Animal Collective performing live in Prague on October 14, 2008. (L-R) Weitz, Portner, and Lennox.
|Origin||Baltimore, Maryland, United States|
|Genres||Experimental, freak folk, psychedelic pop, electronic, noise pop|
|Labels||Animal, Catsup Plate, St. Ives, Paw Tracks, Fat Cat, Domino|
|Associated acts||Vashti Bunyan|
|Members||David Portner (Avey Tare)
Noah Lennox (Panda Bear)
Brian Weitz (Geologist)
Josh Dibb (Deakin)
Animal Collective is an experimental band originally from Baltimore, Maryland. The band consists of Avey Tare (David Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), Deakin (Josh Dibb), 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, though Portner and Lennox have been on every Animal Collective release. The group also runs the record label Paw Tracks on which they have released their own material as well as that of other artists.
- 1 History
- 2 Members
- 3 Discography
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Animal Collective grew out of childhood friendships in Baltimore County. Noah Lennox and Josh Dibb met in the second grade at the Waldorf School of Baltimore and became good friends. After the eighth grade, Lennox went away to a Waldorf high school in Pennsylvania, while Dibb enrolled at The Park School of Baltimore, where David Portner had studied since grade school. In 1993, Brian Weitz moved from Philadelphia to Baltimore County and began attending Park as well, becoming friends with Portner. According to Lennox, they attended "progressive" schools that emphasized creativity, imagination and artistic self-expression as part of "a complete kind of education". Weitz and Portner started playing music together at the age of fifteen 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 later in High School, they started an indie rock band called Automine with schoolmates Brendan Fowler (a.k.a. BARR) and David Shpritz, being the only ones they knew who wrote their own songs. "We [once] set up a show with four bands—bands that were different formations of us", Portner remembered in an Interview with Baltimore City Paper. At that time, the group did not have any contact to the music scene in Baltimore and "was more about the back porch."
In 1995, Automine self-released their first and only record, the 7-inch-single Padington Band. Around that time, they also had their first experiences with psychedelic drugs like LSD 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.
The four started to discover psychedelic and experimental music like Noggin, as well as krautrock-related bands such as Silver Apples and Can. Meanwhile, Dibb had introduced Lennox to Portner and Weitz, and the four of them began playing music in different group lineups (and often solo), producing several home recordings and 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 Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Shining, especially György Ligeti and Krzysztof Penderecki.
In 1997, Lennox and Dibb both went off to college in the Boston area (Boston University and Brandeis University), while Portner and Weitz attended schools in New York City (NYU 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 Vanished
Abhorring 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.
In parallel with his environmental policy and marine biology studies, Weitz hosted a noise show at WKCR, Columbia's college radio station. On weekends, he and Portner borrowed avant-garde music records and listened to them all night at Weitz's dorm room which rapidly broadened their musical horizon.
In the summer of 2000, the four friends spent several months at Portner's apartment in downtown New York City intensely playing music together using antiquated synthesizers, acoustic guitars, and household objects. According to Lennox, in this summer the basis for all later Animal Collective's music was created: However, all recordings of this period were stolen when Portner changed apartments and packed up the car the night before he moved.
While studying, Dave Portner organized shows at New York University 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 gimmicky" and distract from the music, although Weitz still sports a head lamp at live performances, as he did from the beginning.
Danse Manatee–Here Comes the Indian
After Portner and Lennox had 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 (Catsup Plate). 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 York. Recorded live in 2001 on Portner's aunt's screened-in porch in Monkton, Maryland, 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 reissued it on January 26, 2010.
After this recording session they started to work on new material which was later released on Here Comes the Indian and they were faced with some serious problems within the group. In early 2002, they went on their first big tour which took them to the South of the US and turned out to be "pretty brutal [...]. "We all lost our minds on that tour", Portner recalls. Right before their next tour in summer, Weitz got the message that he was accepted to his first choice graduate school in Arizona. After three chaotic days on the road with their tour van breaking down, equipment getting damaged bundled with a lack of money, the tour was about to be cancelled. "At that point we all knew we'd get back from tour, record the songs, and then we needed space from each other, and we still had more than 2 weeks left on the road", Weitz remembers on the Collected Animals Board. When they arrived in San Francisco, he eventually decided in favor of school and left the group for one year.
