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“A different beast altogether” – Avey Tare talks Slasher Flicks

“A different beast altogether” – Avey Tare talks Slasher Flicks

17 April 2014, 12:00

Reinvention is perhaps the most troubling task for any performer. Newness often being the quickest way to get an audience interested, it can be hugely important that an artist avoids treading water throughout their career. It is by no means an easy task. For some it can be their undoing (anyone remember when Billy Idol went synthpop?) but it’s something the greats have always nailed: The Beatles laid the template, risking unprecedented fame and fortune to change the world; how Bowie became Ziggy became the Thin White Duke became legend; Dylan alienated his own crowds to find even larger successes lay in store.

It’s a well established career path, but it takes a special artist to follow it. As a member of Animal Collective, Avey Tare (real name Dave Portner) has seen his fair share of reinvention. Throughout his career each album has seen him cast off the robes of the previous and plunge head first into new sounds and experiences. Acoustics were swapped for electrics, electrics swapped for synths. Throughout, however, they have never stopped pushing the boundaries of whatever shell they choose to inhabit. Perhaps it is in a restless nature to not only welcome change, but seek it out. Certainly throughout their respective solo projects Avey Tare and Panda Bear have shown a breadth to their creativity that is perhaps almost too much for one band to channel. They need these exterior outlets.

Portner in particular has continued to explore a broad palette of influences. The first of these albums outside of Animal Collective was with then wife, Kria Brekkan. Pullhair Rubeye was an experiment of gauzy acoustic songs, reversed. A peculiar piece that proved challenging, uncompromising and, at times, exhilarating. After the two separated, Portner began channelling his emotional turmoil into his first entirely solo album, 2010′s Down There. Darker than almost everything he had released previously, Down There tapped into an anxiety and depression rarely alluded to in any of his earlier albums. It also proved the genesis for his next. “When I had thought about touring that record I couldn’t figure it out. Because that record was so me, and stuff that was trapped in my head and I did it in a really isolated environment. I felt like I needed something new.”

With that in mind 2014 finds Portner collaborating on an entirely new project. With ex-Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman and ex-Dirty Projector Angel Deradoorian, Welcome To The Slasher House is yet another departure in style for Porter. Pieces of jazz, punk and funk hang stitched onto the backbone of Avey’s distinctively idiosyncratic songwriting, and a profligacy of ideas spew from every orifice. As the album stumbles along it becomes increasingly apparent this is no ordinary beast. “I thought it would be really cool to play some songs as a band, something different. Once I started collecting new songs last year I was just thinking about how to make a record different from the last one or anything I’ve done. It seemed cool to do it as a trio. I became really familiar with Jeremy and Angel’s style of playing so they seemed like the two people to go to. I made demos and asked them if they were down. We started playing last April and it started being really fun and really easy. It’s come together really fast.

Indeed, the pace at which the album came together could be seen as somewhat of a liberation from the lengthy gestation periods of Animal Collective. From forming in April to perform at Deerhunter’s ATP Festival, the songs have had little time to stew and, perhaps most importantly, little time to lose their energy.

“I feel like on one hand Slasher Flicks is inspired by the idea of three people coming together and being spontaneous and fast. I just really liked the idea of getting a trio together. A lot of my favourite jazz records are just three people and live recording. The band coming together and playing. Every record I’ve been doing is trying to be something different. A different beast altogether. Down There was from a particularly dark place for me. I feel like Slasher Flicks almost comes from a dark place but I didn’t want to dwell on an unfortunate situation. I was sick a lot of last year. A lot of it came from being home a lot and writing these songs on acoustic guitar. I wanted to be more positive about getting out of the place I was in, rather than presenting all this darkness. Slasher Flicks is more confrontation. It’s like moving out of it. Down There is like being stuck in this place.”

Portner’s obsession with the earlier years of horror films have also had a direct bearing on the albums aesthetic. “Like a haunted house,” is how he chooses to describe it. All papier mâché prosthetics and ketchup blood, the album has a endearingly handmade quality to it. “I just wanted to get back to my roots. What I really liked and why I started getting into music for was to work on all these different projects and do things at a quick rate. I want records to be as good as they can be but sometimes you can just work on things for way long. Sometimes its about that initial energy and allowing it to show.”

Reinvention clearly holds no trepidation for Portner – if anything he seems to relish it. His new album stands as testament to that. “I wanted it to be a little quicker and a whole lot more unpredictable”. Unpredictability is quickly becoming his forte.

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks play Field Day 7-8 June in London’s Victoria Park. Tickets for the weekend are available here.

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