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Animal Collective Want To Work With Aphex...
Ben Hewitt , January 4th, 2010 08:03

But are too shy to ask... Plus! New material news

As the last decade gasped its way into the void where time ends, we sat down for a phone conversation with Animal Collective's Panda Bear. As well as discussions about the poll-conquering behemoth that was Merriweather Post Pavillion, Mr Bear discussed the group's plans for new material, his own solo projects, and a wishlist of dream colloborators...

Hullo Panda Bear. So have you spoken to the rest of the band about working on new material yet?

PB: No, I think we’re gonna go to Australia and New Zealand in two weeks and we’ll start talking about stuff then. It will be the very, very beginning of the process.

But you're looking to start work on it this year?

PB: I’m sure the work will begin on it in some form in 2010.

**And can we expect it to be out pretty quickly, considering working at pace worked well on Merriweather...?

PB: Well, we've spoken about making music all living in the same city again. I know it sounds like a crazy idea, but it’s a long time since we’ve done it, so we’re all pretty excited about that. Logistically it’s going to be really difficult but I’m still hoping we can pull that off.

Has the band dynamic shifted because you all live and work in different places?

PB: Not as much as you might think. Our process pre-living apart was similar. We’d all do work on our own individually. That side of it is way more extreme than it was, but it’s still similar in model. Dave and I will write songs, and send it to everybody like ‘I was thinking about this’, and then Brian will make sounds, and we’ll put it all together when we all get in the same room.

How about the long-mooted Animal Collective visual record. Any news on when that may be finished?

PB: Yeah, we’ve finished it actually. That should be coming out some time next year.

That's fantastic news. What's the background to the project?

PB: Our friend Danny Perez did a video for us for ‘Who Can Win A Rabbit?’ a while back, and does live visuals for our friend’s band Black Dice, and we’d been talking about a visual record where there is some sort of harmonious relationship between the images and the music. Not really a narrative story - but if you were to listen to an album and close your eyes you would see these images. It was something that got worked on here and now for a long time, but we finished it this past year.

So it will be all new songs?

PB Yeah, it’s all new music.

When can we expect that to be released?

PB: I don’t know at this point.

How about a name?

PB: I think we’ve decided upon a name but I can’t reveal that information. I know that soiunde really douchey, but I don’t want to be the one to spill the beans and have everyone come down on me.

You said earlier you were going to start on some solo material. How's that going so far?

PB: Yeah, I’m just going to keep working on it. I wouldn’t say I’m getting started. I’m just past getting started.

I guess that due to the creative process of Animal Collective, working on your own isn't anything new..

PB: Yeah, it’s something I’ve always kinda done, it’s not unfamiliar territory. Yeah, it’s going good.

In previous interviews, the band have said they wanted to collaborate with Madlib and RZA. Do you have any collaborations in the pipeline?

PB: Well, usually I’m sort of uncomfortable working with someone I don’t already know personally already. It seems like a situation I wouldn’t do well in. I’ve done a song with Bradford Cox. That was super fun. We were never in the same room.

What would your dream collaboration be?

PB: I would be psyched to make some songs with Zomby, or Burial, or Aphex Twin. Someone like that.

That would be really good. You should look into it!

PB: No, I don’t think so man. I’m too shy of a person to hook that up...

As you said earlier, Merriweather Post Pavilion seems to have been really well received. Did you anticipate that success?

PB: No, over the years there’s been such varied reactions to what I was expecting I’ve kind of given up on trying to predict what people are going to think. I pretty much assume people are going to hate everything we do, so it’s always a surprise if someone likes it. This one, I think all of us felt pretty good about it. I think that’s because we did it pretty quickly compared to previous ones. The songs felt a lot fresher when we went into the studio. We really just banged it out. The songs had more life when the record was released. At this point though, they feel like they’re definitely about to die.

It seems a bit more accessible, and slightly more poppier, than some of your previous stuff. Was that intentional?

PB: It’s more just the way it came out. I think it’s more familiar to a larger group of music listeners. I think it has touchstones that are easier and quicker, because it’s a more familiar type of sound. And the mix of it is less abrasive, so it’s an easier gateway into the music. There aren’t as much harsh noises and oddness. I think there’s still strangeness.

I think you’ll always be a bit strange, though.

PB: Yeah, I think our personalities are still there. The presentation just feels a lot more amiable.

A lot of people have referred to it as your 'breakthrough album', which seems kind of strange considering it's your eighth record...

PB: Yeah. For me to think of it that way is pretty weird. Like you said, we’ve been doing it for a while. I feel like breakthrough isn’t the word, but there’s a bunch of albums where people have said 'this is their pop record' or 'this is the record that’s going to bring them to the mainstream', and it’s never really happened. At this point you just shrug your shoulders and move on.

Have you ever done interviews where people think it's your first record?

PB: Yeah, all the time. It seems reasonable, I guess, if you’re not on someone’s radar.

So you've just released the Fall Be Kind EP. Is that part of this winding down cycle?

PB: Yeah, we’ve done a bunch of EPs that have closed the album - songs that didn’t make the record but we recorded at the same time.

So they're part of the Merriweather... era, as opposed to a pointer to future material?

PB: I see them as midway points between the old and the new. I think the new is going to be chronologically speaking so far ahead that it will probably be tough to see the link between the new and the EP, but I’m sure it will be there in some form.