Published Apr 07, 2014In 2013, after 10 years of writing, recording and touring with Animal Collective, Dave Portner (a.k.a. Avey Tare) finally realized he was ready for a break.
"Last year was a lot about me trying to figure out how the body and mind work together, and stress and health," he says, referring to the serious case of strep throat that derailed his band's tour in support of 2012's Centipede Hz album. "I think just being around home and casually playing music, playing acoustic guitar and writing new songs helped me a lot."
He did what any sane avant-pop musician would do: he listened to a lot of jazz, watched a few of horror films and decided to record a new album.
The result is Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks, the new side-project from the Animal Collective frontman featuring Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman and ex-Dirty Projectors multi-instrumentalist (and current romantic partner) Angel Deradoorian. Their debut album, Enter the Slasher House, arrives tomorrow (April 8) through Domino.
The idea for the group first came while prepping to tour Portner's previous solo album, 2010's Down There, when he began toying with the idea of live shows being more than just a one-man band.
Inspired by the likes of Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and the greats of '70s psych-jazz, Portner decided to form a power trio, which was spurred on in part by the lack of enthusiasm he was beginning to feel towards the recording and touring process.
"I think with the last Animal Collective record, for me, it was more of a purposeful move, and for all of us in Animal Collective, away from sort of sample-based stuff. Just wanting to play live more, to feel like we were exerting energy," he says. "In terms of just interacting with people, I think a lot of times it can be a lot more rewarding or fun when the actual playing part is there."
Joining forces with Deradoorian and Hyman, the three-piece began honing the sound for Enter the Slasher House at Portner's rehearsal space last April, before setting up shop at Culver City's the Lair Recording Studio in mid-July to lay down tracks.
Looking to capture the same kind of energy as the band's early jam sessions, Portner and the group decided to take a more minimalist approach, adopting a "one take" philosophy and recording with minimal overdubs.
"So much music these days is production-oriented. That's fine, and a lot of it sounds good, but it tends to lose the energy and a lot of the space that used to be a big part of music," Portner says, citing early rock recordings from Bo Diddley and Buddy Holly as prime examples. "You could hear the music interacting with the rooms and where they recorded it and who were the players. I feel like that's not so much important anymore."
According to Portner, the off-the-cuff approach to writing and recording resulted in a "rawer" sound than those found on his last few albums. Tracks like "Little Fang" recall the downtempo R&B of similar psychedelic peer Ariel Pink, while album standouts "Strange Colores" and "A Sender" showcase the group's attempts at a more stylistically cohesive album.
But while Enter the Slasher House sounds a lot more consistent than Portner's previous recordings, he says you shouldn't expect the band to perform a perfect rendition live.
"Even though I wanted the record to have a live energy, I still feel like the way of presenting a live show, to my taste, should be different than presenting a record," he says. "It's just about letting the night influence you."
Find out for yourself by catching Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks on tour this spring and check out the full album below.
Read our full story on Enter the Slasher House here.