Avey Tare
Down in the Swamp
by David Holmes

After they released the best album of 2009 (according to the Agit Reader and roughly a thousand other magazines and blogs), you’d think the boys of Animal Collective would give themselves a break. But since that time, they’re scored an experimental film called ODDSAC, put out a line of shoes, and worked on individual solo albums.

With Panda Bear’s Tomboy due to come out any day now, and Avey Tare’s murky and moody Down There already released, 2010 has been as busy a year as any for the experimental quartet. I recently chatted with Tare via email about festivals, songwriting, and various swamp creatures including alligators, crocodiles, and Predators.

What made you want to record an album without Animal Collective?

Avey Tare: Basically, Animal Collective has been taking some time off because of babies and Noah wanting to work on Panda Bear stuff. I had been working on songs for Down There for about two years off and on whenever I could find the time. When it became clear to me that I had a record ready to go, it just made sense for me to do it on my own. It’s been awhile since I’ve done anything like this, and I think sometime recently it became really important for me to get it done that way.

The production on the album has a very “submerged” sound to it that is markedly different from the most recent Animal Collective releases. What made you go in that direction on this record?

AT: I think we’ve always messed around with watery sounding sounds in some way. Brian (Weitz, a.k.a. Geologist) and I have always been a fan of the predator sounds in the movie Predator. They have a pretty wet and swampy feel to us. That combined with the way I was feeling, just being sort of stuck in the mud, so to speak, made me want the record to have a very murky sound. My friend described it as being like dipping your face into a swimming pool full of wet leaves. I like that.

Why did you choose to record the album in an old church?

AT: That’s where Animal Collective keeps all of its gear. We have a small studio set up there, and the rooms are really great for getting good natural reverb sounds.

Alligators and crocodiles are common motifs of the artwork and promotion surrounding this album. Why alligators and crocodiles?

AT: Those are two of my favorite animals. They’re swamp dwellers, so they fit the vibe I was going for. For some reason, I’ve always pictured the cover of the record looking like a vanishing crocodile head.

How did the idea to design your own line of shoes come about?

AT: Una (Kim) came up with the idea, and it was sweet to be able to collaborate with her on a project because we’ve known each other for so long.

What artists are you listening to right now?

AT: Steely Dan, Panda Bear, Teengirl Fantasy, Catherine Ribero and Alpes.

Could you talk a little bit about the process involved in curating bands for All Tomorrow’s Parties? How did you settle on which bands would play?

AT: We came up with a list of all the bands we liked these days. It was really hard to do, actually, because even bands we all like didn’t make our “top priority” list. I think we wanted it to feel a little different from ATPs of the past. We thought about bands that don’t get a lot of exposure in the UK, things like that.

Your next album with Animal Collective will be the first one recorded in Baltimore in a while. What made you want to return there?

AT: Baltimore rules.