April 12th, 2007 | Interviews

sarah tillman

Deerhunter sometimes sound like the gentler side of Les Rallizes Denudes and come from Atlanta, where they had a trying time recording their recent record Cryptograms (out now on Kranky). Bassist Joshua Fauver, guitarist Lockett Pundt, guitarist Colin Mee and vocalist Bradford Cox wait with drummer Moses Archuleta, who speaks now while preparing to cross the border into Canada.

Why did you have to go to military school? Did you commit a lot of crimes?
When I was growing up, I was an army brat, and every time we moved, my parents would flip-flop on the school. So first I went to Catholic school, and then we moved to another fort and I went to public school, and then a private school—basically every kind of school there is. I think an old army buddy of my dad’s suggested the military academy, and the next thing I know, I’m in there for 11th and 12th grade. It sucked. I thought it would never end. We went through so many routines and so many things are still ingrained in me.
You can’t help saluting every flag you see?
I think I disliked it so much I’ve forgotten everything about it. It was almost like a two-year hole.
Were there ever any moments of happiness?
I definitely experienced a lot of escapism through music. I would do a lot of mailorder—that became a really big deal to me.
Did the record label people feel bad for you?
Kindercore wrote a letter back—‘Hey, you’re in military school—here’s some free stuff!’
I read you went to the same school as the Black Lips. I didn’t know they went to school.
Our guitar player Colin went to school with them—it’s funny because quite a family of musicians developed from one or two grades in Dunwoody. Colin, the Black Lips, I think two of the guys from Tilly and the Wall—a lot of people are from there.
Do people actually constantly offer you guys heroin?
It happened once. In Nashville. It was weird. It was like a more heavy version of the way people after shows—how there’s a fifty-fifty chance some dude comes up like, ‘Hey, that was cool—do you smoke?’
Is there anything you would like people to constantly offer you?
Cookies would be great.
Has anyone ever sent you a death threat?
I don’t think so. I bet Bradford would have some stories. I’ve had someone say ‘have a nice life’ to me. I always found that a really funny way to tell someone off. It’s so indirect.
Was Cryptograms as hard to make as people say?
I guess it’s been blown out of proportion a little. When you write it down, it sounds really big and mythical. Not to take away from that—it was difficult doing it, and we never thought we were gonna finish, and when we did finish we never thought it would get put out. So pretty much everything you’ve heard is true, but it sounds a lot more dramatic in print. We ended up meeting good people to work with that we trust.
How did you maintain serenity during all the chaos?
I don’t know. Colin and Bradford both love tea. Colin especially loves kombucha. And he runs and exercises a lot.
So exercise and eating right?
And we play Tetris a lot. Josh and I are sparring for high scores. I seem to have only one great game in me a day.
Have you ever put on your own record during a long drive to see how it sounds?
We never thought of that. Though it could be fun. People write us—the thing we get most often is, ‘Dude, I got totally stoned and listened to your record—it’s awesome, man!’ That someone felt it was necessary to tell us that—we get that all the time. The idea of being a psychedelic band—it kind of brings up bad connotations. To be honest, we’re a pretty clean band. Pretty sober. That’s funny that that’s people’s idea of what we’re into.
What was it like playing a frat party at Georgia Tech?
Cold. We have a cold spell when spring is starting, and it was outdoors, and we had to play forever—everything we knew. The other band played like grunge covers and we had to go on and play for like an hour. Our running time for both records maybe cracks an hour.
So the ultimate Deerhunter show was at a frat party at Georgia Tech.
We’ve never done that before and we probably never will again. I think people were kind of ignoring it anyway. ‘There’s noise and… it’s cool.’
What is your favorite episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete?
Wasn’t Malkmus in one? I’m a big fan but I only had them on VHS and my VHS player broke a couple of years ago. But it’s held up really well. Most people I know really like it. I’m not sure if it’s nostalgia or if it’s actually good—I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s good. I love it.
Which is your favorite Neu! record?
The first one, which is the first I ever heard. It’s cool to hear something that minimal and really repetitive made with rock instruments. One common thread in the band is we’ve definitely heard a lot of krautrock. When we recorded our record, there was also lots of listening to Bowie’s Berlin trilogy. And I’d go so far as to say Bradford and I are fans of pretty recent techno coming out of Germany.
Are you familiar with Archuleta mesa in New Mexico?
Yes, I lived in Gallup for two years.
So you know about the alien base underneath?
Supposedly. Yeah.