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Animal Collective is a band originally from Baltimore, Marylandmarker, currently based in New York Citymarker. Animal Collective consists of Avey Tare (David Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), Deakin, or Deacon as spelled on Strawberry Jam (Josh Dibb, not 'Conrad Deaken' as is often claimed), and Geologist (Brian Weitz). Records released under the name Animal Collective may include contributions from any or all of these members; the lineup is not uniform. The band members met in school and started recording together in various forms of collaboration from a young age. The group also runs the record label Paw Tracks on which they have released their own material as well as that of other artists.

History

Origins

Animal Collective grew out of childhood friendships in Baltimore County. Noah Lennox and Josh Dibb met in the second grade and became good friends. Lennox went away to Pennsylvaniamarker for high school, while Dibb attended The Park School of Baltimoremarker along with David Portner and recent Philadelphiamarker transplant Brian Weitz. Weitz and Portner had started playing music since they were 15 because of their shared love of the band Pavement and horror movies. Their musical range included cover songs by Pavement and The Cure as well as the songs Poison by Bell Biv DeVoe and Seasons In The Sun by Terry Jacks. When both met Dibb, they started an indie rock band called Automine with schoolmates Brendan Fowler (a.k.a. BARR) and David Shpritz. Around that time, they had their first experiences with psychedelic drugs such as Acid and started to improvise while playing music. When Portner was 16, he wrote and performed the song "Penny Dreadfuls" with Automine, which later appeared on the first Animal Collective album Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished.After being told that they sound like Syd Barret era Pink Floyd and early Grateful Dead and reading a review of a Climax Golden Twins record around 11th and 12th grade, they started to discover psychedelic and sound music as well as Krautrock related bands like Silver Apples and Can. Meanwhile, Dibb had introduced Lennox to Portner and Weitz and the four of them played music in different combinations and often solo, producing lots of homerecordings, swapping them and sharing ideas. Using a drum machine for the first time, Weitz and Portner started a duo called Wendy Darling, whose sound was inspired by soundtracks of horror movies like The Shining and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and came closer to the later music of Animal Collective.

Lennox and Dibb both went off to college in the Bostonmarker area (Boston Universitymarker and Brandeis Universitymarker), while Portner and Weitz attended schools in New York Citymarker (NYUmarker and Columbia University). Lennox and Dibb assembled Lennox's debut album Panda Bear during this time from the multitude of recordings Lennox had made in the previous years and established their own label, Soccer Star Records, to release it.

Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've VanishedHere Comes The Indian

Abhoring the new life as a student at NYU, Portner, along with Weitz, returned to Maryland every summer to meet Lennox and Dibb and play music together. At that time Portner was also working on a record, which would eventually become Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished. Portner asked Lennox to play drums on the record and they recorded them along with piano and acoustic guitars in the summer of 1999. The rest of the year, Portner returned to Maryland on weekends to record overdubs and finish the mixing. It was finally released in the following summer under the name Avey Tare and Panda Bear. Soccer Star morphed into the Animal label, with the intention of putting out music that came from the four musicians.

While studying, Dave Portner organized shows at New York Universitymarker for a while. As he had class together with Eric Copeland, he organized a show for his band Black Dice and eventually became friends with him. In 2000, Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished was finished, Lennox and Dibb left school in Boston and moved to New York and the group's music became much more collaborative in nature. After introducing Lennox to Copeland, Portner and Lennox played their first show together in New York at The Cooler with Dogg and Pony, The Rapture and Black Dice. That was in late summer of 2000.

This was also the first time they wore makeup and masks, which later became a prominent characteristic of the group's live performances. From thereon, Portner wore a mask for the first two years of the group performing. Lennox wore a Panda hood on his head and later put face paint on; throughout the Europe tour in early 2004 he wore a white wig. Dibb performed masked during the Here Comes the Indian tour. On the Australia tour in November 2006 and inspired by Halloween, they wore masks for the last time.

According to Portner, the reason for disguising was to "help us be more relaxed and find an easier place in that other world we wanted people to join us in." They eventually stopped because they felt like it could become "too gimicky" and distract from the music.

Weitz, as the only member, is still wearing a head lamp at live performances as he did from the beginning. After Portner and Lennox played clubs around New York in twos, Weitz came on board in the end of 2000 and began performing with them.

Much of the live material from this time would eventually end up on Danse Manatee, on the Catsup Plate label. Danse Manatee was released in 2001 under the name of Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist. This process of preparing material in the live setting and then recording and often retiring songs would become a hallmark of Animal Collective.

