We caught up with Dan Deacon after a show and asked him a couple of questions. He talked about playing with the Ensemble, plans for a new record and bands he thought we ought to give a listen. Read the interview below.
NC: Great show tonight, it was amazing.
DD: Thank you.
NC: Actually we’ve already had the chance to see you live last spring during the Primavera Sound Festival where you played with the Ensemble. What’s the difference between playing in a more intimate setting, a smaller venue and in a festival setting?
DD: I don’t really approach them differently- Tonight I opened up really casual and sort of like enjoyed talking to the audience quite a bit, and at a festival it’s kinda hard to chit chat when it’s 15 thousand or 30 thousand people or so. It is very different, I enjoy them both but I sort of prefer the smaller crowds when I’m solo and the bigger crowds when I have the Ensemble. Does that make any sense?
NC: Yeah. How come you chose to play with such a huge ensemble for Bromst? It consists of 14 people.
DD: Well, the album was written for a lot of live instrumentation and I wanted that to be translated live and that was the smallest number of people that could play the parts.
NC: What’s the difference between playing solo and having to coordinate with fourteen different people?
DD: Again, I enjoy them both, but they are very different mindsets, like when I’m playing solo with the ipod instead of with the Ensemble it is easier for me to just wile out and try and get everyone to dance. When I’m on my own I play on the floor, and when I’m with the Ensemble I play on stage. I actually have more of a role of conductor/band leader, but it’s more freeing for us to speed things up or slow things down or jam on certain sections or improvise so they are both liberating in different ways and restricting in different ways.
NC: Is it difficult to get the crowd to cooperate? For example tonight the people weren’t really feeling the whole kiss your palm rub it on someone else’s face thing.
DD: I think a lot of that has to do with cultural difference, especially places that used to be formerly forced into communism, they don’t really like the collectivist idea of it, being forced to do that something everyone else is doing. I talked to someone about this in Prague, I never really thought about it, and they were like – we used to be forced into doing what everyone else did, now we don’t want to do that. I never really thought about it in that context.
NC: I think it might be reading a little too much into it, honestly.
DD: I think it’s a cultural thing, the places that tend to have the hardest time with this are… I’d say here. I think here was the most resistant. But I think by the time the dance contest came about they had warmed up, I think they realized it wasn’t gonna be like… I think a lot of people are worried about being made fun of or made out to look like a fool and that’s not what I’m trying to do and I think by the time the dance contest came about they realized it was more about having fun and letting loose.
It’s the goddamn communists… If there’s one thing Americans hate it’s… No, no. [laughter]
NC: At what point did you decide to add all this things to your performance like the dance off and the choreography..?
DD: It grew organically, it started with just the dance contest which is sort of what I’ve reduced it back down to, to just being that, ‘cos with the last tour I was doing five or six different things and it was just..
NC: Too much?
DD: Yeah. I like performance art and group performance and using the audience as a music composition or like a palette, but I just wanna rage.
NC: How was the the tour with No Age and Deerhunter?
DD: It was cool. It was, um, very odd, but it was cool. There was a lot personality involved.
NC: What has been your favorite show so far?
DD: I don’t know, I don’t really have favorites, but if I had to recall a show in recent memory … I think it would be a show in Washington, D.C. with the Ensemble, that was like one of the highlights of my musical life.
NC: You’re still active with Wham City?
DD: Very much so.
NC: Are there any bands that you would like to recommend?
DD: Oh yeah, Future Islands, Ed Schrader, um, he’s a really awesome solo performer. The Lower Dens… um, what else is really good? Think, think, think. I know this. Oh, Nuclear Power Pants, an awesome band.
NC: All of these a part of Wham City?
DD: Most of them, yeah, I’d say. There either in Wham City or friends of Wham City. Jimmy Joe Roche. This band Dope Body, really good , some sort of like punk band.
NC: Do you ever do encores?
DD: Sometimes. Tonight I felt like we ended on a good point, we should just leave it there.
NC: Is everything planned out before you go on, you know exactly what you’re going to play and do?
DD: I pretty much know what I’m going to play. I like to stick to the set and keep it to what I know will work.
NC: Do you have plans for a new record?
DD: Yeah, I’m gonna start recording as soon as I get home.
NC: Do you have specific ideas in regards to the next record?
DD: I do, but they’re secret.
NC: Oh, tell us something!
DD: One record will be entirely played by humans, there won’t be any computer on it or sequence stuff.