Some made out of bones," says Galindo. "Others from wood." The material, meanwhile, was constructed out of instrumental loops piled into vast layers.
Tunnel Blanket's morose title refers to an acid trip during which a blanket became "the tunnel takes you to the place where the dead rest." And indeed, the record is driven by the theme of death, which Galindo calls "a personal experience. As far as we are concerned, at the end of the tunnel, there is nothing."
This Will Destroy You have, however, cozied up to a portmanteau to describe this dismal vision: "doomgaze" (doom metal + shoegaze). "It's a very doom-y CD, and there's a few songs that are extremely shoegaze-y, so it fits. It rolls right off the tongue." Even as he says this, Galindo must realize the futility of aligning with another genre. "But I'm sure that as soon as too many people start using it, it'll start pissing somebody off and, y'know, back to square one."
THIS WILL DESTROY YOU + AUTOLUX + THE DIRTY DISHES | Middle East downstairs, 480 Mass Ave, Cambridge | Aug 27 at 8 pm | 18+ | $12 advance; $14 doors | 617.864.EAST or mideastclub.com