It’s hard to create your own lane in rock music. With bands constantly attempting to reinvent the wheel, Deerhunter proves that the best strategy of attack is still unbridled enthusiasm, coupled with a genuine love for the craft. They have applied their “no-bullshit” mantra to their stage antics, recording process, and even the way they live life. Able to meander between driving melody and ghostly harmony while maintaining a constant subdued grittiness, Deerhunter bangs out progressive and thought-provoking rock, without sounding forced or self-indulgent. Format caught up with drummer Moses Archuleta to discuss good music, abstraction, and Southern rappers.

“Any song that has started with me, has started from a pretty abstract place, which [the band] will then collaborate on.”

Format: Deerhunter has had a very tumultuous history, filled with robbery, death, and disagreement. How is the air around the band right now?
Moses: Everything’s cool, we’re laughing and stuff. All that tumultuous stuff you were talking about, well, it all blends in after a while. I think other people notice more than we do [laughs]. You know when you’re at a show and there’s a ton of feedback, and then people stop caring after a while? Like that, kind of like white noise.

Format: How do you guys feel about the recent leak of your new album, Microcastle?
Moses: It’s hard to say; I don’t really know, as I don’t use a computer much. We wanted it to come out at a certain time, and it was like someone went ahead and ruined a surprise birthday party. We’re still happy about it, but our happiness has been diminished.

Format: How does your new release differ from your last LP, Cryptograms?
Moses: It was made under different circumstances. We made a lot of Cryptograms together, while we were touring, etc. About the time we started working on Microcastle we were apart a lot. It affected how it got made; we spent less time with it, whereas we expanded a lot on Cryptograms.

Format: You’ve had some interesting stagemates over the years, including Nine Inch Nails and Project Pat. Who has been your personal favorite to work with?
Moses: Hmm, that’s really hard. It depends what kind of mood you’re in I guess. Everyone we’ve ever got the chance to play with has been awesome. We’ve probably spent the most time around Liars, though.

Format: Which crowd has been most receptive to your style?
Moses: [Pause] I could tell you who the least receptive crowd is – probably Nine Inch Nails. I’d say their reaction was that of polite indifference [laughs]. It is what it is, though. I’d say that the people that are in my age bracket [early – mid twenties] are a little more ambivalent to the band.

Format: Back to Project Pat for a second; you guys are from Atlanta. Do you have an affinity for Southern rap, or was it just a coincidence that you guys were booked together?
Moses: Oh, it was totally exciting. It was a coincidence though. We only got to see him for a second. We had to leave early to catch a flight, and he was late. You know how rap shows are. My ex-roommate had something she wanted him to sign. [Pat’s] a big guy – really tall. It was awesome though, because we’re really familiar with all that stuff, being from that part of the country.

Format: Deerhunter has an incredibly unique sound, at once driving and nuanced. Is this something that comes naturally, or do you strive to build on it?
Moses: I think it comes together pretty naturally. A lot of times there are things that we do strive for, and they don’t work. A lot of times we work alone, and then things just naturally fall into place.

Format: Being the “percussion-and-synthesizer” of the group, what do you seek to contribute to each track?
Moses: I’m not a very good recordist; I don’t have much of a background, unlike the other guys. I probably bring up a lot more abstract ideas than anyone else in the group. I tend to articulate things through abstract sounds, or drums [laughs]. Any song that has started with me, has started from a pretty abstract place, which [the band] will then collaborate on.

Format: Let’s talk about [lead singer] Bradford Cox’s on-stage attire for a second. He has worn sundresses and smeared fake blood on his face, stating that regular clothes seem “anti-climactic.” Does the rest of the band have any rituals, mantras, or quirks that we should know about?
Moses: A lot of drinking [laughs]. That’s the only thing I can really think of. Yeah, drinking.

Format: What would you like to hear more of in rock music?
Moses: More often than not, just writing really good songs. A band that I really like right now is Crystal Stilts. They really influenced us, and [their style is] completely unavoidable, but they write such good songs that it really doesn’t matter.

Format: What would you like to hear less of?
Moses: I’ve never been a fan of politics in rock. It makes me uncomfortable; I feel like it attracts a lot of controversy. At the end of the day, you’re just listening to music. What it boils down to, is that people should not be taking themselves so seriously. When people are too serious like that, it can take you out of it.

Format: Thanks so much for your time. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Moses: Nope, that about covers it, thanks. We’re just starting a North American tour though, so stay on the lookout for that.

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Andrew Rennie

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