Shoegaze, viagra or dream pop as it’s sometimes known, view is ethereal, sildenafil breezy and ponderous, an ocean of noise that you can get lost in whilst grappling with life’s existential questions. Black Metal, on the other hand, is harsh, aggressive and oftentimes a downright brutal experience. On last year’s Sunbather (Both the albums title and cover seem better suited to Best Coast), San Francisco band Deafheaven matched the reverb and highly charged emotional music of Slowdive and Mogwai, with the blast beats and tortured screaming akin to Bathory and Darkthrone. Surprisingly, the album received a lot of attention from mainstream publications, and almost all of it was overwhelming positive. We sat down with vocalist George Clarke just before the bands recent performance in Whelans.
So how have you been finding Ireland so far? This is your second time here?
Yeah it’s our second time, we came in 2012 with Russian Circles. This is our first time as a headliner, it’s been good. I mean we’ve had a lot of fun, people here have always been really accommodating.
Its close to capacity downstairs, so have the crowds been particularly responsive on this tour?
Yeah. I mean we’ve done a lot of festivals on this tour, so those crowds have been particularly large but for all our club shows things have been really responsive. UK and Ireland have always been really responsive to us and some of our biggest shows have been in the past week, which is great. I’m glad that tonight is busy.
Would you say that your recent popularity is directly related to Sunbather?
While I think the record definitely had a lot to do with it, I think that our work ethic had a lot to do with it. We tour a lot, especially this year. I attribute it to both. I think that it’s equal part response to the record and the strength of our live show.
The record did a lot last year. Not just within the metal or the shoegaze community, but a lot of mainstream publications, the likes of Spin, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone etc, all responded. Was that expected at all?
No not at all. I mean you never know if that’s going to happen. I was pretty surprised by a lot of the reaction, but it was a nice surprise. It’s cool that people gave it a chance, that’s all you can really ask for. There’s so much must that just doesn’t get to that level and doesn’t get to be noticed. We didn’t expect it, but we’re really happy about it.
There was, particularly in the metal community, a bit of a backlash. The word “hipster” was being used quite a bit, what’s your take on that?
I don’t really have one. People will get offended when their favourite bands record isn’t recognised, but that bands did, and they feel they have to combat it or they might feel threatened or something, I’m not really sure. If our record came out and nobody noticed, no one would care, but now that it has its because of the album cover, or its because of how we are as people or what we look like, all these other equations come into play that disregard the music. I think all that’s kind of foolish. I recognise that there was a bit of a backlash amongst certain groups of people, but you cant really waste your time thinking about that.
Heavy Metal seems to be particularly conservative, musically, with regards to other elements being brought into the mix.
I think so, people like what’s there. Within the metal scene, people can be very orthodox, they like things as is, and we don’t really fit that mould. I do think though that the good outweighs the bad.
Is there a feeling among some fans that the mainstream is invading or stepping on the underground?
I don’t think anything is being invaded or being stepped on. Thking about music in those terms is never a good thing; music should be enjoyed by anyone on its own terms. Looking at it in other terms isn’t really getting the point.
Looking at the music, you incorporate a lot of post rock and shoegaze elements, on Sunbather, was that the goal since you started Deafheaven?
It was yeah. Since our demo we’ve always wanted to incorporate those types of styles. Post rocks always been a influence on us as a band, I think maybe we’ve just gotten better at into incorporating it into the metal aspect.
Those genres seem quite disparate
We just liked both and thought they worked together well, and we where influenced by bands we thought had done the same thing and developed our own take on it.
I believe this is the last show on the European tour, can we expect any new material soon? I know you have single out soon.
We’ve just started to play that song live. Its coming out on Friday actually, I was listening to the final mix today and I’m very excited. We plan to do a bit more touring later this year, and then hopefully focus on a new record. Hopefully 2015 will be a good year.
Would a new record have similar themes and ideas as Sunbather?
I honestly have no idea. We have little pieces of songs but as far as the overall vision is concerned I’m not sure. We’ve definitely found our sound and we defiantly want to incorporate new elements, but we still want to sound like us. Except maybe better.
Sunbather almost felt like it had a running story though it, and in other interviews you’ve alluded to witnessing a sunbather, and building the album around the thoughts that emerged around then. Can we expect this on future releases?
Well there’s definitely re-occurring themes on Sunbather, both musically and lyrically, and when we sequenced the record we wanted it to have an ebb and flow. You know, like peaks and valleys. A lot of that is just being mindful of how you want the record to sound. We write music for albums, and I think and album should be one whole album, not a collection of singles. There should always been a nice flow to it. I think we’ll continue to write music this way. We always have, and hopefully we’re getting better at it.