Deerhunter Records New Album in Brooklyn – Rolling Stone
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Deerhunter Records New Album in Brooklyn

Behind the scenes at the indie crew’s late-night sessions

deerhunter in the studio

Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com

Brooklyn's Rare Book Room Studio sits hidden behind a dingy, unmarked door on a side street in Greenpoint. It's a bitterly cold early February night, but inside everything is quite cozy: Producer Nicolas Vernhes, who runs the studio, does his work in a warmly-lit den lined with vintage gear and yellowing books about French film, movie monsters and hard-boiled detectives.

Deerhunter is currently deep into recording its fifth full-length LP here. Frontman Bradford Cox stockpiled upward of 250 potential songs for the new disc; so far he's whittled them down to a strong dozen, including the swaggering rocker "Dream Captain." The Georgia band installed custom mood lighting in the next room for its late-night sessions, which often stretch until 6 a.m. "We're living in neon lights," says Cox. "We bring a fog machine everywhere we go. A lot of what happens is one large experiment with color and light and sound."

Read on for more images from a night in the studio with Deerhunter.

By Simon Vozick-Levinson

deerhunter in the studio

Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com

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Guitarist Lockett Pundt decorates an amp with fluorescent paint while he and the rest of the band wait for Cox to get to the studio. Later, when Cox shows up, the singer momentarily freaks out: "Who did the paint on the amp?" Pundt confesses, and Cox teasingly chastises him. "You're a very bad boy, and you're on restrictions."

deerhunter in the studio

Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com

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Vernhes (seated) works on an early mix of "Dream Captain" with an assistant, cuing up a punchy midtempo backbeat and a wave of bright, scuzzy guitars. "It sounds like Royal Trux," Pundt observes. Finally, Vernhes brings up Cox's recorded vocals: "Dream captain, take me on your ship/I've been feeling like I'm gonna be sick."

deerhunter in the studio

Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com

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Pundt, new bassist Josh McKay and drummer Moses Archuleta (left to right) kill time waiting for Cox. "Okay, I'm going to make some noise," Pundt says a few minutes later, and drags an amp to the middle of the room. He tunes up his guitar and plays a few long, screaming notes that might or might not end up on a new song called "Pensacola."

deerhunter in the studio

Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com

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Cox arrives around 7:30 p.m. carrying several huge plastic bags stuffed full of clothes and accessories. "I went shopping!" the singer announces, explaining that he just got back from a store on Manhattan's Canal Street. He begins showing his purchases to the rest of the band. "Someone is wearing this fucking hat," he insists.

deerhunter in the studio

Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com

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Cox starts pulling African-print scarves and shawls out of his shopping bags like a magician. He throws them at Pundt (right) and the other bandmates, chatting excitedly about each new purchase.

deerhunter in the studio

Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com

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After some time, Cox reveals the purpose of his shopping trip: He wants the band to dress up in costume for a teaser video that Deerhunter's record label will release to build buzz about the album. He lines up new guitarist Frankie Broyles, McKay and Pundt while a camera crew sets up, and enlists a manager and an assistant to hold many-colored neon lights around the band.

deerhunter in the studio

Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com

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Archuleta (center) holds up a pink neon fixture like a light saber while the other bandmates keep their pose. Cox kick-starts a fog machine, and the studio begins to fill with misty smoke.

deerhunter in the studio

Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com

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"I'd like to play a cassette," says Cox. He fishes a portable tape player out of his bag and hits play. A droning lo-fi recording with heavily distorted vocals sets an atmospheric vibe: "You may go/You may stay/But you'll come back, some sweet day."

deerhunter in the studio

Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com

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Cox takes some test shots. "I like to collect things I find stimulating," he says. "Color, fabrics, light . . . That's the best thing about my life. I get to try things out."

deerhunter in the studio

Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com

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Cox examines some preliminary video footage with a cameraman. "I did my work, for the past two years," he says, referring to the lengthy songwriting/incubation period before the band re-entered the studio. "Now I'm being a little freeform. I'm showing up late and lighting incense and watching Law & Order."

deerhunter in the studio

Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com

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Cox dodges questions about the sound of Deerhunter's new material, but he's more than happy to cite influences. "Last night, I listened to Steve Reich until 7 in the morning," he says. Later, he adds: "The only thing that Lockett and I listened to before making this record was the Ramones and Ricky Nelson. And Pierre Schaeffer. And Bo Diddley! He's the god of this record. But I don't think there's a single Bo Diddley beat on the album."

deerhunter in the studio

Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com

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Cox hops into the shot for the final take. "We're living this record right now," he says. "When we go back to our hotel rooms, it's, like, Aztec carpets. There's primitive charts taped up."

deerhunter in the studio

Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com

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Cox speaks with a Rolling Stone writer. "It's a nocturnal garage record," he says of the album-in-progress. "I'll tell you this. It's a very avant-garde rock & roll record."

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