If Quentin Tarantino ever wants a house band then he need look no further than Khruangbin. The Texan trio, whose name translates as ‘engine fly’, combine largely instrumental surf music with dark psychedelia and Thai funk.
“Mark [Speer, guitar] found a blog called monrakplengthai, which features various cassette tapes from Thailand from the 60s and 70s,” explains bassist Laura Lee of this latter’s rather esoteric influence.
“It’s the Thai equivalent to Awesome Tapes From Africa. He made a few CDs of his favorite stuff, and those were the mixes we listened to on the way to the barn every day.”
The barn to which she refers is the place they recorded their debut album, The Universe Smiles Upon You (Night Time Stories, 2015). Set deep in the remote Texas countryside, the location influenced the material’s sense of space and afforded opportunities to make field recordings of rain and crickets.
“The barn is the fourth member of the band,” jokes Lee. “Having the ability to play for open blue skies, rolling hills and cows ... it’s unlike any other place in the world. We feel like we have space to think there. It’s our musical home.”
She also attributes the barn to the album’s reassuringly familiar retro sound. The space, “seems to add an old-school sort of quality to the sound. I think the familiarity quality is potentially from the nostalgic sentiment of the songs. Nostalgia is something I feel a lot of when I’m writing.”
The barn is the fourth member of the band. Having the ability to play for open blue skies, rolling hills and cows ... it’s unlike any other place in the world.
Despite this wistfulness the band’s happy to embrace current musical influences, including Todd Terje and Tinariwen, and modern technologies. This latter has been especially important since Lee moved to London and kept in contact with her US-based band mates via Skype.
“We send things back and forth, she explains of the new writing process. “We make collaborative playlists of references. And when it comes to recording, I simply travel to Texas.”
This is something she did in August when the band returned to the studio to start work on their second album. “We’re not usually the type of band to give anything away, but let’s just say that this time around, we’re travelling the globe a bit in terms of our inspiration,” she says of its direction.
Before the record is completed the band will be extensively touring the UK, calling off at The Wardrobe on October 19, when they promise to be, “Funky! Groovy! Sexy! Surfy!”
For further details visit www.khruangbin.com