“Animal Collective are four friends who like to get together to play music and watch movies and play football (a.k.a. soccer).” (Paw Tracks). A via mail interview with Brian Weitz (a.k.a. Geologist) about the songwriting process, Paw Tracks, the upcoming, collectivism and touring.
SR: You all live in New York now. How much of an effect does the city on your music/ sound have?
GEO: That’s actually not true. Dave and Josh (Avey and Deakin) live in new York. I (Geologist) live in DC and Noah (Panda) lives in Lisbon, Portugal. We haven’t all lived in New York together since 2001. But back then you can hear an influence on the music. Danse Manatee and Hollinndagain, and even Sung Tongs are influenced by life in the city. Sometimes the influence is lyrical, like on Sung Tongs, and sometimes its on the sound, like with Danse Manatee.
SR: Does a lot of the material develop out of jams or impros, because the songs still have this random character, even if it follows a straight linear composition. How`s the songwriting routine at Animal Collective?
GEO: Sometimes songs arise out of jams and improvised sessions – more in the past than now because we don’t live near each other and have less time to get together and improvise. Usually the process begins with Dave or Noah writing a melody and bringing it to the rest of the band. We jam on it for a while and try and find other parts and sounds that will work with the melody and make it something special. Other times it starts with a sound or a picture in our minds and we try and create music that fits.
SR: What inspires your music?
GEO: Usually its what is going on in our lives at the moment. It’s not purely musical. It can be influenced by our relationships, our travels, films we see, whatever…We try and throw whatever we can in there as long as its appropriate and fits the song. We don’t just throw a bunch of random stuff in the music; everything has to be justified from some source of personal inspiration.
SR: Could you name some of your musical inspirations?
GEO: I have over 1,000 records in my collection so it’s hard to do a comprehensive list. But just to name some big ones – Pavement, Silver Jews, Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd, CAN, Grateful Dead, Sun City Girls, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, The Police, Lee Perry, Climax Golden Twins, horror movie soundtracks, Aphex Twin, Dettinger, Daft Punk, Black Dice, Gang Gang Dance, etc.
SR: How does Paw Tracks come about? Was it conceived as a kind of venue just to release your own music and music of your friends or do you have bigger plans/ ideas by now?
GEO: We used to run our own label called Animal and intended to self release all our records. But after doing two of them we realized we didn’t like running a label and none of us wanted to do it. Our friend Todd Hyman, who also runs Carpark and Acute offered to resurrect the Animal label and manage it so we created Paw Tracks. The main purpose is to have a label where we can do any side and solo projects and have complete control, but we also use it to bring music by our friends to larger audiences.
SR: How do you choose the bands for your label?
GEO: It’s tough, but we look for music that is very personal and unique to the people creating it…like they do what they do because they have no other choice; it’s just inside them and they wouldn’t want to do anything different.
SR: What duties do you have at Paw Tracks?
GEO: Just listening to demos and picking the projects. Todd is the one who sweats over the details.
SR: How important is the concept (videos, artwork, etc.) of Animal Collective to you?
GEO: Very important. We see our aesthetic as going beyond music and everything is part of AC’s art. We want everything we give to the public to come directly from us.
SR: What`s on the bill for 2007?
GEO: In 3 days we are going to Tucson, AZ to record a new album for Domino Records. We’re gonna do a short tour of the US in May, and possibly some summer shows in Europe. Beyond that we’re not sure. Panda will be putting our his 3rd solo record „Person Pitch“ in March, and in April, Avey Tare is going to release an album of songs he did with Kria Brekkan.
SR: Any chances to see Animal Collective playing Germany later this year?
GEO: Don’t know…
SR: What was your favourite music on the tour bus in 2006?
GEO: With the introduction of ipods to the van we listen to less and less complete albums so it’s hard to pick. I liked driving around to J Dilla’s Donuts, and one night after a show Dave and I got really drunk and rocked the Watery Domestic EP by Pavement and had fun playing the air drums.
SR: Last words?
GEO: Happy New Year, and thanks for talking to us.