Notably, the close friendship with Black Dice has been a major influence throughout the group's career. In the summer of 2001, Black Dice took them as support on their first tour, which was captured on the 2002 live album Hollinndagain. It was released by St. Ives, a boutique label run by Secretly Canadian which releases limited edition vinyl only records. Limited to 300 copies, each of which featured a one-of-a-kind handmade cover, Hollinndagain is among the rarest of Animal Collective artifacts. It was re-released, both on CD and vinyl, on October 31, 2006 through the Paw Tracks label.

At this point, Dibb began to perform with the group. The next album to be released was Campfire Songs, again working with Catsup Plate in 2003. The Campfire Songs concept and some of the material dated back to the earliest Avey Tare and Panda Bear shows in New Yorkmarker. Recorded live in 2001 on a screened-in porch in Monkton, Marylandmarker, the record is one take of five songs played straight through. Attempting to make a record as warm and inviting as a campfire, the band recorded their performance straight to minidisc, with one recorder outside to grab the ambient sound of the environment. Field recordings of the surrounding area were also added. The original album is out of print but Paw Tracks has announced a 2010 reissue. In 2002, Animal Collective also attained notoriety for their appearance on Arto Lindsay's album Invoke (Righteous Babe Records).

Worrying that Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin and Geologist would be too long-winded a moniker, and with record companies advising that a unifying name would be necessary for the marketplace, the group decided to adopt a catch-all name. Using their old label of Animal as inspiration they picked "Animal Collective". This formation was to be different from a straightforward band, giving the musicians the freedom to work in combinations of two to four, as dictated by the project at hand or their mood. Their first entry under this name was Here Comes the Indian, which was released in 2003 by their newly formed record label, Paw Tracks. Paw Tracks was formed with Todd Hyman from Carpark records. Animal Collective makes decisions on what Paw Tracks is to release, while Hyman runs the day-to-day operations. The group was happy to find someone like Hyman, who had experience running a label and was dedicated to the group's music; the Animal label was more or less abandoned upon the formation of Paw Tracks. Here Comes the Indian was the first record to feature all four of Animal Collective and its dense textures and energetic performances widened the exposure of the group significantly.

After the two releases in 2003 attracted much attention, Black Dice introduced the group to the Fat Cat Records label which eventually ended up with the group beginning a relationship with their new admirers. The first Fat Cat release from the Collective was a double disc package of Spirit and Danse Manatee, which were previously only available or well-known in and around New York.

Sung TongsStrawberry Jam

After the dense soundscapes of Here Comes the Indian, Portner and Lennox decided to concentrate on more stripped-down material. Each of them began composing material and they performed as a duo usually with just acoustic guitars, a single drum, some effects and their voices. The duo toured the world for the better part of a year with this new material, opening for múm and Four Tet among others, before retreating to Lamar, Colorado to record the material with Rusty Santos, a New York musician and friend. The result was Sung Tongs, released on Fat Cat Records in 2004. Sung Tongs received a great deal of critical acclaim for its strong harmonies, exotic textures, hummable melodies and free-wheeling nature.

The group was introduced to Vashti Bunyan in Scotlandmarker by Kieran Hebden (AKA Four Tet), who had recently played in Bunyan's band. Being fans of the cult folk singer's 1970 album Just Another Diamond Day, the group had dinner with Bunyan and asked her to collaborate on some recordings. The group encouraged her to sing lead vocals on three songs left over from the Sung Tongs era, released on the Prospect Hummer EP in early 2005. The release led to a Fat Cat Records signing for Vashti Bunyan, who finally wrote, recorded and released a second album, ending a thirty year hiatus.

In October 2005, Animal Collective released their highly anticipated sixth album. Again the work of all four members of the band, Feels was recorded in Seattle with Scott Colburn, known for his work with the Sun City Girls. Since early 2004 the group's regular setlists had included exclusively post-Sung-Tongs material, except for "We Tigers" and "Kids on holiday", which have been performed regularly up to the present. Following the release of Feels, Animal Collective mounted their most extensive tour, which lasted into the Fall of 2006 and saw them visit Australia and New Zealand for the first time in addition to many European festivals and North American dates, including a headline set in the Carling Tent at the Reading and Leeds festival.

One of the group's hallmarks is to perform mostly new songs, sometimes up to two years before they are finally recorded. Accordingly, they debuted several new songs during their 2005 and 2006 tours, then only known by their working titles: "Reverend Green", "Fireworks" (formerly "Allman Vibe" and also "Bottle Rocket"), "Chores", "#1", "Safer", "Peace Bone", "Cuckoo" and "Street Flash." Most of these appear on their 2007 album Strawberry Jam, some under slightly altered titles.

