I saw you guys play Wasted Space here in Las Vegas in early 2010 and then 15 months later at Coachella, and the latter felt a lot dancier. Is that how your sound is evolving?
Things have gotten more song-y. When we started, we were playing basements and DIY venues across the country, and it’s like that David Byrne thing—subconsciously you make music for the venue that it will be performed in. As things get bigger, you start writing songs for bigger places and different sound systems.
How have your fans responded?
Our fans are really cool—they’re just into what we do. And also, the weird thing is, even in our old harsh, experimental scene, the more poppy things were strangely embraced. Like, really hardcore dudes would be like, “Oh, I really like the melodic one.” (laughs)
We were into experimental music, but we didn’t like that a lot of times, it wasn’t really being made with an audience in mind. And the shock value would wear off, and it would get boring. So we’ve always put lots of thought into how things are structured. Even the real atonal type stuff that we do, it’s always been structured—there’s a lot of restraint and it’s always compartmentalized.
What’s your goal when you play live?
All our sets have sort of an arc or a narrative in terms of transitions and where energy goes up and down. We try to have it as close to seamless as we can, and there’s sort of a journey. It’s not just a set of songs. That’s always been a big deal for us.
You guys are scoring the video game Max Payne 3. What has that process been like?
It’s a linear game with 15 levels, and each level needs a lot of music ’cause each level will take the average person about an hour to beat. We need to make music that goes on indefinitely, that can be recombined in different ways to make different pieces of music. So we have six musical elements that can be mixed and matched to make different cues for different feelings. The mood needs to always be there, because it’s supporting the action. It’s supporting you shooting people in the f*cking face.
Your last album [Get Color] came out in 2009. What’s the update on the next one?
What happened is, we were in the midst of working on our record and the game came up, so we had to postpone the record. But I’d say we’re more than half done with it. The plan is, the second we’re done with this game, which is hopefully in a week, we’re gonna go gung-ho and just finish the record. And then once the record comes out, we’re gonna be touring forever like we’re used to.