Interview: Vetiver

One Thirty BPM (Henry Hauser): Lets start off retro-light: Levon, Robbie, Rick, or Garth?

Vetiver (Andy Cabic): Ah, The Band. Rick, because he reaches for those crazy notes and puts his heart and soul into every single thing. That’s what’s so special about The Band: in the course of a song you can feel the weight of magic shift between them in an instant, then dart off in another direction with some authentic verve.

Your liner notes are speckled with star-studded acknowledgments, from Devendra to The Shins. You had the prince of freak-folk play on your debut LP, and that Bobby Charles cover with Fruit Bats’ Eric was really exceptional. Could collaborating with some Sup Pop groups be in your future?

Eric is someone who has toured with us, and I’ve hit the road alone with Devendra as well. I’m sure that could be possible. Eric and I have talked about doing stuff together, and he played on a few Tight Knit tracks, so who knows?

Last three bands you’ve added to your iPod?

Devon Sproule – she played a set with us on a BBC Radio Program called “Loose Ends.” Rising Sun has a great 12’’ techno EP out. Oh, [veteran Japanese pop duo] Dip in the Pool. And Phenomenal Handclap Band’s Quinn Luke is working on remixing some Tight Knit tracks.

What makes for a great venue?

Nice green room, good sound on stage, and an even monitor mix. A house manager that looks enthused that you’ve arrived doesn’t hurt either. I’m not a huge fan of big rooms; I like small stages where everyone can hear each other and develop a more intimate link with the audience. [San Francisco’s] Great American Music Hall, [Milwaukee’s] Pabst Theatre, and [Chicago’s] Lincoln Hall to name a few.

You’ve had Tom Monahan produce all of your albums, and now he’s producing the new Fruit Bats LP Tripper. What gives you guys such great synergy?

I’ve known Tom forever. We’re very close, and I’ve even been to his wedding. We come form the same 90s indie scene, just on different coasts. We’ve got lots in common, so communicating ideas with him is very easy. He’s a really talented engineer that knows how to put a mix together really well. Anything is relatively possible when working with him. We complete each other’s thoughts and it’s rare that we’re not shooting for the same sound or vibe.

I introduced Tom to Eric Johnson when Eric played on a Tight Knit recording session. I think Tom’s input helped Fruit Bats develop a wider pallet of sonic texture and falsetto to cultivate a mongrel, shambolic, vocally-driven soft-rock sound.

On The Errant Charm, your songs arrived in the studio with much still to be developed. It sounds like those spaces were filled by instrumentation and equipment. How did that all play out?

Usually my process is that I pull the record together before I book time with Tom. We talk all the time about how we want the record to sound and what vibes we’re hoping to give off. This time Tom suggested that we connect and put something out. Not necessarily a Vetiver LP – but just get together, hang out, and make music. I brought down a couple of songs I’d finished, and some fragments. Within a couple days, we had a record that hung together. We found some songs that we could refine in the studio, and others that we could form live.