After 10 years together, proggish art rock five-piece Isis knows when to expand an instrumental interlude and when to pull it back. They know when to create tension and then release it in an instant, only to build the anxiety anew. Listening to an Isis song is an exercise in perpetual capitulation and catharsis. Most enticing is the band's uncanny ability to understand just how to keep the proverbial ball rolling, never surrendering to drone or monotony.
"It comes down to just knowing whether something is wrong," bassist Jeff Caxide matter-of-factly explains. "We never say, 'We need to have a 10 minute-long song.' If anything, we're constantly trying to fine-tune things and get it down to the essentials. Anything else is self-indulgent and pointless."
The band has enjoyed success at a level that's, frankly, surprising for a band that, as Caxide puts it, "requires a little more from the listener." Patience is often necessary to fully comprehend where the band is going with each segment of their songs. The band, too, must often wait for a song to come into its own. Caxide says any given Isis track can take from one week to one year to fully complete.
Isis has just completed what Caxide candidly describes as "probably our only arena tour ever," in support of Tool. "We met them after we moved to L.A. (from Boston, Mass.) and they kept saying that we should tour together and we were always like, 'yeah, sure' and then eventually they really did ask us to come along with them. It was definitely flattering that a band of that size and level of talent would be interested in us."
The group's popularity has come with the price so often levied upon talented bands of almost constant touring. "It can get a little stressful to the point where some days you just want to be home with your family. But I just have to keep reminding myself that there really is nothing I'd rather do," Caxide says.
Caxide even fondly recalls one of the band's trips to our city. "We came there in 2000 with Napalm Death and that was a pretty rough tour but I distinctly remember getting a good response in Albuquerque." Flattery and talent, it seems, will get you everywhere.