Q&A: Deafheaven

As an avid reader of LA CANVAS (as I know you must be), I am sure you are familiar with the vastness of our colloquial music taste here at the Clubhouse. Everything from the latest indie rock, to our hip-hop fan boys, we cover it all—and in this case, we’d like to add black metal to the mix (surprise!).

Hailing from San Francisco, Deafheaven was founded by singer George Clarke and guitarist Kerry McCoy. They started off as duo which shortly there after became the full 5 piece that you see before you today. Reigning influences from various genres and formats within the umbrella of “metal”, the band has created a unique sound that is absolutely identifiable to only them. Sometime during their 2011-2012 tour, I had the chance to catch the guys in one of my personal favorite intimate concert settings: the basement of a punk house in the Northside of Chicago named The Albion House, and it was there where I experienced what I’d refer to as a musical epiphany. Either it was the cold winter night, lack of breathable air (this basement probably fit about 50 people, in a space meant for 20), the copious amounts of alcohol consumed from 40oz’s in paper bags or a true musical moment where the crowd really felt what was happening right in front of their eyes. I am pleased to say it was the latter situation (with maybe a little of the other mixed in).

From that point forward, Deafheaven’s music has drawn the jaws of spectators downwards into utter silence after each song as they flow seamlessly together, such as a classical masterpiece made up of a multitude of movements. The methodological build up and flow of each individual song provides not songs that you can “sing along” to, but songs that are genuinely amazing to listen to in themselves.

Albion House
Albion House

Fast-forward: 2 years later to 2013, the band put out their most recent album titled Sunbather. Gaining critical reviews from the likes of SPIN and Rolling Stone and general world-wide acclaim, the band has become a true example of how the hustle pays off. From the muggy and overpacked basement in Chicago to rocking the stage at FYF Fest, the band doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. During the festival, I had the chance to sit down with the band and talk shop prior to their big performance:

LA CANVAS: You guys have come a long way over the past couple years, I remember the first time I saw you guys was in a squatter house basement in Chicago.

ALL OF THEM: Oh yeah! The Albion House!

LAC: Yeah! So from there, now you are playing FYF, how does that feel?

KERRY MCCOY: It feels great, I think it has a lot to do with a lot of hard work, and non stop touring and a good healthy portion of luck.

GEORGE CLARKE: Yeah, lots of luck, definitely a lot of hard work. We’re a touring band, we do this consistently, and I think we are very mindful of our musical direction and I think if you invest enough care into it, things will sort of fall into place, with luck aside.

LAC: Did you guys think when you started that you would follow through with this genre which I see to be a mix between the melodic and metal styles?

 “Lets throw this Morbid Angel influence part in here or this Radiohead influence part in here” then we all kind of just sit there and bang our heads against the wall for a couple days.

GC: The original idea years and years ago when Kerry and I were first toying around with the idea was sort of our take on post-black metal. Since then, I think our sound has evolved a lot. I wouldn’t call us that nowadays, I think that we still have that influence a lot, but we have expanded in different directions, and at this point I really know exactly what to call it, but I still feel that we are somewhat in that family that we started out originally wanting to be a part of.

LAC: With Sunbather coming out last year and being rated as one of the top metal albums of 2013, what kind of successes have you guys seen from that?

GC: I think we mostly just had a variety of people in the crowds, people you wouldn’t see before, that maybe found out about us through Rolling Stone or SPIN, or more mainstream avenues such as that. So I think seeing people that normally wouldn’t have access to that style of music.

KM: The shows have been doing really well.

GC: The shows have been going better, more interesting, more variety.

LAC: Awesome, so being that you guys are from California, I take it you guys have been to LA more than a few times now. What are some of the things you like to do while you have free time

KM: Well, George and I live here now, so most of the stuff I do while we’re not on tour is go to Cha Cha a lot, go to Brite Spot and Alcove a lot,

GC: Good food and good drinks.

STEPHAN LEE CLARK: I like going to Hollywood Amoeba, place is huge hah, so many records there.

GC: Plus our manager, lives here, so we always have a home base to hang out at.

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KM: Usually when we are at home, or when in LA, which I consider to be a second home from San Francisco for the most of us, It’s just a time to relax and enjoy friends and people that we’ve gained relationships here. Nothing really out of the ordinary, just hanging.

LAC: Just to kind of wrap up, being that, at least in my opinion, your music is extremely complex and intricate, what are some of the things that go into your writing process when you guys are deciding your future tracks?