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, formed with Carpark Records' Todd Hyman. 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 Tongs–Strawberry 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.
In the meantime, Brian Weitz returned from Arizona and he and Josh Dibb joined the duo again. All four started writing new songs together which finally ended up on their 2005 release Feels. Animal Collective, as the duo of Panda Bear & Deakin (a.k.a. Noah's Ark), toured in Japan for the first time in February 2004 with Carpark Records' artists Greg Davis & Ogurusu Norihide. In early 2004, they started touring with their regular setlists including exclusively post-Sung-Tongs material, except for "We Tigers" and "Who Could Win a Rabbit?", which have been performed regularly up to the present. During their Europe tour, the group was introduced to Vashti Bunyan in Edinburgh, Scotland 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. Weitz, who had started a day job in early 2004, could not join this tour and therefore missed the recording session with Bunyan, but contributed one instrumental song to the EP. The release in 2005 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 Climax Golden Twins' Scott Colburn, known for his work with the Sun City Girls. 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 tracks 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", "Tikwid", 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. During the recording process in early 2007 member Josh Dibb announced via the Collected Animals forum that he would take a break from touring for a "myriad of personal reasons" until fall. Animal Collective performed live as a three-piece from that time until late 2009 with Deakin making his return to live performances in 2011.
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, which was released on March 20, 2007. 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.
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 (as 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.
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On March 12, 2008, Water Curses EP leaked 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 after the outdoor concert venue, was officially announced on the band's official website on October 5, 2008 and was released January 6, 2009. The first single released from the album was "My Girls". Even before the record was released, several music magazines like Fact Magazine (UK) 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". 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 also performed a solo set as Panda Bear.
Starting with the first tour dates in early 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 single "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 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 last single from the album would be "Brother Sport", which was released November 9 on vinyl with the live B-side "Bleed".
The release of the Fall Be Kind EP followed on December 8, which included Merriweather leftovers "Graze" and "I Think I Can", along with "What Would I Want? Sky", containing the first ever legal Grateful Dead sample,. Also included were "On A Highway" and "Bleed".
ODDSAC and Transverse Temporal Gyrus
For four years, the band had been working on ODDSAC, a visual record, with Danny Perez, who directed music videos for the band's "Who Could Win a Rabbit" and "Summertime Clothes" singles. The movie featured visuals which were developed and edited simultaneously with the music they recorded for it. 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."
Aside from touring New Zealand and Australia in December 2009, the band planned a break from their two years of touring to focus more on creating and writing music. On November 13, Panda Bear announced a small European tour of his solo material in early 2010.
On March 4, 2010, Avey Tare, Deakin and Geologist collaborated once again with Danny Perez in the audio-visual performance piece Transverse Temporal Gyrus at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, celebrating its 50th anniversary. Two years later, it was announced that a collage of studio and live recordings of music from the project would be released as a 12" vinyl LP on April 21 for Record Store Day 2012.
During several interviews in the second half of 2010, Lennox and Portner mentioned plans for Animal Collective's next album, including writing all together in the same location and the possibility of recording the new songs before taking them on tour, neither of which had happened for a long time. Portner revealed in October that the band would soon be moving back to Baltimore to write music there.
Near the end of October 2010, All Tomorrow's Parties announced that Animal Collective would be curating and headlining their UK festival in May 2011. It was confirmed in late November 2010 that Deakin would be rejoining the group for this show as well as the rest of the shows of their new tour. Before starting their first European tour of 2011, all four members of the band had a short tour of California leading up to an appearance at the Coachella Music Festival. At the shows, the band mostly played their newly written songs that were yet to be recorded.
During this period, the members of Animal Collective were invited by Maryland Film Festival to share a favorite film with an audience. On the evening of May 6, 2011, Avey Tare, Geologist, and Deakin presented a rare 35mm print of the 1983 Shaw Brothers production The Boxer's Omen in the historic Charles Theatre, and noted that another favorite film of the group was House.
Portner, in an interview for Madison, revealed that they had just finished writing sessions and that they intended to start full recording sessions in January 2012 for the next album. “We just finished another two weeks of writing sessions and put together five new songs,” he said, noting that the crew planned to begin full recording sessions in January. “We’re really excited about this record … and it’s been really fun jamming with those guys again."
