Typically, Manchester, New Hampshire does not come to mind when you think “home of an instrumental post-rock band.” But it is indeed the home of Girih. Made up of three members – Alex Paul, Brian Luttrell, and Jeremy Dingman – Girih has become pretty popular in the northeast for their unique sound and impressive live shows. I got the chance to talk to all three of them about where the name Girih comes from, how long their new album Eigengrau took from start to finish, what fans can expect from a live show and so much more! Keep reading to see what they had to say.
For those who may not have heard of Y’all, can you give us a brief history of the band and how you guys came together?
Brian: Alex and myself were acquaintances from playing shows together around New England in our previous bands. In 2015, Alex left Actor | Observer and I also decided to end my band of 10 years, Shot Heard Around The World. I ended up seeing Alex at a show in the winter of 2016. I remembered seeing a post he had made a few months earlier about wanting to start an instrumental band; after some discussion, we ended up making plans to hang out. After a couple of sessions, it was clear to us that we were able to write together fluidly and that it was time to find more members to complete the band. Around the same time, Jeremy was returning home from a deployment overseas and he answered a Craigslist ad that Alex had posted. It all came together once we met Jeremy. After only a few minutes of improvising, I think all of us knew we were on to something special. We even brought other musicians into the mix and it never felt as good as when it was just the three of us. So we decided to move forward as Girih.
Where in the world did the name Girih come from? What does it mean?
Alex: You may already know about it, just not by name. The Taj Majal is a building full of girih tiling, before modern mathematicians rediscovered it and called it penrose tiling. It’s an art form that is without subject, and we were drawn to that sort of idea; having a powerful piece of art without knowing or declaring the artist’s intent.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. So how would you describe your sound without using genre names? What kind of music do you produce?
Jeremy: Whatever it makes you think of or feel while you’re listening is what we’re trying to convey. We’re just taking you on your own personal journey through the music, its open to interpretation. Without lyrics, we allow the songs to be experienced differently for each listener.
Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences as a band?
Alex: Honestly, as a band, we are influenced by anything that doesn’t have a straight linear writing style. We get inspired by songs and styles that are narrative driven instead of catching choruses. Russian Circles, O’Brother, Mogwai, Caspian, all come to mind.
Let’s talk about the new album, Eigengrau. First off, where does the name come from?
Jeremy: Eigengrau is the color that the human eye “sees” in the absence of light, roughly translated it means “intrinsically gray”. It’s part of the album concept, which we’ve left up to the listener to discover what that is.
What was the recording process like? How long did it take for this to come together from start to finish?
Brian: We started by just experimenting with sounds and ideas for the first six months before we attempted to start writing anything. The album came together over the course of about a year, and we recorded it last October. That process was very fun. We really got a sound that we think brings something new and refreshing to the world of post-rock and post-metal.
I always love hearing about the songwriting process so I was wondering if you could give me a glimpse into that. How different is your songwriting process from what one would typically expect since you guys are solely an instrumental band?
Brian: I think for a lot of bands songs start as a demo on a computer but our music is more reactionary than preconceived. One of us will come up with a loop, drum beat, or riff that will inspire the others to build off of. We are far more concerned with the vibe of a song than any kind of traditional song structure.
Your latest single from the project is “Sinnesolschen.“ What inspired that song?
Alex: That song was inspired by a desire to push ourselves with new textural content. We wanted to be able to achieve a washed-out sort of sound and also start a song directly into the heaviness we know we can achieve. The song progressed further beyond that, but certainly, those ideas spurred the song into more than just an idea.
You guys also shot a video for “Sinnesolschen.” This video is so fascinating to me because it’s focused on the visuals, the kind of atmosphere the music creates and what you’re supposed to be feeling rather than a traditional “storyline” kind of video. What was the creative process like for this video? How much say did you guys get in it?
Alex: We actually wrote the whole concept and also wrote a storyboard for most of it, and then contacted Misdirected Media. Both Geof and Brennan of Misdirected worked with us to find ways to conceptually put together how to film what we had in our mind. It was an insane idea to film, between not having the band in the film and not having a straightforward story to let you sit in; it was more about the feelings and a vague but perceivable concept. Between filming ultra-micro shots and messing around with the minute details, to helping fill in the narrative gaps in the film and really tie the whole thing together, working with Misdirected Media to pull the whole thing together worked great.
I’m sure you guys put on an incredible live show. What can fans expect when they go to see Girih live?
Jeremy: We worked really hard on making a really unique and visceral sound and also try to make the live show match. From the beginning, we always wanted our shows to be more like a piece of art than just a collection of tunes, you know. So the whole performance flows from one part to the next. There is a lot that we’ve worked on to make it as fluid and seamless as live music can be.
You guys have done something that is pretty difficult to do and that is to make a name for yourself as an instrumental band. What do you guys attribute to your success and where do you guys see yourselves as a band in the next couple of years?
Jeremy: I think we just have the right combination of musicians and influences. The band itself listens to a very diverse array of bands. Ideally, we’d like to have some national tours under our belts, but we are just excited to launch this record and have people listen.
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner-nerd. What is something you nerd out about?
Brian: We just finished hand-making all the inserts for our vinyl records, which was a challenge artistically and logistically. We decided to make our own sheet of braille to include with the vinyls, which meant making a steel blank to then press into heavyweight paper. Between learning about braille itself, and then attempting to physically make it, there was a lot of moments that really challenged us.