By Cam LindsayThanks to the wonders of technology (read: wiretaps that cut out without warning), only some of this conversation with Bradford Cox was salvaged, but for your reading pleasure, here is the transcript that survived the murderous phone connection.
I read that "Small Horror” was meant to be the blemish on the record. What attracts you to ensuring your music is flawless? It’s just my personal taste. I’m not criticising other artists, but I get really sick of albums that are just so calculated. To me, calculation breathes mediocrity, and a lot of people would likely say, "You’re a dumbass, why don’t you just try harder?” I mean, if I wanted to I could make a fucking New Pornographers record – I don’t even really know what they sound like – but if I wanted to, I could imitate all of these different styles. I’m not a really creative guitar player, but I’m a pretty good imitator. For instance, I could learn all of these styles, but it’s not me.
When I write my own songs they’re usually awkward and flawed. A lot of people try to get past that and develop their sound, but to me it just ends up making them sound the same. When you say you’re trying to make an album sound perfect, what you mean by perfect is that you’re judging it by someone else’s output. Like this album isn’t gonna be perfect unless I try to make it sound like a Led Zeppelin record, or something more modern like a Pavement record. There are certain albums that I consider to be perfect, but it’s not like I just sit there and try to imitate them.
Your blog is quite impressive, considering you give away new music almost every day… Yeah. And I put up a song the other day that everyone hated. I don’t really care if everyone hates it, but if I like it I put it up and that’s that. But it’s free music, y’know, and they’re complaining. Why does everything have to be perfect? If I like it I put it up and that’s that. I knew people weren’t gonna like it because it isn’t catchy… Everybody wants everything to be so fucking and so easy, like Vampire Weekend and that stuff, which I don’t have a problem with, I’m not criticising them. I just think it makes it more difficult for people to think about music in weirder terms. People look at what’s successful, and what’s successful is what’s easy on the ears, things that aren’t challenging. Nobody wants to listen to something that sounds awkward and makes you cringe because it’s real personal or idiosyncratic. People just want to hear things that sounds familiar already to them.
It’s funny because your music is very melodic, but also very unsettling at times. I make really accessible pop stuff, but at the same time I have no problem making something creepy or just odd.
So what separates Atlas Sound from Deerhunter? Do you write differently for both? I just keep the real rockin’ songs for Deerhunter. I like Deerhunter to be more of a band. People ask me that question all of the time and I didn’t really have an answer but I’ve finally figured that out.
And you’re working on a new Deerhunter album called Microcastle? We’ve been writing our new record for the past few days… Well, the songs are already written, we’re just teaching them to each other now. And we’re not using any effects so far. We actually don’t use any of that stuff anymore, believe it or not. We might use some on the record but in the rehearsals we’ve just been plugging the guitars straight into the amps.
How would you say it sounds? [It sounds] better. I don’t really like using effects that much. I like them only because sometimes you need them to get a certain desired feeling or sound, but I don’t like for a song to depend on a metal box working and having fresh batteries in it. I guess I just get tired of depending on technology. The root of the song should be there already and I think you should be able to play these songs whether you have these things or not.
When can we expect it? It’s gonna be out on Halloween.