On the Song Exploder podcast, host Hrishikesh Hirway talks to musicians who take apart their songs and, piece by piece, tell the stories of how they were made. Listen below.

The members of rock band American Football came together in 1997 as students at the University of Illinois, and released only one album and an EP before breaking up three years later. The group’s critically acclaimed debut went on to achieve cult status as one of the most influential records of the ’90s, and was reissued as a deluxe double-LP last year.

In this episode, Mike Kinsella, Steve Holmes, and Steve Lamos of American Football break down the first song they wrote together, “The One with the Tambourine,” from their self-titled EP. They talk about being influenced by the Chicago music scene of the ’90s, and how they combined alternative tunings, unconventional time signatures, and naiveté to craft their sound.


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A Band That’s Bigger Than Ever—14 Years After Breaking Up