KM: It used to be me and George sitting down and working on riffs and lyrics together and bringing them to Dan. Now that we have a full band, all of us get into a room and bring various riffs to the table and get a general idea of what we are going for, i.e. “lets throw this Morbid Angel influence part in here or this Radiohead influence part in here” then we all kind of just sit there and bang our heads against the wall for a couple days. Then eventually we put it all together, and George puts his spin on that. It’s a very collaborative thing now, so a lot of heads just putting in as much as they can to get this weird product out of it all essentially.

SLC: It’s oddly very fluid

DAN TRACY: Probably from the constant touring and playing together every night for a year straight it’s easy for us to gel, and flesh songs out. We’re Cosmically in-tune.

 Purchase/listen to Sunbather digitally here or pick up a vinyl copy at your favorite local record haunt.

NOT YOUR AVERAGE PUSSY CAT: CUDDLE UP WITH KITTEN

Kitten (the band, not the furry felines) is a Los Angeles-based indie band whose self-titled debut album just dropped in late June. Fronted by Chloe Chaidez (she’s only 19!), Kitten has been making waves opening for bands such as No Doubt and Paramore. This past week, Chloe did an acoustic set at Amoeba Records in Hollywood and blew us all away with her powerful vocals and purrrfect guitar skills. Their album features songs from their past two EPs, Cut It Out and Like a Stranger and the songs offer an old school 90’s and synthpop sound to make you feel all fuzzy inside. Here’s to music yet again. Meow.

21 QUESTIONS: SHARKMUFFIN

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In the midst of the neverending search for all things girl-band related, along came Sharkmuffin. They are a little riot grrrl, a little lo-fi, and a whole lot of badass. With song titles like, “Mermaid Sex Slave,” how can you not already tell this band goes hard, and by hard I mean beautifully rough guitar riffs, and passionate vocals that scream and crack – everything you want from a group of noisy pop Brooklyn musicians.

Sadly, the trio is a little far from the west coast, but we were able to get 21 questions answered by Tarra Theisson, the bands singer, before she hopes on a train to the Jersey Shore. Batman sheets were involved, and not fist pumps, fortunately.

So, what’s up? I’m sitting on the stairs at penn station waiting to catch a train to the Jersey Shore to visit my family since it’s my half birthday tomorrow. Half birthdays are very important.

Can we get you something to drink? Yes, please. Last time I was at Penn Station this early I made myself a mimosa but their individual plastic wines are so pricey.

What are you wearing? Black shorts and a sweater with some spikes on it.

Do anything last night? Went to some weird party at the knitting factory, had band practice at midnight and then watched cartoons with my boyfriend.

How late did you stay up? Til Like 4 or 7am.

Meals or snacks? Meals.

 If life could resemble any film… Something in between The Holy Mountain and Almost Famous.

The fashion moment you most regret…Wearing shorts that had a hole right over my butthole and I didn’t realize it.

Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party? Courtney Love.

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What is your greatest extravagance? Champagne and guitar pedals.

Who’s your biggest fan? My grandma.

Who would you hire to write your theme song? Greer of The Mallard.

Blue or black ink? Black.

Ever sit down in the shower? Yes, back when my bathroom was bigger than a closet.

What’s the story behind your name? A Sharkmuffin is an intelligent young lady who goes after older men without any malicious financial intent. Sort of like the relationship between Audrey Horne and Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks. It also could be a cute woman who is especially good at playing pool at bars.

What was the first thing you said aloud this morning? “Whatever, man…”

Are you listening to music right now? Judy Nylon’s cover of “Jailhouse Rock.”

If we gave you $50, what would you buy? Some records.

Last three google searches…Desert Island Comics hours, surfer dream meaning, Daenerys Targaryen

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Craziest road trip/tour story? Our original drummer Drew had quite the temper and when we were in Tennessee driving back from SXSW this passed March one of our tour mates in Haybaby threw a banana peel in the trash can labeled ‘lottery trash,’ at some gas station and a redneck drinking beer behind this gas station at 3pm started yelling at him, so Drew got up in his face and was like “what’re are ya, the sheriff?” and it continued to escalate from there. At one point before we sped off, since the plates on our sprinter van were from Jersey he was screaming shit like “go back to jerzzayy ya punks!” in the best angry drunk southern accent ever.

What are you doing later? Maybe going to a boardwalk psychic and making my mom buy me some new Batman sheets.

Can we come? Yea! The psychic in Asbury Parks’ late grandma told Bruce Springsteen he’d be famous back in the day, so I’m sure she knows her shit.