I spent an absurd amount of time and energy on this story, because I was just very excited to tell it. Explosions In The Sky’s music has always meant a lot to me, and there are certain Austin bands who were very much local bands around the time I first moved here — Okkervil River, Explosions In The Sky, even Spoon, to some extent — and their journey to world-famous rock stars has always really interested me. I mean, Will Sheff was my video store clerk for a really long time, you know? Now he’s an Important Figure In Contemporary Rock, and I’m delighted — I loved his songs when he would made snide remarks about the Parker Posey movie I was renting, and I love his music now — but it’s still fascinating to me.
Explosions In The Sky are a special case, because those dudes did things so much on their own terms. I mean, they got lucky, especially with Friday Night Lights (and they’re the first ones to acknowledge that), but there are so few artists who are able to really just shut up, ignore everything about the industry and the wider pop culture, write really powerful and moving music, and somehow still get famous for it.
In that context, Explosions In The Sky are one of the finest artistic success stories I know. So when I pushed this oral history, I was really just partly excited to get to know the guys in the band a little bit (as you might hope, they’re exceedingly down to earth and friendly) and partly interested in learning about that success story firsthand. There were people I wanted to talk to, in order to fill it in, who I couldn’t — Conrad Keely from Trail Of Dead was out of the country most of the time I was working on the story, and I couldn’t get a hold of him even though I’m pretty sure we live in the same neighborhood. Peter Berg, who directed Friday Night Lights, is busy preparing a new TV series, finishing the Battleship movie (with Tim Riggins, y’all), and probably opening a chain of organic sandwich shops in the Pacific Northwest or something.
On the other hand, I got WG Snuffy Walden, who composed the music for the Friday Night Lights TV series, to talk candidly about the experience of being a soundtrack guy brought in to work in the band’s style, which I was really excited about. And Graham Williams of Transmission Entertainment, who gave the guys their first-ever show, provided a lot of crucial background and color from the band’s longest-time fan.
But mostly, I’m just really proud of the fact that this band, whose music really has meant so much to me for so long, let me tell its story. I’ve never had the opportunity to write more than about 1,200 words for The A.V. Club before — this one clocks in over 3,500 words. I’m really pleased with how it came out.