ANIMAL COLLECTIVE with DAN DEACON at the Danforth Music Hall (147 Danforth), Saturday (March 9), doors 7 pm. $25-$27.50. HS, RT, SS, TF, TM. See listings.
After the release of Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2009, things got a little strange for Baltimore-rooted experimentalists Animal Collective.
"Merriweather had such an impact [on us] because a few songs, like My Girls and Brother Sport, got people to come out to shows, and that had never happened to us before," says Josh Dibb, who was on sabbatical during its recording.
AnCo felt the effect of this higher profile while prepping to release their ninth album, Centipede Hz (Domino), last September. Suddenly, Dibb's return to the fold as well as the band's habit of leaving identifiable songs out of their set lists, began provoking scrutiny and speculation.
One thing is clear: Animal Collective do what they want. They've known each other and played together since the 90s and have had an open-door policy from the start: before Merriweather, there were just two records in a row that all four members were on.
"Honestly, before we even put out the first thing that was considered an Animal Collective record, we didn't want to feel like we were bound to roles like ‘You're the drummer, he's the singer,'" explains Dibb. "We knew it would get old really fast. That's essential to how we operate, and I think we would've broken up a long time ago if we'd felt like ‘If it's not the four of us we can't do this.'"
Though they live in L.A., Lisbon and New York City, the four decamped to Baltimore to record Centipede Hz, a careening, messy record conceived in part to get the band and their audience to cut loose again.
"This record had a very rugged sci-fi feeling to it, and a lot of it, at least initially, came out of wanting the music to feel a certain way live - that sweatiness," says Dibb.
He says they threw around cinematic imagery to inject certain moods into songs: the playfulness of a 50s sock hop or the heart-racing feeling of a mine car reeling off the tracks in the pitch dark.
"In the past it was okay to have two people thinking about the same thing in entirely different ways, but with this record we wanted to be more specific."