Not just an Animal Collective side project: Entering the Slasher House with Avery Tare
In spite of music videos that are more than vaguely reminiscent of the horror film genre — not to mention the band's name — the “jazz power trio” of Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks are far more than some campy side project.
Comprised of multi-instrumentalist and founding Animal Collective member Avey Tare, Angel Deradoorian (of Dirty Projectors, Deradoorian) on keyboard, and drummer Jeremy Hyman (of Ponytail, Dan Deacon), Slasher Flicks aim to make sounds that “come from a place that’s not human.” Live music fans will be happy to hear that the group used only minimal overdubs while recording their debut album Enter the Slasher House (out this past April), which is somewhat of a rarity amongst many of today’s crispy jams — and also something that's immediately evident when Slasher Flicks take the stage.
Avey Tare, aka Dave Portner, spoke to the SFBG about one of his favorite places to play, letting each band member’s personality shine through, and creating an experience for the audience where they can synonymously get lost in something and feel like part of a collective. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks will be playing LA’s FYF fest this weekend before making their second visit to the Great American Music Hall this Sunday the 24th.
San Francisco Bay Guardian You’re clearly a person who likes to stay busy, considering the Slasher Flicks tour and the Animal Collective DJ sets that have been popping up recently. As far as live performances go, do your various projects satisfy different creative needs? I’m thinking about the elaborate stage set up for the Centipede Hz tour, which makes anything else seem minimal, really. Or are the props irrelevant and it’s more about the kind of work you get to produce?
Avey Tare I think the longer I play with Animal Collective or even just make music in the live realm the more interested I become with creating some all encompassing submersible experience. Who knows where this will go next. I’ve reached a point personally and creatively where I want to go beyond just showing up at clubs and playing live. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that my interests are deep in the visual art and film world. That said I have been enjoying the more minimal set up with Slasher Flicks. It’s nice to just set up and jam and have that be that. As long as our fans can get lost in something or feel like they had some unique experience then I’m happy.
SFBG How was it that Jeremy, Angel, and yourself came together to form Slasher Flicks? You’ve been cited as the main songwriter for most of the Animal Collective albums, but for Enter the Slasher House you crafted an outline of sorts for the songs on acoustic guitar, and let Angel create melodic lines to flesh them out.
AT Sort of. All of my songs do start on on a skeletal level. It really depends on what is needed after that or how I want them to be produced. Each song requires its own place and sounds and atmosphere. A lot of the melodic lines for Slasher Flicks were actually written by me but when it comes down to playing something with other people, you don’t really know what its going to be like til everyone is playing it. For me it’s crucial that Jeremy’s and Angel’s personality gets to shine through so a lot of the rhythms and melodies are sort of loosely placed and left open for their embellishments or reworking etc. You just sort of know when everything clicks. It’s more of a feeling. That’s what playing music with people is about for me. It’s definitely a collective experience, and when you can make your audience feel a part of that collective, then it’s even more rewarding.
Angel and I have been a couple for awhile now. Because we are around each other in creative situations and so aware of how each of us operate it has always just seemed natural that we would work on something together especially 'cause of the respect we have for each other’s talents. I met Jeremy through Angel, actually, but was immediately into his drumming after seeing him play a bunch over the last few years. For some reason I just got it in my head that I wanted to do a collection of songs for a three-piece. Once the songs were written it seemed logical to ask Jeremy and Angel to play them. I guess we are lucky in that we melded very easily.
SFBG Last year Slasher Flicks opened up for Deerhunter at the GAMH before Enter the Slasher House was released. Are you looking forward to returning to the venue and headlining this time? I was fortunate enough to attend that first show, but after being able to listen to the album at home I realize all the more how fitting the GAHM is for the music — especially the bouncy, funhouse-feel of “Little Fang.”
AT I love Great American. It’s definitely my favorite place to play in SF and one of my favorite places anywhere. I have great memories from playing shows there. I think this size venue is probably my favorite to play.
SFBG Speaking of “Little Fang,” the video for the song was directed by your sister (Abby Portner) yet it still has that undeniable Animal Collective hallmark — sharing similar aesthetic qualities to ODDSAC (a visual album collaboration between AC and Danny Perez). I know that ODDSAC took over four years to complete. How has the process of marrying the audio and visual changed for you since working on that project?
AT ODDSAC was unique in that we were trying to write the music and make the sounds as the videos were being created and attempting to piece it together as a whole while we worked. It also took awhile because we were working on other records during the process, as well. It’s always tough putting visuals to my/the groups music because I always have such intense feelings and visuals attached to it that are inside of me. There is often a moment where I have to just give up the resistance to someone else's vision of the music. It can be tough, but it’s been really rewarding so far and taught me a lot about what I like and don't like.
AVEY TARE'S SLASHER FLICKS
Sun/24, 8pm, $16
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell, SF