Dan Deacon, the Indie king of audience participation talks time travel, the desert and his new album, “USA”.

JL: You used to live off the grid. No ID. No passport. Traveling only by car and train. Has seeing the world changed you?

It definitely changed my life. It introduced me to subcultures that I never would’ve had any knowledge of and just showed me there was more to the culture of the United States than chain stores and strip stores and suburbs. There is a genuine non-commercialized culture out there that exists for the sake of existing. It’s genuine culture. I have a hard time describing it. Going to beautiful places. You’re muted by the experience. When I first started touring I was very nihilistic and didn’t really think there’d be a future and relished in the idea of an apocalypse and now I would hate to see that happen to the Earth. I think that’d be terrible.

JL: Where would you suggest everyone visit before they die?

DD: The American West is incredible. There are endless state parks and state forests. They’re like nature’s library. I think most people should definitely go to as many of them as possible. The United States is amazing. I have to say the American desert is the most beautiful place in the world. The most psychedelic environment. It’s insane.

JL: You’ve finally traveled abroad. What places are left to visit?

DD: I’d love to tour Africa. I’d love to tour India. I’ve never been to China. I’d love to tour China.  I’ve never been to Russia. I’d love to go to South America [again] and spend some more time there. Alaska. I’ve never been to Alaska.

JL: What do you see in your future? Are you still rocking out in your age or you at home in a rocking chair?

DD: You’re freaking me out. I see a little bit of all those things. I definitely see myself continuing to make music or art in some capacity. I feel like if I didn’t, I’d go insane. It’s very therapeutic for me to have that process of creation. I’d lose my mind if I didn’t do it. As far as long term, yeah I’d like to have a family. I don’t know, the world is so completely insane, so it’s crazy to think about.

JL: When you left school did you have in mind the sort of success that you’ve achieved?

DD: I had that “go out there and see what happens” sort of vibe, but I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t have a business sense to myself, even if it’s a horrible one. So, I guess I wanted to let it be known and have as many people hear my music as possible. I never thought it would be like this though. The idea was- playing a packed house was the goal. Everyday when we set up the gear I always say ‘This is crazy! How is this still happening?’

JL: Why do you think you’re getting such a positive feedback?

DD: I try to put as much of genuine self and personality into the work and I think a lot of people respond to that. I think I’m one of the artists with the least mystique. I don’t think I have any real mystique. I used to think that was a detriment to my career. I’m not really a mystique-having kind of guy. I think so much of the image of rock ‘n’ roll is false things when people are sitting in the back room searching their Twitter and fixing their makeup and getting their tour manager to find the scarf they want. I don’t know. I don’t know. I have zero idea. I think the moment I figure that out is the moment I start my own demise because then I would focus on that and I would taint it and it would ruin it.

JL: What advice would you give your younger self?

DD: Stop eating that. What’re you thinking? Stop eating that.

JL: What is “that?”…wait, I don’t think I want to know.

DD: Anything. Just anything I’ve ever eaten.

JL: Given the chance to have a superpower, what do you pick?

DD: Time travel…or probability travel! If I could get time travel with probability travel that would be great. Probability is like the shift dimension; for every possible outcome there is a [corresponding] universe. I’m not only asking to travel through time, but to travel through the universes. And if I couldn’t get that I’d pick flying.

JL: You have some very attached fans.

DD: I think at the heart people are awesome and they’re amazing, but we live in an insanely homogenized culture where corporate interests try to maximize profits on every level including culture so you find people who may be huge music fans but the only music you ever hear have been decided for them by mainstream media and it comes to a certain age and you’re just not going to engage with weird music anymore. It’s your past, have formulated your tastes your musical ideas so if you were to hear Lightning Bolt or Wolf Eyes it’s just going to sound like shit to you because you’ve heard your whole life this prescribed music or film or art or books but that’s not how it is. And if you think about it, I’m excited about the future because I’ve seen that glass house that idioms are in starting to shatter, so it’s easier for people to discover a band like Animal Collective.

They’re 13-years-old and they’re listening to Justin Beiber and fucking Katy Perry and they’re at the age where they’re just starting to realize that it’s okay to be weird, and they don’t need to pretend to be like everyone else.

That’s the most important age for people to discover music. When I was in high school- When I first heard Mr. Bungle and ska music and The Presidents of the United States of America I was like who are these fucking bands? These guys don’t sound like Aerosmith at all, and it just opened up this whole world. Now I think if me today was on Long Island and I heard Mr. Bungle I could instantly go online and download all of their albums and hear all of their songs and then know they’re in another band called Secret Chiefs 3 and they’re influenced by this crazy Gypsy music, and I just picked 10 years off my musical development and summed it up into a month. Right now some kid can hear Animal Collective and know everything about them. You can go deeper and deeper down the rabbit and hole and I think it’s very exciting, but I’m also nervous about the internet getting homogenized, and turning into another mainstream media. Culture thrives with variance, not homogeny. It needs to have these various outlets and sources or else it falls apart. The reason MTV was no longer relevant was because there was nowhere else to turn or ran away as fast as they can. And that’s the way things are starting to go. The internet in general is something you prescribe to or you ignore. But I’m not part of the formative generation.

 JL: What news sources do you turn to?

DD: I got to  The Huffington Post because I like the way it works on my phone. I go to Mother Jones and Think Progress. I read a lot of disinfo and I like going to a lot of crazy conspiracy sites like Info Wars. Reality Zone is a weird crazy Libertarian site. I don’t really agree with a lot of those sites, but I do like reading them. I like Disinformation a lot. I kinda like the links they have. I guess that’s where I get my information. I get a lot of stuff from Twitter.

JL: When listening to your album, what would you like people to get out of it?

I think ultimately the music is rooted in positivity or celebratory sounds and the euphoria surrounding it, so I’d like them to feel uplifted or empowered; positive in general.

JL: You’ve got some pretty dark lyrics. On the single “True Thrush” you say “It will never turn to gold/and that’s just life…lost there alone/no hand to hold”

The lyrics tend to be dark, but it’s important to not pretend we live in a sugar coated world, or at least beneath the sugar there is salt and bitter, but I don’t’ know. Ultimately, I’d like people to walk away with that feeling of positivity or euphoria. At least allow for the music to create dialogue or a question and not just be celebration for mere sake of celebration.

JL: Awesome video. Who came up with the concept?

DD: It was my concept. I brought it to my friend Ben and we co-directed it together. We actually had another video lined up and the director and I decided it wasn’t going to work. It was going to be a large scale production like a one shot style that would have been out of our budget. So we had something like eight days to make a video and I just brainstormed what could we possibly do eight days on a small budget in my studio…and that’s what we came up with.



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