It’s fair to say Portland post-rock instrumental outfit Grails aren't your average import.
Playing everything from ‘70s cop show-inspired chamber music to avant-garde sound collage and world psychedelia, they’ll expand your mind or die trying.
“Grails has tried to broaden its musical vocabulary as far as it can,” explains drummer Emil Amos.
A reluctant rock star, Emil's days are most happily spent fine tuning, reworking and warping the group's studio work.
“Growing up, I never set out to [perform live]. I kind of imagined I could just sit in a basement and people would care, then I realised that’s not how it works. I woke up one day and now it’s kind of a job. Playing live is what I have to do; I don’t particularly live and die by it. I don’t feel like I need to prove myself to people in any sort of live sense. My natural habitat is definitely in the studio, it’s my first love.”
The live act isn't without its positive aspects. “I am a pretty angry person,” Emil laughs, “so it is good to get some of that out. It's a therapeutic thing.”
The process of making a Grails album is a mysterious one.
“Every time an album is completed or a tour finishes it feels almost as if the band retires. It feels like the band could be over and then these [new] compositions just sort of start taking embryonic shape, maybe on acoustic guitar. These melodies are just hanging around, then we move towards new additions to our record collection and we get some new equipment.
”We don’t even notice it, we just start combining melodies and new methods and something just starts happening. Me and Alex are spending, honestly, thousands of hours mixing. We take all the tracks that have been recorded in the studio and then we spend ungodly amounts of time reconstructing them and breaking them down, trying to ask what would actually make this a unique new configuration. That process is really what you are hearing when you put on 'Deep Politics'.”
The band’s instrumental nature throws up issues that Emil evidently enjoys to attempt to solve.
“It certainly challenges you to find a deeper vocabulary, a deeper way you can captivate people. Through sheer imagination you kind of have to out think what you have heard before, and that can be totally challenging.”
‘Deep Politics’ is out now. Grails play The Zoo Wednesday October 17.