Discovery: Animal Kingdom

Published May 9, 2012

ABOVE: ANIMAL KINGDOM. IMAGE COURTESY OF PIP.

Animal Kingdom is more than just a Disney World day trip and an Australian crime drama. It’s also the name of the UK indie-pop project from Richard Sauberlich, Hamish Crombie, and Geoff Lea, who are in good company: the band’s first album, Signs and Wonders, was recorded by Phil Ek, who’s known for working with Fleet Foxes and The Shins. The trio has supported Vampire Weekend, Snow Patrol, Silversun Pickups and Band of Horses. With their latest album, The Looking Away, Animal Kingdom put together a collection of ethereal indie-pop. Their debut single, “Strange Attractor,” is a catchy, mellow tune that echoes in beauty. Following their album release, the band will be touring throughout the States and will then head back through Europe.

We spoke with lead singer Richard Sauberlich about the break in between their records, wanting to play with Radiohead and producing joy from their music.

HOMETOWN: London, UK

THE TIME BETWEEN FRESHMAN AND SOPHOMORE ALBUMS: It wasn’t so much a break, really. We toured a bit. We had been touring and then we started writing again. We locked ourselves away again. We wrote some material.

CHEMICALLY-DRIVEN SONGS: We were inspired by touring festivals. We wanted to make something that felt euphoric and was a hybrid song. [“Strange Atractor”] is a song about chemicals racing around your bloodstream … a chemical love song.

STICKING WITH A GOOD NAME: We had just been trying to find a band name, which is a lot harder than writing a song. Really, we were just trying to come up with a name that we liked. That seemed to be the one that stuck.

THE PROCESS: It was great—everything that we always hoped recording can be. We worked with a guy who was our favorite producer, David Kosten, who has worked with Bat for Lashes and Everything Everything in the past. Fairly intense but really good fun; we all clicked well with David while recording with him in London. We moved quickly through loads of experimentation and ended up with a mixture of pulling things to pieces and creating stuff from scratch, working with the atmospherics of sounds and taking them away and treating them, turning into loads of exciting tracks.

WHAT THE LOOKING AWAY MEANS: It’s about a certain kind of disconnect and a selective inner tension. Tuning out is a strand that runs through a lot of the songs on the record, which we tried to express in the artwork as well. Someone looking at something that’s not there, a digital fake mirage.

ADVENTURES IN TOURING: We are coming over to the States in the summer, so we’re talking about that now. We’ll be going around pretty much everywhere and we’ll be doing Lollapalooza and Outside Lands. We’ll be seeing the country. Then back to Europe.

MUSICAL CRUSHES: There are lots of people we’d love to tour with. We’re big Radiohead fans. We’d love to play with them. A band called Other Lives, a band that lives around the corner from us, Bombay Bicycle Club. There are lots of bands we’d love to tour with.

ON CHANGING THINGS UP SINCE THEIR DEBUT: The debut contains songs that were written over a 10-year period, which makes for a very different feeling album. This new album is more cohesive; the songs really connect with each other. We also got better using the technology available to us, and our writing has progressed more too. Sonically, it feels a lot more like an album with a strong message, and with David we could get closer to the sounds that were inside our heads.

MAKING THE MOVE FROM COLLEGE TO CAREER: We met at Goldsmiths, an art college in South London. I met Hamish [Crombie] through a mutual friend down there. Hamish then introduced me to Geoff [Lea], who went to school with Hamish and have known each other since they were little. We got to the point were we wanted to go out and listen to a certain type of music so we decided to make it ourselves.

WHAT THEY HOPE FANS WILL TAKE AWAY: Joy. I hope they enjoy it and they like it. That’s a difficult question. A different person will take some insight into a song and listen to it and take something different.

ANIMAL KINGDOM’S SOPHOMORE ALBUM, THE LOOKING AWAY, IS OUT NOW. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.