Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Random Rules: Munaf Rayani of Explosions In The Sky

Illustration for article titled Random Rules: Munaf Rayani of Explosions In The Sky

The shuffler: Munaf Rayani, guitarist for Austin-based instrumental rock band Explosions In The Sky. Currently in its eighth year, the group is touring behind its excellent new album, All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone, on which it sounds as grandiose as ever, and also gets comfortable with some new textures.


Wolf Parade, "Fancy Claps"

Munaf Rayani: Yes! This is one of our fuckin' favorite bands, in a real way. Even more than Wolf Parade, we're crazy about Sunset Rubdown, who's Spencer Krug, one of the singers in Wolf Parade. But anyway. When we got this record, Apologies To The Queen Mary, we were floored. We thought that finally something new had come where it was… this is something.

The Beatles, "With A Little Help From My Friends"

MR: Is Ringo singing this one? [Laughs.] We always have a nice chuckle when a Ringo song comes up.

The A.V. Club: Is this your favorite Ringo song?

MR: Probably. The other ones are a bit ridiculous.

Arab Strap, "Phone Me Tonight"

MR: Mad For Sadness was my favorite Arab Strap album, because it's a live show. We had gone up to go record our first label-released album, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever, and we went up to DC to record, but we played a couple shows along the way. We got to Syracuse, New York, and it was the last day of the tour, and it was late December, and our van died. I mean, it just died—the transmission was out, and we had to get the transmission replaced, so we were stranded in these guys' house. For eight days, we lived in the attic, and all of our gear was in their basement. We would just live in the attic and go down to the basement to practice, because they invited us to come stay at their house. In that time, I bought this album. Man, I was stoked.


Radiohead, "Worrywort"

MR: Mark [Smith], one of the other guitar players in the band, he makes mix-CDs for me, and this one he made maybe three years ago, and this is a song that came off it. It's a good track, man. They're a really good band.


Etta James, "If I Can't Have You"

MR: I've got a real love in my heart for old soul music, like stuff coming from the '60s, late '50s, into the '70s, like Sam Cooke and Etta James, and even before that, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. It hits me on a gut level. I'm 26 right now, and if [Nina Simone] were 26 right now, living right now, that's who I would be chasing. I would give up everything to go chase this girl.


Chico Buarque, "Acalanto"

MR: I want to say he's from Brazil, but he might be from Portugal. I'm just a sucker for melody in any respect. There's no one particular genre of music that I'm listening to, so whenever I hear something, even if it's in a foreign language, and it's got that hook, I'm looking for it. We played a few shows in Portugal a couple years ago, and whoever was driving us around in the car was playing Chico Buarque's record, and I'm like, "Who is this?" It was our friend Rodrigo, who's in the Spanish band Migala. When I voiced an interest in it, just out of the kindness of his heart, he gave me the record.


The Flaming Lips, "Buggin'"

MR: In 1999, [The Soft Bulletin] came out, and I was 19 all the time, and God, I was floored. We were all floored, all the boys in the band, and we were so taken with the bombast of it, the grand scale of this record. This was one of our favorite albums.


Explosions In The Sky, "It's Natural To Be Afraid"

MR: This is a demo version that came up. It's a little embarrassing. We've got to keep listening to the stuff to figure out how it's gonna play out. We don't write anything down, and we don't know how to read music or write music, so it's all just in our heads, and that's the whole catalog. We're just practicing it constantly, and when we get to a point where, okay, this might be it or this might be close to it, then we'll sit down and record it so we don't forget how we moved. Even from this particular version, I want to say it changed just by a couple of shades.