Like Exploding Stones

Album: Watch My Moves (2022)
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Songfacts®:

  • Kurt Vile wrote "Like Exploding Stones" during a spell of self-doubt. Stressed by his failures and riddled by anxiety, he ruminates over the pressure of life as a public performer. Vile sings:

    Pain ricochet in my brain like exploding stones
    Thoughts runnin' round in my cranium like pinball machine-a-mania
    Dreamin' of a time when everything rhymed and I was cool, calm and collected


    Some fans attributed the line about pain ricocheting in his brain like exploding stones to migraines. "I do get migraines, but at the time that I wrote it, it was just stress, weighing heavily down onto my psyche," Vile told the UK newspaper The Sun. "The song is an exorcism of that. By the end I see the light."
  • Feeling totally bummed out, Vile recorded the demo into his Zoom recorder with his acoustic guitar. "I imagined guitars feeding back, and the Moog synthesizer making noise, feedback massaging my cranium," he told Apple Music. "I had all those things in the demo. Yeah, that's the beauty: You can just exorcise demons."
  • Vile recorded the slow-burning, 7-minute song at his newly built home studio OKV Central, in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. His backing band, The Violators, jammed over the tape he'd made that night, and longtime collaborator Rob Schnapf helped produce the track.
  • Vile released "Like Exploding Stones" as the first single from Watch My Moves. Vile, Schnapf and the Violators worked on most of the album's songs at OKV Central.
  • The Sean Dunne-directed video finds Vile calmly wandering Philadelphia's industrial district under a bright blue sky. He falls down a rabbit hole and gets beamed to a psychedelic roller-skating rink.

    Dunne took inspiration for the first half of the clip from Bruce Springsteen's 1993 single "Streets Of Philadelphia." "Then all of a sudden I basically tap into a portal and the raw Philly disco psychedelic roller rink scene," said Vile to NME. "I don't know, what it is, but the Philly thing is just unique, so I tapped into it."
  • Towards the middle of the song, saxophonist James Stewart of the jazz group Sun Ra Arkestra accompanies Vile's guitar feedback. He also appears in the video. Vile enlisted Stewart after being "mesmerized" by him at a pre-pandemic gig. "I knew that 'Like Exploding Stones' needed something in the middle, so I went out on a limb," he told NME. "I couldn't believe it when he showed up. He was into roller skating as well, and he invited some of his friends to roller skate in the video."

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