Animal Collective

Lewis Townsend 15/04/2009

You don't hear bands like Animal Collective every day. Sure, they've been pinned down with genres: neo-psychedelica, freak folk, noise pop, but the only thing for sure - it's not easy music to listen to, which of course isn't strictly a bad thing. With the aliases Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist the band are well and truly immersed into their work. Animal Collective is an experience, both live and in the studio, with performances alive with mind-melting sonic experimentation. Nevertheless, they continue to release albums to increasing critical acclaim. Their newest, Merriweather Post Pavilion has been pre-emptively hailed as album of the decade by several critics. I caught up with one of the Animal Collective's Avey Tare, co-founder and multi-instrumentalist backstage in Nottingham, he describes the Animal Collective sound as psychedelic but assuredly human. Owing to the absence of fellow guitarist Deakin, the album is less guitar driven. Merriweather has more electricity and synth flowing through it than ever, with subtle influences. It's also a bit more stripped down. The extremely friendly Mr Tare also tells us about a film he's working on with the band and Danny Perez. Being most of the way through their European tour at the time, Avey and the band have enjoyed their reception.

Here's my full question and answer session with Animal Collective's Avey Tare:

For those who unfortunately don't know you, could you introduce yourself?

I'm Avery Tare, in the band Animal Collective. I sing, play some drums, guitar and electronics.

Looking forward to tonight's sonic obliteration of Nottingham?

Should be awesome [laughs] it's been fun playing this tour, the shows have been really cool.

Yeah? Where else have you been?

Last night we were in Bristol, that was a fun show. And before that we kinda more mainland Europe, like we did some shows in France, Amsterdam, Brussels, a bunch in Germany, Italy and umm, Scandinavia.

Cool, and you're getting well received?

Yeah, yeah the shows have all been super fun and the crowds have all been active.

Naturally, we'll have to go over the new album Merriweather Post Pavilion. Is there a specific concept you've got running through it, specifically influenced or inspired by anything?

Hmm. I guess we talked a lot about kind of- shallow, lagoon kind of waters you know. Or any kind of like tropical ocean kind of like a lot of colours under the water and that kind of thing, that was talked about a lot. But different patterns of weather too we talked about the songs representing like light rainy days or sandstorms or stuff like that so that was all talked about.

It may seem quite trivial, but the song lengths as well - shorter and more consistent. Was this deliberate, pre-meditated move or did it just happen?

Yeah usually song lengths of us kind of happen its not anything that's really planned out. Noah and I just kind of write the songs that feel comfortable to us and then they kind of go that way there. I think there were some songs we wanted to keep alive, jammier feeling to them. “Guys Eyes” and “Brother Sport” like had this sort of jammy feeling left so we wanted to make sure those parts were still in tact. But I guess yeah we did kind of made the decision that nothing would go on too long because I think we liked all the songs too and we're not really into long records.

Oh, you're not?

Not particularly like definitely not over an hour. I think we were all surprised that the record ended up as long as it did cause I think going in we were like 'okay it'll be like a forty five minute record maybe'. So yeah it felt really good it didn't feel too long for us.

Could you describe the music making process - creative input, leader etc.

No, I mean we try and get it so that everyone's personality and input is really important you know. Noah and I obviously start with writing skeletal melodies you know and then some kind of sound or instrument that usually stays in tact you know and then we all get together for like-- for this record we started with a period of two weeks and we got together and put together nine of the songs in two weeks, just kind of like the live foundations what everybody plays and we go on tour with them for a while. And then we wrote a few more throughout the writing process I guess.

Fellow guitar player Deakin was absent from your newest record, did this have a big effect on your process or the album in general?

Yeah I mean Josh has a really intensive personality, a good personality and it's definitely shined on a lot of our records 'Feels', 'Strawberry Jam' you know cause he's very present on these records especially as a guitar player. So yeah him not being here really pushed us to find a new way I think really. I mean Noah and Brian and I have recorded a record before, 'Dance Manatee' just us three but you know. It just pushed us to find a new way-mostly to do stuff without guitar since Josh is pretty much a really strong guitar player.

Is he coming back to work with you guys?

Yeah we've been working in this film in New York and he's been working on that with us.

Yeah-- how's the film coming on?

Good good we just finished tracking most of the music for it right before we went on tour. Its taken a really long time just kind of because it's a new experience for us you know. And really trying to get the visuals and music to overlap and become one homogenous thing it's been quite a challenge but it's going really good.

I read that you were saying it was one of the most Experimental things you've done?

That we've done in a while. I don't think any of us are like 'it's so experimental!' you know. It's just to our taste and a certain style of stuff that we like you know. There's some ambient moments and just some--on our parts like sound moments, sonic and then there's other moments that're a lot more 'songy'.

So you're gonna be releasing the soundtrack?

No, I don't think so. I mean I'm sure it'll get out there [laughs] but I think we want them really to be seen as this one thing together.

You consistently make challenging and experimental music to teams of critical acclaim. All the critics love you. Does this surprise you?

Yeah, I mean it's always a surprise with each record we've kind of grown. But I think for us it just seems pretty natural. I think if it had happened really fast and we'd have got blown up or something it would have been a little uncomfortable I think. The pace has allowed us to just really learn that we can just keep messing around with things and experimenting with stuff and keep people with us.

Must be good to be able to be yourself, not have to change yourself…

Yeah yeah, totally.

What's exciting you music or otherwise…?

Music I like a lot of dub music King Tubby, Lee Perry. I like a lot of you know just kind of older classic stuff like older Psychedelic music still. Got into a lot of South American stuff got into a lot of like cumbia music and just kind of like guitar bands from round there.

Have any plans for the summer? Playing any festivals?

We're talking it we'll be doing some. Definitely doing Glastonbury but not sure about other festivals right now.

The obligatory silly questions, as requested by fans. Do you wear socks in bed?

No! [laughs]

Would you rather die hated or die forgotten?

Hmm. Probably.. Well. Forgotten by everyone? Oof. That's a good question [laughs]. Maybe hated.

Finally, in about five words could you describe your sound?

I would say Electronic, Rock, Psychedelic, Soulful, Human.


Merriweather Post Pavilion came out on Janurary 6th 2009.

Animal Collective recently announced the following UK dates:

ATP Presents Animal Collective at O2 Academy Brixton
Date: Thursday 20th August 2009

Door Time: 7pm - 11pm

Ticket Price: 18 adv

Tickets available now from usual outlets

The Green Man Festival 2009
21st August headline

Tickets available now