Several months ahead of Halloween and a troublesome terror is already lurking in the streets. Three masked, bloodthirsty musicians have joined forces to wreak havoc. Going by the name Slasher Flicks, think of them as a modern day, instrument-wielding Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Chucky the doll.
Their pasts hint at more innocent times. Dave Portner aka Avey Tare (vocals / guitars) had honeymoon years in Animal Collective. Now he’s a different, twisted soul. Angel Deradoorian (multi-instrumentalist) is a former member of Dirty Projectors. She’s also taken a sinister turn. And Jeremy Hyman, on drums? He’s always been a devil. Be it thrashing away for Ponytail or giving the killer punch to Slasher Flicks’ murderous charge, he was made for this stuff.
That’s the story of Dave’s new band, formed in April of 2013 on the back of a perfectly polite dinner conversation the month before. They swiftly got together and started practicing for a Deerhunter-curated ATP event. But by this point the very concept and music to match “Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks” had been firmly put together, in Portner’s head at least.
2012 and 2013 were difficult years for the often-gleeful, hyperactive Animal Collective frontman. He describes a time when he was “dealing with a lot of stuff psychologically.” Previous solo album ‘Down There’ was a purposefully murky, “swampy” record, in part defined by his separation from Kría Brekkan, of múm. Slasher Flicks - for all its horror fest background - is in actual fact a source of fun and positivity. This is Avey’s happy record, even if it came from the now LA-residing musician having to “purposefully” go down that route.
Angel and Avey are a couple, both living together. Working on the same project has “always been a possibility,” Avey says. “It’s just we’ve never done it before - and being familiar with her style of playing, it seemed like an obvious thing to do.” Hyman on the other hand wasn’t as much of a familiar figure. “It’s really the first time I’ve asked somebody to play music with me that I didn’t have a long-time relationship with already - but when I started writing these songs and figuring out the wild nature of them it came into my head. He was someone that would be awesome to play them with.”
Initial practice sessions were “really fun”. There was “no giant hurdle” for any of them to jump over, even though “we all come from very different musical situations.” What’s clear in the band’s first ‘Enter The Slasher House’ record is that this is overwhelming Avey’s project. The songs were written before the band properly formed. An exercise in positivity, they range from the cutesy single ‘Little Fang’ to the relentless charge of ‘Blind Babe’. There’s nothing all that terrifying about the songs. Avey equates them to a “haunted house” ride, the kind “kids would go on at fairs or carnivals.” Slasher Flicks as a name isn’t some great, grizzly ode to gore. It’s primarily because he liked the sound of the name. “I’m not trying to be funny or anything like that. I’m not trying to scare people!”
Avey’s love of slasher films (“I almost see them as visual art; the good ones”) ties only very loosely into the project itself. The energy of the record matches up to the thrill of being slowly steered round a pitch-black, hairs-on-end monster ride. But that’s the sum of the comparison. “ I don’t even find most of the record to be that dark,” he admits. “The songwriting process was more about being positive and trying to get over being sick. I wanted to work it out through music.”
‘Enter The Slasher House’ is defined by a couple of things. In part, it’s an extension from Animal Collective’s 2005 record ‘Feels’. Songs are light and fluffy to begin with, before devilishly morphing into chest-thumping, pounding giants. That’s due to a second factor, the live energy of it all. “I really want to capture the energy of playing together,” declares Avey. “When I was thinking about how to make a different sounding record - especially to my last solo one - it just made sense to have a band play the songs and have the production and the sound of it come from the players playing off of each other.”
These three musicians, playing for the first time, can practically be heard bouncing off the walls. There’s a freshness and excitement of exploring new territory. Songs sound unnervingly familiar, but due to Avey’s love of quirky “sound collages” and this new desire to “try something different”, it’s like nothing he’s put his name to before.
It’s given Avey, Angel and Jeremy a new taste; a thirst for blood that might not stop short at this debut. When they arrived last year they gave little to no information, only the statement that they were a “murderous cannibalistic band”. Since forming, the project’s gained momentum. These killers have picked up a new sense of purpose. Just about anybody is capable of being the Slasher Flicks’ next victim.
Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks’ ‘Enter The Slasher House’ is out now on Domino.
Taken from the new, free DIY Weekly, available to read online, download on Android via Google Play, or download on iPad now.
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