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Bradford Cox Talks Nervous Breakdown, New Atlas Sound Album

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Is that why you worked with the photographer Mick Rock for the cover of Parallax? He worked with David Bowie on similar themes.
I really don't mean to play up the Bowie thing. Because I'm not Bowie. I mean, I relate to a lot of the anxiety I think Bowie went through as a person. But Bowie was a very sexual and very… I'm not that.

There's a similar resonance between what you're projecting on this record and the Bowie of The Man Who Fell to Earth.
Yeah, that's exactly what the record is. I mean it is. I guess it's my revision of that mythos. With my own bullshit emotional baggage shoved in there.

Are you working on a new record right now?
I'm writing for the next Deerhunter record. I'm trying to. I've got a lot of personal stuff that's absorbed all of my consciousness. Specifically, a personal thing. A confusion. A confusion!

When you go through periods like this where you're just kind of absorbed in a personal thing, how does that effect your writing?
Well, I never have before. I've been nothing but the guy on stage that you see on the Internet. I think everything started to happen when I was in Australia and gave an interview on the radio and they filmed it and I was just going through a really hard time. And then everybody made fun of me and was like, "Oh, look at this whiney cocksucker."

What were you talking about in that interview?
Being unsatisfied and maybe I was trying to talk about being lonely or something. They made it out that I was some whiney rock star. My incredibly glamorous life is not enough to keep me from whining. You know, people say "Man, I'd kill to be doing what he's doing, and he's complaining?" I'm so grateful for all the things I get to do. I'm very happy with whatever amount of success I've had. But it doesn't keep you warm at night. And, I started to get really worn down. And then they say, "You've got to do more, you've got to go here, you've got to go there. Be ready to get picked up at the airport tomorrow."

It's all about parallax, man. Five years for one person is 20 for another, you know? It's like, if a car is coming towards you down a highway and you're going towards it, it's like this distortion of how fast things go by. And I guess my time as a musician has gone by so fast that I realized that I have no personal life. The other guys in Deerhunter, they all found things. And I just have monomania. I always will. I'm obsessive about one thing, that there's one thing that's going to make me happy and it's making music, or there's one thing that's going to make me happy and it's this person. The music seemed to be the one thing that kept me going and then I was just bound to have this nervous breakdown. And it wasn't super-dramatic, like in some sort of typical, rock star way or something. It was more pathetic and I sort of had a nervous breakdown in this hotel lobby in London.

After Parallax was recorded, I was forced to go back and do more Deerhunter shows. And I didn't want to, necessarily, because my mind was in the zone of the new songs. And I had to go back to the Halcyon Digest and Deerhunter songs. There's nothing in the world I love more than my family, my brothers, the band, the Deerhunter boys. They are absolutely my family. I've already been around the planet, like, three time, this year. It's great for frequent flier miles, but it's hard on the mind and body, and I just lost it. And when you don't have someone to call at home. I mean, your mom and your dad, your family is one thing. But it's not the same. When you don't feel like there's somebody that misses you. I am the man that fell to earth in some ways. I don't have a connection to anyone, besides my family, who love me very much.

Do you think maybe that you're getting something out of performing that's kind of a substitute for what you might not be getting from a particular person?
Absolutely. Yes. For sure. Completely. But it doesn't work. I wouldn't give it up for anybody. I'll be lonely for the rest of my life if I have to. This sounds so fucking 1972 or some shit, but I would sacrifice my own needs for rock and roll. Because I believe in it, and I don't care what that sounds like. If it sounds like a pretense or some sort of megalomania or some fucking nonsense rock cliché – if you know what it feels like, you'll understand, and if you don't, you can write me off, because I don't really give a fuck. But anyone who knows what it's like to be naked in front of thousands of people and, like, go into a trance. I go into such trances that I've busted my teeth out onstage, shoving a microphone into my mouth. And I didn't feel anything. It's intense. 

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Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

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