The website self-titled daily has a neat Q&A with Explosions in the Sky guitarist Mark Smith where he explains the band's plan to have Phish's career (though they are definitely not into Phish's music) and the influence the late writer David Foster Wallace had on their recent albums.
Here's what they had to say about Phish and DFW:
Please let me explain. I actually don't like Phish at all. (Sorry Trey.) But somewhere along the way, I feel like our band began to resemble the career model that Phish enjoyed. Basically I mean that they are a band who their fans feel extremely strongly about, with an emphasis on their live shows, but maybe they weren't, how shall I say, critical darlings. I kind of feel we have headed in the same direction. I am stunned and humbled and pleased and many other emotions when I open our band emails and see how our music has affected people. And there are still a beautiful amount of people who actually write us actual physical handwritten letters on paper and send them to our real-world P.O. Box. And it's hard to generalize about album reviews and critical response, but I've read enough to know that there are certain criticisms about us that I seriously doubt we'll ever shake. This all is very much a big surprise to me. After we released our first couple of records so many years ago, I figured we were absolutely destined to be the opposite--critically praised but limited by the kind of music we make. Oh well! Who can predict anything. Anyway, this is all a convoluted way of saying when we were writing this record, we had to just make the music that we love, that fulfilled us. And the fans, man.
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I loved [David Foster Wallace] (from afar), and I was devastated when I found out about his suicide. This is hard to put, but it just felt like here is probably the smartest guy I have ever been aware of, someone who immersed himself in so many subjects and trades and had a knowledge and enthusiasm about so many elements of life, and was just bursting at the seams to write all he could about it all. In short, here is someone who in fact seems full of life...and if he decided he couldn't take it (the world), then what chance do the rest of us have? That tidy analysis, of course, skirts his depression and addictions, but even those were relatable. In the four years since our last record, all four of us have read his stuff and loved the hell out of it, from Infinite Jest to Roger Federer as Religious Experience and everything in between. And he just seemed like someone we would know, and made so many good points about so many things, that I find myself thinking about something he's said on a nearly daily basis. So I can only assume a lot of that--his enthusiasm and love, as well as the darker stuff--went into this record.