Backbeat: Deerhunter Hold Court at New York's Ace Hotel

Deerhunter lounging at New York City's Ace Hotel. L-R- Lockett Pundt, Frankie Broyles, Josh Mckay, Moses Archuleta, and Bradford Cox (Photo: Harley Brown)

 

In advance of their forthcoming album Monomania, the Atlanta-based avant-rock five-piece Deerhunter held an informal press conference on Wednesday night at the Ace Hotel. Meant to be an hour long, the intimate session went on for two. Tall, thin frame sprawled on a long green couch, frontman Bradford Cox joked that he was auditioning the music journalists sitting around him, including Pitchfork's Associate Editor Larry Fitzmaurice and Complex Media's Caitlin White and Jacob Moore, freelancer Sam Hockley-Smith and Rachel Cole from Stereogum's T. Cole Rachel as his de facto therapists.

In the background, Motormouth Media's Judy Silverman and David Marek sat on the cavernous suite's bed, monitoring everything and occasionally taking iPhone pictures of the meeting or looking up conversational questions online (i.e. whether one of the producers for "Law and Order: SVU," which Cox watches, is really named Speed Weed). Here too was 4AD's Claire Taylor

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The rest of the band -- guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Lockett Pundt, who also performs as Lotus Plaza, drummer Moses Archuleta, new bassist Josh Mckay (who took the place of former bassist Josh Fauver), and Frankie Broyles, who drums in Lotus Plaza -- sat in various degrees of uprightness on the couch behind him, occasionally answering questions but nearly falling asleep toward the end of the interview. Coming down from a performance on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" the night before and giving interviews since 2 p.m., it's no wonder they could barely keep their eyes open.

Cox seemed reticent at the interview's slow start, calling "Next question" after a writer asked him about the origin of the album's title. After a while, however, he couldn't stop talking, holding court on everything from Cajun music in the 1920s ("very strange, very demonic") to marriage ("you get married and your Facebook page gets deleted) to kissing the ground outside the John Varvatos store on Bowery in deference to the now-defunct CBGB.

But he and his band mates answered questions about the album itself. According to Archuleta, they decided to record Monomania at producer Nicolas Vernhes' renowned Rare Book Room Studios (Marnie Stern, Dirty Projectors, Atlas Sound). Vernhes had also worked with Deerhunter on their albums Microcastle and Rainwater Cassette Exchange. "When we decided the album was really going to be done, it all moved really quickly. We needed to find a place that was available, so we picked Rare Book Room because we had recorded there before," he said.

He acknowledged that recording in such an expensive city comes with its downsides, continuing, "If we had done it in Atlanta, our food and lodging costs would have been lower. We would have had more money to spend on production. Better drums. We could have created an insane room with more equipment." Cox sadly added, "Every Christmas, Josh asks for an Ibanez bass and an active pickup."

Monomania, Cox said, was his favorite Deerhunter album, "because it's clearly the best." But he allowed that was probably because mostly because it was the most recent, even though some of the songs on it are several years old. "You ask Bob Dylan what his favorite album is, and he'll say "Tempest," he said to illustrate his point. There was some disagreement, however, about whether Lou Reed would pick Lulu or Metal Machine Music. As for the next Deerhunter album, they're not quite there yet. When they are, they'll probably start with 500 songs -- no exaggeration -- leftover from their previous efforts.

In response to "Do you all consider yourselves a rock band?", Cox said yes. Elaborating with a metaphor from earlier in the conversation, when he said a cliche like "I'm just a poor boy from a poor family" (which appears on Monomania track "Dream Captain" and which many assumed was a quote from Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody") could be worn in like good jeans, he said, "I hope we wear the jeans well, and that we wear them in ourselves. In 20 years, we can say they're the perfect jeans."

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