Their debut album has received a healthy amount of critical acclaim – the sort that uses words like ‘atmospheric’, ‘brooding’, and ‘epic post rock’. Signed to one of the most successful independent labels, Beggars Banquet, playing South-by-South West, and soon to be embarking on an American and European tour, Film School are no longer on rock ‘n’ roll’s back burner; but are they doing anything different?
By Rachael Clegg
I’m trying to interview Film School’s singer/guitarist Krayg Burton on the telephone, but his attention is somewhat divided as the clatter of equipment and the quiet but constant sound of background conversation permeate the poor connection. Film School are on a tour bus waiting to play a show at South-by-South West (SXSW). “It’s an industry nightmare”, says Krayg. “It’s fun when you’re on stage but it’s so overloaded with crazy industry music stuff. It’s really nuts - with over a thousand bands here and every band is trying to get attention. We’re playing three parties and a showcase. It’s all going really well so far’.
Burton’s responses to questions are imbued with 110% confidence. Asked if Film School are nervous about playing such an important event, he responds, “I haven’t really felt nervous. I just feel very empowered to even be here. I don’t feel nervous at all. I feel very strong.”
The band met in 1998. “We were all based in San Francisco, I was playing in a band with the drummer and we broke up and I continued to make music. I wrote an album and brought in more people; one was Miles and one was Jason. We invited some other people and started writing more collaboratively, we did an EP and then we brought out an album. We’ve been a band for about four years.” Since Film School has existed “interpretations have changed’, according to Krayg, yet ‘There’s always been this atmospheric quality to our music’.
As far as lyrics are concerned: “I guess I always try and talk about things that are happening so I guess from that point of view they are personal”. Does he feel exposed doing this? “No, I don’t because I feel that other people have very similar experiences.”
Film School’s sound – marked by progressive, guitar-laden build-ups and moody use of dynamics – is not in a league of its own. There are a plethora of bands producing atmospheric, ‘wall of sound’ music such as Explosions in the Sky, The Early Years and the Secret Machines. When asked whether Film School are different from any of these bands Krayg says, “That I don’t know; I think there are some bands doing this atmospheric thing so I think that’s where we are but I think we have more of a driving aggressiveness. We keep getting compared to Joy Division and the Cure but I just don’t see it.”
Film School are inspired by “Early nineties bands: The Stone Roses; My Bloody Valentine and a lot from the Northwest scene like Nirvana.” The direction of the band is somewhat unknown: “I don’t know what [we’ll do for the next project]; we’re still touring for this album.”
It will be interesting to see whether Film School do anything different within the saturated genre of ‘atmospheric, brooding, epic post rock’ guitar bands. The band’s critical acclaim implies they are ticking the right boxes for an ‘atmospheric, brooding, epic post rock band’, but the next album will confirm whether this is mere ‘box ticking’ of a tried-and-tested formula, or something new. What on earth is ‘post – rock’ anyway?###