In the late fall of 2006, Animal Collective released People in Australia as a 7" on their Australian label Spunk Records, and worldwide as a 12" and CD EP in early 2007 on FatCat Records. It contains three studio songs "People", "Tiwkid", and "My Favorite Colors", as well as a live version of "People".

In January 2007, Domino Recording Company announced that they would be releasing the new, then still unnamed, Animal Collective album. On July 4, 2007, Strawberry Jam was leaked online. The album was released in the U.S. on September 11, 2007 and received immediate praise, due in part to a strong focus on vocals. Songs such as "For Reverend Green" serve as a showcase for the dynamic vocal range of Avey Tare. Further, the album closer 'Derek' is similar to the sound found on Panda Bear's Person Pitch.

In early 2007, while the recording process of Strawberry Jam, member Deakin announced via the Collected Animals forum that he would take a break from touring caused by a "myriad of personal reasons" until fall. Since then, he has not returned to the group and Animal Collective has performed as a three-piece.

March 20, 2007 saw the release of Panda Bear's solo album, Person Pitch. A series of EPs and singles led up to that release, beginning with "I'm Not" b/w "Comfy in Nautica" on United Acoustic Recordings (UUAR), "Bro's", a 12" on Fat Cat, and, most recently, Carrots, a split with Excepter on Paw Tracks (all of these appeared on the album). The album received much acclaim, including Album of the Year from Pitchfork Media and Tiny Mix Tapes.

On April 27, 2007 Portner released an album under the Avey Tare moniker, Pullhair Rubeye, with his wife Kria Brekken, formerly of the Icelandic band múm. The album is noted for the tracks being reversed. It was received very poorly by both critics and fans. Several "fixed" versions have been home rendered playing the reversed tracks in reverse - i.e. forward.

Merriweather Post Pavilion

The band toured extensively throughout 2007, completing several American and European tours. Beginning in May 2007 the band debuted a brand new batch of post-Strawberry Jam live songs. These songs were written in an intense two-week session before the tour, months before the release of Strawberry Jam. On October 5, 2007, the band, in its full four-man line up (opposed to its three-man lineup performances in 2007 and 2008) made their national television debut on Late Night with Conan O'Brien performing the song "#1" in support of Strawberry Jam.

Water Curses EP leaked on March 12, 2008, and was released on May 5, 2008. On April 9, the song "Water Curses" was released by itself digitally.

In early 2008 and still as a three piece, the collective entered the studio to record tracks for their eighth studio album. The album, entitled Merriweather Post Pavilion, was officially announced on the band's official website on October 5, 2008 and was released January 6, 2009. Even before the record was released, several music magazines like Fact Magazine started to refer to it as "The Best Album of 2009", while Uncut Magazine called it "one of the landmark american albums of the century so far"[147287]. The band set to tour throughout Europe and US in 2009, notably being one of the headlining acts at September's ATP New York Festival, where Lennox is also performing a solo set as Panda Bear.

Starting with the first tour dates in 2009 the band introduced a new song, "What Would I Want? Sky", to the audience. This song was also part of a BBC Session recording. The May 2009 tour saw the debut of "Bleed". These songs would later be put on their Fall Be Kind EP

On May 7, 2009 the band made their second television appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, performing the song "Summertime Clothes" from Merriweather Post Pavilion. The appearance included the regular three-man lineup indicative of their 2007-2009 tours, which excluded Josh Dibb. Four dancers draped in sheets also appeared on-stage behind the band, a first in their live performances. The dancers appeared in the Summertime Clothes music video, filmed by close friend Danny Perez. The video accompanied the release of the single on July 7, 2009, also featuring remixes by Zomby (Hyperdub), Dâm-Funk (Stones Throw), and L.D.

In an interview with Pitchfork Media, Portner announced the next single from the album will be "Brothersport" which was released November 9 on vinyl with the live B-side "Bleeding". Following the single will be a December 8 release of an EP called Fall Be Kind, which will include leftovers from Merriweather Post Pavillion, "Graze" and "I Think I Can", as well as previously BBC-recorded "What Would I Want? Sky" (which contains the first ever legal Grateful Dead Sample) and "On A Highway". Also included will be the recently toured "Bleed".

