When Denver's Rumble Young Man Rumble formed four years ago, the post-rock quartet opted to tell stories through instrumental music rather than lyrics. Taking cues from Russian Circles, Explosions in the Sky, This Will Destroy You and Mogwai, the band's concept album, Absolute, released last summer, is a tale about humanity.
The fourteen-track Absolute, a sprawling recording that showcases the act’s use of dynamics, was originally released as three EPs: Transmission, Desolate and Rebirth. Transmission acts as an ambient introduction, and guitarist Rob Garza says it sets the stage with a sound that suggests life is happy. But then things start to digress.
“We got heavier as [Desolate] went on, and it’s really about shit falling apart at that point,” Garza says. "And then the third one, we kind of wrap it up. What truly happened, no one really knows. We took this virus…it’s essentially just about life. It’s about losing a loved one. It’s about your first boyfriend or girlfriend, just kind of the digression of pain and suffering, essentially. Obviously, we took it from the standpoint of a virus and humanity and how great and how awful we can all be to each other. It’s a little heavy.”
As with a lot of the band’s songs, the musicians start with titles first and then write the music.
“And we’ve got a list of thirty song titles that we’re like, ‘Okay, these things kind of fit together. What happens first? What happens next in this story?’ And then we start writing song titles and then writing the music that kind of fits that feeling. That’s how we’ve always approached it.”
While it took nearly a year and a half for Garza, guitarist Bob Niles, bassist Eric Smith and drummer Chris Dunne to complete Absolute, they plan on spending less time on the followup; Garza says they’re shooting to record six songs by the end of this summer and release a new album in the second half of the year. On many of the cuts on Absolute, the two guitars were the main focus, but with the new material, the band is working in synthesizers and electronics, as well.
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Rumble Young Man Rumble is planning on playing some of the new songs at its show at the Walnut Room on Saturday, February 22, with Gila & the Monsters, Cure for Pain and Park Project. The band puts a lot of energy into its shows, says Garza, who likens concerts to what legendary boxer Muhammad Ali did in the ring. Garza — a huge fan of boxing, Muay Thai and mixed martial arts — borrowed the band’s moniker from an 1964 Ali quote before his fight with Sonny Liston: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Rumble, young man, rumble.”
Ali was flashy and a bit eclectic, kind of like the band is, Garza explains.
“When we play a live show, we put everything into it,” he says. “I’m 38 years old, and I get done playing a show and I’m sore for three days. We just put everything into our shows and really want to make it a fun experience for everyone. [The band name] was just kind of a play on that — how eclectic he was, and he just really tried to promote himself. And that’s what we try to do. We don’t play too often. Maybe six times a year. But when we do, we’re bringing lights. We’re bringing energy.”
Rumble Young Man Rumble plays at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 22, at the Walnut Room, 3131 Walnut Street. Tickets are $10-$15 and available at the Walnut Room website.
Listen to Rumble Young Man Rumble and more favorites from Westword writers on our Westword Staff Picks playlist.