Below is an extended Q&A from our recent spotlight on ANIMAL COLLECTIVE, which plays the House of Blues tonight.
You might not know Josh Dibbs, aka Deakin, but you know Animal Collective, who are going to be dropping some neon tribal screeds tonight at the House of Blues (with guest Dan Deacon, no relation). Dibbs is not Panda Bear and he’s not Avey Tare (hey those rhyme), but he’s an integral part of the group. It has even been suggested that Animal Collective’s return to confusing musical incidents with their latest, Centipede Hz, could be at least due in part to the return of Dibbs to the fold, who was absent for their acclaimed Merriweather Post Pavillion. A wonderfully articulate subject, Dibbs was kind enough to pop the top on Animal Collective secrets for the Phoenix.
Centipede Hertz is so technical, and includes such a spectrum of sounds and styles. But I don’t know what the setting is for the record. It’s not a late night record. It’s not a dance record. Not a party record. It’s not a pick me up record. It’s not relaxing. It’s not background music...
There’s a lot of background music around these days and there is a lot that I listen to. Music that is really instant. These days it’s a challenge to make something that you have to pay a lot of attention to. I don’t think it’s strange. I think it’s a straightforward rock record. It contains lots of standard rock and roll sounds that we would have tried to stayed away from in the past, but I can see how it wouldn’t sound that way to someone else. The first moment that I really got the record, I was in my car at the beginning of the road trip, it was two in the afternoon, I was in Georgia, the sun was shining, windows were down, and it just rocked. That’s when it clicked. I think it’s a headphone record. Lay down in your room and turn the lights out and see where it goes.
Animal Collective was one of the first rock bands to embrace both the ancient elements of global rhythms and the technology-riddled elements of underground dance/warehouse music. Do you think that you’ve reached your max with electronics in terms of exploring new frontiers? Is there a certain point where going forward might consist of actually going backwards?
It’s hard for me to imagine music without electronics, period, of course. I don’t think that there is a lot of difference between a drum kit and a sampler. They’re just different things. The same way that I don’t think that drum machines and samplers replaced kick drums and snare drums, I don’t think it goes the other way either. They’re just tools. For us it’s always been fun to use whatever tools are around us.
There are swings. What separates this album from Merriweather in a lot of ways is that Merriweather was a very heavily sampled record — even if a lot of the stuff being sampled was stuff the guys were playing in a room that they would sample and loop, so that it had a certain acoustic sound to it, but was essentially electronic. When we started working on [Centipede Hz], we wanted to move away from that sound in a way. Noah really wanted to play a drum kit. He really wanted to sit down and come up with interesting beats and feel more fluid with them — even if we were doing something really loopy, to feel like there is a little more flexibility. I can’t see fully dismissing any tool.
Does Animal Collective still feel as united in what you are trying to do after 10 years? Or is the push and pull part of what makes it work?
The push and pull is necessary and is a lot of what has made it possible to even be doing what we are doing now. We kind of gave up on some level of being united in focus and interests kind of from the beginning. That was the roots before we were properly Animal Collective. That was where our make up was. There was the four of us and we had different things that interested us. The original idea when this record label started (Paw Tracks) — when we imagined our careers at the age of 19, 20, 21 — we imagined that we would start this record label and run it for years and years and years. And we would put out different records out on that label. There would be this loose connection whether it was one of us putting out a solo record or two of us working on a project.
So I think that’s something that we always thought was really, really sacred; that anything is possible. I think each of us has our stubbornness (laughs) and certain things that work for us and don’t work for us. But I think if we tried to stay united in some ways beyond what feels comfortable for us, I think we would all suffer. I think Dave (Portner, aka Avey Tare) really needs to have his outlets outside of the band and do things that are under his own drive, and he’s always had that I have that to some degree. Noah (Lennox, aka Panda Bear) definitely has that. Brian in his own way.
I think in ten years, yeah, we will have that. I can’t say how that will manifest. But I think that the core of our friendship and our interest is to have this as something that we will continue to do will always be there in some way. But I think the way in which that will manifest, it’s really hard to say. I feel as much a part of the story of Animal Collective helping Dave work on his last solo record than I did working on this record as a band member. I think from my perspective that is still us doing what we are doing.
As of this moment we are all really psyched. We are all reaching the point were we are looking towards the next classic Animal Collective breakdown period.
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE + DAN DEACON :: House of Blues, 15 Lansdowne St, Boston :: March 7 @ 7pm :: All-Ages :: 25 to $35 :: 888.693.2583 or hob.com/boston