The Animal Collective

animalc_2.jpg

photos by Jeff Campbell

The Animal Collective discuss Vashti Bunyan, drugs, Black Dice, George Bush, and their upcoming “love” record
[Don’t miss them live in NY Feb. 24,25]

Following the release of their hugely popular Sung Tongs in 2004, The Animal
Collective have been described in countless ways. Hallucinogenic campfire music.
Cut-and-paste pop. Avante Folk. And don’t forget the obligatory Brian Wilson comparisons.
Animal Collective are a difficult band to categorize. Their sound is constantly
evolving. Their sound is consistently unique.

The foursome met in Baltimore, where they attended high school together and have
been good friends ever since. Like the Elephant Six collective, they record in
various incarnations and sometimes even release solo records under the Animal
Collective umbrella. The communal approach they take to their music seems in harmony
with their humble personalities and their otherworldly aesthetic.

Adding to their mystique, they often wear animal masks on stage, but “only when [they] feel like it” to avoid being reduced to a gimmick.

Most of the members of the Animal Collective have aliases. David Portner goes
by Avey Tare. Noah Lennox is Panda Bear. Brian Weitz is Geologist.
And Conrad Deaken simply goes by Deaken. Though Noah is often credited
as the primary songwriter (his solo release as Panda Bear last year was warmly
received by critics) they insist the Collective has no leader. They have their
own label, Paw Tracks, though their most recent releases have been with Fatcat.

We met with Avey Tare (above left) and Geologist (above right) at Union Square on an unseasonably warm day in early February. Avey lives
in Brooklyn and went to NYU. Geologist was visiting from D.C. He received his
undergrad at Columbia.

Avey Tare was wearing a shark tooth necklace. He had mysterious scratches on
his hand which had to be the work of a cat or perhaps some more mysterious
creature conjured from the netherworlds of their music. They were friendly and articulate, if somewhat aloof, and their comfort with one another made it obvious that they were old and dear friends.

Don’t miss their shows this week:

February 24th – SOLD OUT
Storsveit Nix Noltes
Animal Collective
@ THE LLANO ESTACADO
NE Corner of Metropolitan Ave and River St. (in Williamsburg, Brooklyn) 8pm

February 25th
Jah Division
Storsveit Nix Noltes
Animal Collective
Bowery Ballroom (Manhattan) 8pm

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People always describe your sound as being psychedelic. Are drugs a part of your
music?

AVEY TARE: We record sober, mostly. It’s important for us to get things to
sound exactly the way we want and recording comes down to really concentrating
on what we’re doing.
GEOLOGIST: It’s work.

How long has the band been playing together as The
Animal Collective
?

AVEY TARE: Well, as the Animal Collective we’ve been playing for about
three or four years. We used to just call ourselves by our individual aliases, but as we began to play together more on the records it became easier to just go by The Animal Collective.

How did you come up with all of your aliases?

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