Visual Record and Touring Hiatus

For the last three years, the band has been working on a still-untitled visual record with Danny Perez, who directed music videos for the band's "Who Could Win a Rabbit?" and "Summertime Clothes" singles. The movie is supposed to feature visuals to accompany their music. Panda Bear stated they would like to "create a movie that would have visuals similar to what somebody would see if they closed their eyes while listening to Animal Collective's music". Weitz further added that "it's the most experimental stuff we've ever done." According to Portner, "Maybe here and there, in our minds, there's some weird narratives going on. The whole thing cohesively doesn't have one narrative; it's more of a visual or psychedelic thing. There are parts that are almost completely abstract, and there are parts that are little bit more live-action." In an interview with Pitchfork Media regarding the status of the film, Portner stated:

"I think there might be a few minor mixing things that we have to do-- changes, tweaks, whatever you want to call them. Musically, it's all written and done and laid down. Danny has to do whatever you do to finalize film stuff. That's not really my world, so I don't know so well, but I know there's color correction and that kind of thing, smoothing out all the edits. Danny could probably work on it forever. [Laughs.] After three years, we're all pretty much ready to be done with it. We watched it straight through twice now in a projected theater situation, and we're all really psyched on it. Hopefully, it'll be done sometime next year."

The film was submitted to the Sundance Film Festival and the band would like to screen it in theaters, if possible. Following that, they expect to release a DVD of the film through Plexifilm.

Aside from touring New Zealand and Australia in December, the band has planned on taking a break from their two years of touring to focus more on creating and writing music.

A video for the song "In The Flowers" was posted on Animal Collective's web site in mid November. The video was directed by Abby Portner, Avey Tare's sister.

On November 13th, Panda Bear announced a small European tour of his solo material.

Members

  • Avey Tare (David Portner; vocals, guitar, samples, keys, percussion) – Name comes from "tearing" apart the name Davey, hence Avey Tare.


  • Deakin (Josh Dibb; guitar, vocals) – Name comes from letters he used to write to other members under the name Conrad Deacon. He has used a different spelling of the name for each album he has appeared on and been credited for. He has been absent from the group since the start of 2007, but plans to return soon.


  • Geologist (Brian Weitz; electronics, samples, vocals) – Name comes from the headlamp he wears in order to see the electronics during live shows. Also, people mistakenly thought Brian was in geology, rather than marine biology in college.


  • Panda Bear (Noah Lennox; vocals, percussion, samples, guitar) – Name comes from the panda he drew on the first set of songs he ever wrote.


Discography

Studio albums



EPs



Live albums



Compilations



Singles



Splits



Remixes



Solo and related

Panda Bear:

Terrestrial Tones (Avey Tare and Eric Copeland of Black Dice):
  • Blasted (2005, Psych-o-Path records)
  • Oboroed/Circus Lives (2005, UUAR)
  • Dead Drunk (2006, Paw Tracks)


Jane (Panda Bear and Scott Mou):

Avey Tare:

Avey Tare & Kría Brekkan:

References

  1. Collected Animals Post by Dave Portner under the user name "wheeter", December 5th, 2006
  2. Collected Animals Post by Dave Portner under the user name "wheeter", August 10th, 2006
  3. Interview with Panda Bear, The Milk Factory, April 2005
  4. Collected Animals Post by Deakin, January 9th, 2008
  5. Collected Animals Post by Dave Portner under the user name "wheeter", January 9th, 2008
  6. Collected Animals Post by Dave Portner under the user name "wheeter", January 9th, 2008
  7. http://www.paw-tracks.com/news.html
  8. Collected Animals Post by Deakin, January 30th 2007
  9. URES 2007: Tiny Mix Tapes Favorite Albums of 2007: 25 Albums That Defined 2007 for TMT http://www.tinymixtapes.com/2007-Tiny-Mix-Tapes-Favorite
  10. http://www.dominorecordco.com/uk/news/10-10-08/merriweather-post-pavilion/
  11. http://www.myanimalhome.net
  12. http://newsroom.mtv.com/2008/08/11/the-roots-animal-collective-kings-of-leon-and-more-enjoy-disorganized-spirit-of-all-points-west/
  13. http://www.idiomag.com/artist/animal_collective/#/48441/1/
  14. http://pitchfork.com/news/36753-animal-collectives-avey-tare-reveals-all-about-new-ep-film-tour-hiatus/
  15. http://pitchfork.com/news/36753-animal-collectives-avey-tare-reveals-all-about-new-ep-film-tour-hiatus/
  16. http://www.myanimalhome.net
  17. http://www.pitchfork.com
  18. explained on WNYC's "Spinning On Air," July 30, 2004, second hour.
  19. http://www.dominorecordco.com/uk/news/20-01-09/animal-collective-announce-uk-tour-for-march-and-new-single/
  20. http://pitchfork.com/news/35322-new-animal-collective-single-out-soon/


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