On May 6, 2012 they announced the release of a 7" through Domino Records, entitled Honeycomb / Gotham. Both tracks were immediately made available to stream through their website. One week later, Animal Collective released a video on their website indicating that a new album, Centipede Hz, would be released in September 2012.
- Avey Tare (David Portner; vocals, guitar, synthesizer, sequencer, keys, piano, percussion, autoharp) – Name comes from "tearing" apart the name David (Davey), hence Avey Tare. It is not related to the word "avatar".
- Panda Bear (Noah Lennox; vocals, percussion, samples, synthesizer, electronics, guitar) – Name comes from the panda he drew on tapes he made for friends of the first set of songs he ever wrote.
- Deakin (Josh Dibb; synthesizer, guitar, vocals, percussion, sequencer, sampler, drum pad, bass guitar) – Name comes from letters he used to write to other members under the name Conrad Deacon. He has used different spellings of the name on different albums: "Deaken" on Here Comes the Indian, "Deakin" on Feels and "Deacon" on Strawberry Jam and the single "Grass" Dibb went back to the moniker "Deakin" for the Centipede Hz album. Having been absent from the band's tours since early 2007, he began a solo tour in 2010 (using the spelling "Deakin" at the request of fellow Baltimorean musician Dan Deacon, in order to avoid confusion). He rejoined the band in 2010.
- Geologist (Brian Weitz; electronics, samples, minidiscs, vocals, synthesizer, piano, percussion) – Name comes from the headlamp he wears in order to see the electronics during live shows. A friend mistakenly assumed Brian studied geology in college; however, he studied marine biology.
- Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished (2000)
- Danse Manatee (2001)
- Campfire Songs (2003)
- Here Comes the Indian (2003)
- Sung Tongs (2004)
- Feels (2005)
- Strawberry Jam (2007)
- Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
- Centipede Hz (2012)
- Prospect Hummer (2005) (with Vashti Bunyan)
- People (2006)
- Water Curses (2008)
- Fall Be Kind (2009)
- Keep + Animal Collective (2011)
- Transverse Temporal Gyrus (2012)
- Honeycomb / Gotham (2012)
- Monkey Been to Burn Town (2013)
- ODDSAC (2010)
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...I am most likely taking a break from touring with the band until sometime this fall. It was a hard choice to come to, but for a myriad of personal reasons I decided I would benefit a lot from spending a little less time running around the world.
- Animal Collective: Strawberry Jam | Album Reviews. Pitchfork (2007-09-10). Retrieved on 2012-06-29.
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right now Merriweather Post Pavilion doesn't just seem like one of the first great records of 2009, it feels like one of the landmark American albums of the century so far.
- Phillips, Amy (July 7, 2009). "Animal Collective License First Legal Grateful Dead Sample Ever". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
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- Top Avant-Garde/Experimental albums in Exclaim! 2009 readers poll Exclaim.ca
- Top Electronic albums in Exclaim! 2009 readers poll Exclaim.ca
- "Animal Collective's "Oddsac" Debuts at Sundance". January 27, 2010. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
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- Pitchfork Media ~ News "Panda Bear Announces Solo Tour", November 13, 2009
- Guggenheim ~ Releases "Guggenheim Presents Animal Collective and Danny Perez Performance", February 17, 2010
- "Animal Collective – Transverse Temporal Gyrus". Vintage Vinyl Records.
- Brooklyn Vegan "an interview w/ Noah Lennox aka Panda Bear (about the album release date, status of Animal Collective & more)", September 7, 2010
- Pitchfork ~ News "Avey Tare Talks New Solo Album, Animal Collective's Future, Crocodiles", August 19, 2010
- self-titled magazine :: self-titled daily "THE SELF-TITLED INTERVIEW: Avey Tare of Animal Collective", October 19, 2010
- ATP: All Tomorrow's Parties "ANIMAL COLLECTIVE TO CURATE ATP UK IN MAY 2011 – ON SALE FRIDAY", October 27, 2010
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- Pitchfork "interviews: Panda Bear"
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- Twitter: Merriweather Post "JUST ANNOUNCED at @MerriweatherPP : Animal Collective on July 9!", April 18, 2011
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- Explained on WNYC's "Spinning On Air," July 30, 2004, second hour.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Animal Collective.|
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