Dan Deacon: The Avant-Garde Pop Artist Feels "Out of Place" Everywhere He Goes
Dan Deacon's dentist must love him.
When I called and spoke with Dan Deacon earlier this month, he was in the middle of his tour and didn't know where he was (he guessed somewhere between Georgia and North Carolina). Deacon, who is known for many weird side projects and his bizarre, experimental music, has become a popular figure in the indie music scene with avant-garde electronic albums like Bromst and Spiderman of the Rings. His latest album, America, is split in half, with poppy songs like "True Thrush" and the other half is an instrumental ode to the ambiguity of this beautiful nation and it's darker political climate.
But Deacon is also filled with a healthy amount of humility, making him one of the most thoughtful people I've ever interviewed. His perspective is both insightful and refreshing. We didn't have space for the whole thing in this week's issue (out Thursday), but we've got the whole thing here on Up on the Sun.
Up On The Sun: So I heard your van runs on vegetable oil. Did you know the band OFF! was arrested for stealing cooking oil in Phoenix? So just be careful.
Dan Deacon: Stealing is a strong word for that. We tend to source it beforehand. We know the "spots." But it's getting harder and harder as people try to comodify it.
I love the title of your newest album [America] and what you've said about it, because I totally feel like that, too, that strange paradox of disenchantment and affection. Do you think the future for America is optimistic?
I don't know. If we stay on our current path, no, I don't think so. I think people need to grasp a hold of their reality. It's sort of what the record is about, it's me trying to get a grip on my own reality and my status in the world. I can't pretend I'm not a part of it. I think that's ultimately what the record is about. In regards to the rest of the country, yeah, I think people need to realize the system sucks because we allow it to.
Do you think people will realize that?
I don't know. I hope so. I wouldn't say I'm optimistic for it. But I think more and more, if you look at things like Occupy or even the Tea Party, more and more people are getting frustrated and voicing their opinions and that's ultimately what's important. A dialogue between the people of a country or culture and the problem they have with it. Even if I don't agree with their opinions, it's important.
We live in such diverse culture, to voice opinions and to have the opinions of many be expressed. I think that's the turning point because I think people are growing frustrated enough to not just vocalize their complaints but actualize their complaints.
Are you still hoping for the end of the world?
Nope. [Laughs] I don't know. It depends on what you mean by the end of the world.
Um, nuclear apocalypse. How about that one?
No, I would never vouch for a nuclear apocalypse. It would be terrible.
[laughs] I have apocalyptic fantasies because I think it's ingrained in most Catholic heads. The culmination of that religion... I don't want to talk about religion. I'd rather there be a paradigm shift in consciousness than an apocalypse.
What's your favorite apocalypse scenario?
Heat death. Heat death is when the universe reaches total entropy. There is no longer heat.
That was in an Asimov story. It was called ["The Last Question"]. It was about a computer they built to solve the problem of heat death and it lasted for billions of years trying to figure out the problem. By then, heat death happened and the computer solved the problem and it said "Let there be light."
[Long, awkward pause.] Bum bum ba!
Every part of your musical identity is thought out from your triptastic music videos to your Vantastic van to your beard to your broken glasses. Do you consider yourself to be a really thoughtful guy or does all this insanity come spontaneously?
I like to put thoughts into the works that I do. I don't know if my beard really has thought, it just grows out of my face. I shave it whenever I cut my hair. There is a lot of spontaneity in the work. I think I work best under pressure.
Do you have a lot of pressure and deadlines?
I tend to put too much on my plate in all situations in my life. I take on a lot of projects or responsibilities and I like to make things logistically infeasible for some insane, sadistic reason.