Summer Vacation with Bradford Cox

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Published October 21, 2009

Atlas Sound is the endearing solo project of Bradford Cox, the lead singer of Deerhunter.  The versatile Athens, Georgia native ranges from visceral ambient rock to wistful folk ballads.  Atlas Sound is currently touring with Broadcast in support of its new album, Logo.  We spoke before his set at the Poisson Rouge, part of the CMJ Marathon, and talked about his new record, devotional music, and the appeal of demo tapes. (PHOTO: DAVID COGGINS)

DAVID COGGINS: What do you want to say about Logos, your new record?

BRADFORD COX: I hope it gives everybody at least one thrill.  Somewhere on the record people can find at least something they like.  

COGGINS: I read that Deerhunter is on hiatus.

COX: That’s not really a big deal, it’s just a Christmas break.  It’s like summer vacation.  

COGGINS: How is it when you make a solo record as opposed to one with a band, which is a more collaborative process?

COX: Well I collaborate a little bit with different aspects of my own mind.  I kick my own ass instead of kicking other people’s asses.

COGGINS: Do you have a self-editing process?

COX: I don’t edit things at all, I let it go. That’s why it’s like a “first take” album.

COGGINS: When you’re writing songs do you–

COX: No. Do I know what I’m doing? Do I know what the lyrics are going to be? Do I know what the context of it is? No. No. No.

COGGINS: You think you know my question: Do you know if it’s going to be an Atlas Sound song or a Deerhunter song?

COX: You did catch me–I did not know your question.  The answer to that is: Yes.  I sit myself down and put myself in a certain zone and then whatever happens automatically happens.  Does that sound pretentious?

COGGINS: Not at all.  I would think a solo project is nice because you can record very quickly, but then I read that you made a Deerhunter record in two days.

COX: I always record fast, man. Why waste tape and time?  

COGGINS: The Atlas Sound Myspace page (which you don’t maintain) says that one of your genres is “religious.” What does that mean in this context-devotional music?

COX: All music is devotional, whether it’s devotion to products, face washes, creams, plastic.  Everybody is devoted to something.

COGGINS: Tonight’s show is a CMJ showcase. How do you feel about the music industry right now?

COX: Every day I feel a little bit differently about it. Sometimes I feel there’s not a safety blanket under me.  Sometimes I feel I’ll have a lot of successes and failures intermittently. One thing I know is that I have a lot of music to give. I feel like if I’m nice and logical and I don’t dick anybody everything will be just fine. I don’t know how the systems are changing. I do know something that’s never changed and that’s the ability to record sound.  How that sound gets out nobody knows.

COGGINS: So you like being able to get your music out quickly?

COX: Yes.  But sometimes if you wait there’s a certain amount of maturation.  

COGGINS: Do you ever go back and listen to something you’ve released and think you could have–

COX: Mixed the drums better?  Yeah.  A lot of times.  

COGGINS: But it’s worth it because when you do something quickly it has a certain energy.

COX: I imitate my heroes mistakes all the time.  If those records were recorded right I would hate the way they sound, like the Fall.  I like a lot of home recorded music-demos, even.  I try to make my records sound like they could be John Lennon’s demos.  I’m ambitious.