The frontman for the stellar hipster rock group Animal Collective, Avey Tare recently released his third solo album, the hypnotic lo-fi epic Eucalyptus. Known best for his band’s genre-bending electro-coustic classic Merriweather Post Pavillion, Tare spoke to High Times from the plains of Wyoming about how drugs, California, and feelings shaped his newest musical creation.
HT: At any point in the creation of Eucalyptus did drugs influence your process?
AT: I smoke weed all the time. I’m a daily smoker. I see nothing wrong with it. I’ve obviously done okay. (laughs) From a young age, I always enjoyed the combination of music and marijuana. And in my teenage years, a combination of music and LSD and mushrooms. But it was more to get inspiration. Or just to be able to listen to other music. I mean, I definitely sit around and write high. But sometimes when I’m making a record, I lay off that stuff.
You have to have a break from it in order for it to work.
Yeah, definitely. Usually we give ourselves time off to make records. So the work gets done, you know, speedily, I guess. (laughs) But in making Eucalyptus, I definitely made sure the vibe was good with marijuana.
How long have you been working on the tracks?
I wrote most of the songs in a period of being around Los Angeles a lot. I had just finished touring with Animal Collective. And I would wake up every day and take some time to sit in my bed. And just – I have a lot of nice light in there – and just play and record everything with a little handheld recorder. Just so I could hold on to the ideas. If some good ones came out. (laughs) So I did that for a year, and simultaneously started orchestrating the songs on my sampler—my octatrack—like little electronic touches. For a lot of the songs, I would start with one piece, and then then see how to progress it from there. So more like it was a longer composition, rather than just a short little song. Then when we started working on the new Animal Collective album [Painting With], I put the songs away. I wasn’t sure if I was going to do anything with them or not. But last year, I was talking to my bandmate Josh and it came up that I had all these songs, kind of, tucked away. And he was like, “Oh man, well, I love working with you, we all have a good time recording together, so why don’t we record it?” I had written a couple more songs the beginning of last year—just to fill out the whole beast. Because the experience of writing the music was so intimate and home-based for me, I wanted the album to have kind of a bedroom-y feeling on the recording. I mean, it was recorded at home.
How does Eucalyptus compare to your previous solo albums?
Eucalyptus is like one day in my life in California. I can fall in love with moments. And they’re special for what they are. But they’re transient. They’re not lasting. So it’s definitely just a frame of mind. I’m an observer and I like observing patterns in nature—how the microcosm is the macrocosm, and how everything relates to each other, and how there are seasons in life. Even just a simple day can be viewed that way. So the album was my attempt at trying to conceptualize that idea. The music focuses on the change of environments and cycles and seasons and how everything fades away, but I based it all off emotions that I have. There are songs on there that are about death and my friends’ passing and my relationships ending and environments ending. I think we are at a time where we run the risk of losing a lot of special places on the planet. I think that really affects me. I feel privileged to have beautiful environments to listen to music in. Often I see colors in the songs—sometimes aided by other substances. And obviously that kind of thing lingers with you. You progress your brain and your imagination with those kind of experiences.