Working on the follow-up to their album Merriweather Post Pavilion — voted best album of 2009 by many music critics — America’s foremost experimental electronic outfit Animal Collective had a lot on their minds. Band member Brian Weitz, aka Geologist, lists their extracurricular (and extraterrestrial) preoccupations.
1 Radio signals in outer space.
For [our new album] Centipede Hz, we tried to imagine what a band on another planet would sound like if they picked up radio frequencies from Earth and heard rock music, then tried to recreate it. Even if no one ever does that, it’s a cool thought that if your music is aired on the radio and heads into space, a piece of you travels to places your physical body will never go.
An inspiration for our song “Mercury Man” was those frustrating automated phone calls, so we called some of the worst companies and let their systems make noise through a Moog synth. We don’t often go conceptual, but this seemed a good opportunity.
3 Edible cactus.
Sonic Ranch Studios [in Tornillo, Texas] has a kitchen there that makes the band’s breakfast and lunch. The huevos rancheros and breakfast burritos were killer. Lunch was usually geared towards the meat eaters and most of us are vegetarians, so we ate sautéed cactus; everyone else raved about the chicken mole, but the cactus was pretty good.
4 Sleep deprivation.
Noah [Lennox, aka Panda Bear] and I both had kids between touring Merriweather Post Pavilion and writing this record. Working them around the daily writing routine did affect our mental state. But I felt able to power through the exhaustion. Fatherhood gave me that extra push.
5 Basketball (and a little hockey).
A lot of NBA was watched recording this album; Josh [Dibb, aka Deakin] and Noah play fantasy basketball. After final mixing we went out to eat, but my favourite hockey team had their first playoff. I felt stupid with an iPhone on the table, but you gotta support the team.
Centipede Hz by Animal Collective (Domino) is out on 3 September