On their visceral and seething return
Bugging The Bandwidths - Animal Collective

We’re getting psychedelic in our lunch-hour with Animal Collective. Walking around the Barbican with Avey Tare, Geologist, Panda Bear and Deakin, it’s good to see all four members of this porous collective back together again. Gone is the intercontinental file swapping and remote idea generation; back is the voodoo of live jamming and the addictive chemistry of creation within four walls and numerous dimensions.

But prepare your antenna. The Animal Collective have flipped their volatile script once more.

Many readers will be more than aware of their ‘Merriweather Post Pavillion’ album, a warm, aqueous, pulsing and melodic crossover communiqué. It was their eighth studio LP and for many, including Clash Magazine, deemed the best album of 2009.

‘Centipede Hz’ however is viciously earthy. And deliberately so, as Panda Bear takes up full residency on modified drums, and Deakin strides out of hiatus as the band stretch their rhythmic legs as a quartet in more warped harmony.

In celebration of their psychedelic verve Clash sat down and shot some lysergic breeze. Here we heard Panda Bear talk not in A-sharps and octaves, but instead why a song needs to be MORE like the trunk of a tree.

From here our antenna were up and we needed to know who was the best at tripping and why you should dive deep into such experimentation. We also found out their secret to the longevity that has allowed ten LPs to develop from their primordial midst - and finally, whether Panda Bear and Tupac did ever shoot some basketball hoops together...

What’s the most significant development in the world of Animal Collective as far as ‘Centipede Hz’?
Panda Bear: The biggest one is just that it sounds a whole lot different than the last album. I feel like that’s made pretty clear pretty soon in the listening experience.
Avey Tare: But also the fact that there’s four of us playing on the record; informationally it’s important because it’s a different band of sorts, a different sound, from a different band line-up.

How hard was it to pick up the pieces after the huge success and acclaim of ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’?
Deakin: Not really that difficult in that every album so far has been our biggest album, from album to album, so it just felt like business as usual for the most part. It didn’t seem like there was a lot of contemplation about what ‘Merriweather’ was and what we had to do from that. It just ended, and then we did some other stuff and then we moved into a new era. It felt pretty natural.

What’s the best rumour you’ve ever heard about your band?
Geologist: That Panda Bear used to play basketball with Tupac!
Panda Bear: That I was buddies with him when I was young. He grew up in Baltimore.
Geologist: I think my sister actually went to high school around the same time at the School for the Arts in Baltimore that he did.
Panda Bear: Unfortunately for me it’s not true, and fortunately for Tupac.

It’s good to hear Deakin back. But it’s very interesting to note how few established bands can be so relaxed about having such flexible boundaries of who is in the band. It’s rare to have such malleable or porous roles.
Avey Tare: For better or for worse it’s always been accepted for us no matter what level of success we’ve had that we’re as comfortable as a two-piece as we are as being four. I feel it’s just being confident that we’re doing the right thing and it’s working the best way possible. I feel if there was more times when it was harder and a bit of a struggle we wouldn’t keep on doing it.

What’s the secret behind the longevity of Animal Collective?
Deakin: I think some of it’s just been luck, like sticking to our guns in situations where generally a lot of other forces in the world would have suggested doing things otherwise.
Geologist: Earlier in an interview one magazine just wanted to go album by album and have us talk about each of our ten full-lengths, retelling the story. A lot of it was like, ‘Man, that sounds terrible!’ That experience of that tour or getting tired of each other and then for unexplained reasons, we never really had a reason, we decided to get back together and start up again. I was listening to the whole thing unfold and I guess we just like playing together. It’s really as simple as that because there were so many times when it was like, ‘That should have been the end right there!’ But a few months went by and we wanted to play together again.

For all the new fans of the band reading this, can you all go round the table and reveal what you think the band member next to you is best at in the band?
Panda Bear: Avey Tare is best at song writing and singing.
Avey Tare: And Panda Bear drumming and song writing.
Deakin: Geologist really accentuates the environments of songs and he figures out what the core sonic environment is in the song and really brings it out.
Geologist: [In superhero voice] I’m The Accentuator!
Panda Bear: He’s the bass man for this record too.
Deakin: He’s the Geddy Lee of this record. Minus the voice.
Geologist: Deakin’s guitar playing. I think he’s one of the best musicians in the band and adds a layer of melody that you never knew would be in the song.

Words: Matthew Bennett
Digital Artwork: Niall Trask
Creative Direction: Rob Meyers

‘Centipede HZ’ is released by Domino on 3rd September.

Watch an exclusive film by the digital artist responsible for this artwork, filmed with the band on the Clash shoot.

The full version of this interview appears in the September 2012 issue of Clash Magazine. Find out more about the issue.

Buy the issue via our Facebook store HERE.

Subscribe to Clash magazine HERE.


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