Deerhunter – Interview with Lockett Pundt (full transcript)

May 23, 2009

deerh_micro_pr2_300d_020908

I feel like I’ve said enough about Deerhunter for now, but if anyone’s burning to read more, the piece I wrote after interviewing Lockett for City Life is here….

The full transcript of our exchange follows.

OLLIE: How does the Deerhunter songwriting process work, as a rule?  I heard Bradford giving you credit for writing ‘Agoraphobia’, for example.  Is there a main songwriter, or do ideas come from all corners, then get worked up collaboratively?

LOCKETT: The songwriting process varies from song to song. Some are very collaborative and ideas are worked out in a studio, or discussed in advance. Others might be a demo that Brad, Josh, or I will introduce and the song will remain exactly as is, or it could be completely changed into a collaborative effort. It all depends on what the song calls for. There isn’t a consistent process really.

OW: Are you guys able to make a living through music now, or do you have to work day jobs?

LP: Yea, we do OK now. Some time within the last year and a half it was possible to make a living doing what we do. I think I am the only one who still works a day job though. Just a few hours a week really. Otherwise I get lazy.

OW: What can we expect from the Lotus Plaza album?

LP: Well, most of the stuff I did for that album was recorded shortly after Cryptograms came out, so it follows a bit in that vein. It’s ten songs, a few of which were given away on the blog. I recorded myself in my room and played all the instruments on it. Brad plays another drum track on it in a song called ‘Different Mirrors’. It comes out officially on March 23rd.

Lotus Plaza

Lotus Plaza

OW: I’m still pissed off that I missed your last Manchester gig, which was at Café Saki, I believe.  How was that tour?  Looking at the venues for the upcoming British tour, it looks as though you’ve moved up a notch.

LP: That was our first tour of England, really. We had played shows there before but it was the first time we had gone to more than just the few cities we had been to previously. Things went really well on that tour. We did a TV show there in Manchester with Liars, hosted by a guy named Frank Sidebottom. Was pretty fun. I had no idea what to expect going into that. He recreated the likeness of the Tiananmen Square protest on a miniature soccer field. with plastic soldiers and tanks while interviewing the bands.

OW: I understand that you and Bradford have been friends since you were kids.  What was the situation with you joining the band?  At what point did you get involved – were Kranky already on the scene at that time?

LP: I had been away at college for a few years and when I returned back home, Brad asked me to join. This was probably a year or so before Cryptograms came out. They had toured before i joined the band, but things were still at a much different level. Kranky expressed some interest and came to one of our shows in St. Louis, where we played this small arts space. They were into our show and we signed with them.

OW: I haven’t heard too much Lotus Plaza, but the majority of Deerhunter / Atlas Sound material prior to Microcastle leans towards the ambient and experimental – yet there’s never a total junking of melody.  Is Microcastle an indication that we can expect future Deerhunter releases to continue in the pop vein, whilst you guys work out your more esoteric urges through the side projects?  Or will you keep pursuing the ‘twin track’ approach – i.e. packaging the lo-fi with the hi-fi (Microcastle / Weird Era Continued)

LP: Microcastle is just something different, but not necessarily an indication of what’s to come. We still use a lot of the more ambient stuff during our live sets, but didn’t want to make another Cryptograms on record. It’s more fun to kind of expand your horizons musically from record to record.

Microcastle

Microcastle

LP: The Microcastle/Weird Era combination was sort of impulsive; since the album had already leaked, and gotten out so early before the release, we wanted to make it so that the people who still wanted to buy it would get a surprise along with it. We recorded most of the songs on Weird Era ourselves, with a few in the studio. We kind of wanted it to have an old and haunted vibe in regards to the production of the songs. Probably not something that we would do again.

OW: One of my musical obsessions is this idea of ‘formality’, which I can’t really define without relating it to specific songs.  I think ‘Agoraphobia’ is a good example of a ‘formal’ song… Does that make any sense, in relation to how you guys write?  I suppose I mean that I consider it to have been intelligently structured and played with discipline – specifically conceived as a pop song and performed as such, without ego.

LP: Yea, that makes sense. It is a pretty straightforward song. It’s fun to try and deliberately write a song like that. It’s also difficult at times. Most of the writing I do, as well as Brad, is a more stream of consciousness sort. Then you kind of go back and piece it together into something better or maybe not. Sometimes it works how it is.

When writing a song and trying to make it “formal” from the beginning, it can become a lot harder to get through. There are a lot more filters going through my head before I even start a song or at any stage during it, instead of just picking up an instrument and starting something to make sense of afterwards.

Cryptograms-by-Deerhunter_A4R9rCQuB_Ex_full

Cryptograms


OW: I understand that Cryptograms was quite difficult to put together, being split over different sessions and remixed. Was it easier to make Microcastle and how closely involved with the mixing process was the band?

LP: Microcastle was a lot easier from the beginning. There wasn’t as much grey area or indecision going into the making of it. We had more direction and experience with the songs before we went into the studio. We were all in a different state of mind during Cryptograms and I think  Microcastle sort of caught us at a better and more prepared time. We also had a lot more time in the studio to make it happen than we had with any previous album.

The mixing was done with everyone sitting in a room with Nicolas, the engineer, playing and tweaking the song. He would do his thing and we would respond or we would tell him how we wanted it to sound. Mixing on pretty much everything we have recorded thus far has been a collaborative effort.

OW: Just a personal one, this – ‘Dot Gain’ (from Weird Era Continued).  That chorus guitar break is euphoric, absolutely brilliant.  Were you not tempted to do a hi-fi ‘proper pop’ production on the song?

LP: No, not at all. I actually like it the way it is. I think it would lose the energy it has if it were to be recorded better. I guess I’m used to how it sounds as it is. I couldn’t really imagine it taking on a more hi-fi form. Some things just sound better kind of dirty.

OW: As I might be taking this piece to the Manchester Evening News, I’ll ask a Manchester-related question.  Are there any Manchester groups that influenced you guys? I heard Bradford reference Martin Hannett, in relation to the production style of Cryptograms – and The Fall, with relation to the first album.

LP: Yea, I think we all had a few of those bands in mind like The Fall, Magazine and New Order. They definitely kind of fell in the mental climate we occupied during the writing and recording of Cryptograms. Definitely some of the bands that we can all agree on.

OW: I’m sure the ‘major labels’ must be sniffing around you guys.   Would you consider signing to one of them, if offered?

LP: Kranky rules.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: