North American post-rockers Explosions in the Sky take time out from doing the laundry to return to New Zealand for two shows this month.
Spending months on the road can really take a toll on a band, making them yearn for the details of home life.
It's been that way for Texan quartet Explosions in the Sky, who have been doing a lot of touring over the last few years.
"When you spend a lot of time touring you can really miss the sort of bland domestic life," guitarist/bassist Michael James says. "We all sink into that when we're at home and spend a lot of time doing laundry."
However life on the road with the post-rockers, who formed in 1999, sounds relatively harmonious. James relates that he, fellow guitarists Munaf Rayani and Mark Smith, and drummer Chris Hrasky, are best friends and even hang out together when they're not touring.
That's a little surprising, given they also spend long periods together when making a record. Explosions in the Sky's sixth, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, released in April, arrived four years after 2007's All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone.
While it seems like a long time, it's not as if they were waiting around for inspiration to strike, James explains.
"The first two years was just touring, and we can't write music on tour," he says. "So when we got home we decompressed for a while and then for a year and a half we were writing the album. It takes us a long time - we all have to love the music deeply."
Achieving that unanimity is a time-consuming process, mainly borne out of the democratic nature of the band.
It's also a consequence of a driving desire to keep pushing the sound of Explosions in the Sky further with each record. James says this meant a lot of trial and error when it came to Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.
"We just spent a lot of time experimenting with new sounds and textures and new ways to write music with each other," he says. "It can be very frustrating because it doesn't always work, but when it does and it strikes a chord within you, that's the most rewarding thing."
The band's expansive sonic creations often sprawl to eight or 10 minutes in length, their sense of innate dynamics gradually unfurling into something breathtaking.
James says Explosions in the Sky never set out to write songs that long, they just organically end up that way.
It's in the writing that the creativity really occurs for them, as opposed to in the studio or on stage.
"The writing process is where we exercise our creativity," James says. "By the time we get to the studio we know how we want to record. But in the writing process we just spend a year trying weird stuff. On stage we don't improvise or alter the songs very much. We're not very good improvisers, so we tend to keep it as it is."
And that seems to be working out pretty good for the band, given the success of Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. It's been their most popular effort so far, getting good reviews and reaching number 16 on the US Billboard charts. That's far outweighed their expectations for the album.
"Being in the Billboard Top 20 for an instrumental band, that's just amazing," James says. "It speaks well of the listening public that people are kind of interested in new things and music they aren't used to. It's very encouraging."
So much so that he'd be happy if Explosions in the Sky's career remained on its current trajectory. They'd be happy to just keep playing for people having already far surpassed their expectations for the band.
Supporting The Flaming Lips on tour in 2009 had a large hand in that.
"It was at a time when we needed to take some time off to write music," James relates. "We told our booking agent, 'We're not going to play any shows for a while, but if The Flaming Lips call... '; it was a joke, but a month later The Flaming Lips called. It was really a dream come true."
*Explosions in the Sky play Wellington's San Francisco Bath House on Thursday 15 December and Auckland's Kings Arms on Friday 16 December.