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DeafheavenRobin Laananen

Deafheaven Frontman George Clarke Explains The Band’s Decision To Shift Away From Metal


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As evidenced on the first two singles from Deafheaven‘s new album “Infinite Granite“, the group have undergone a sizable melodic evolution, considerably distancing themselves from their heavier roots. In a new interview with Pitchfork, frontman George Clarke commented on how they arrived there:

“…It was all an attempt to be as maximum as possible so people didn’t feel that they were lacking in a listening experience just because the vocals had changed so dramatically. My singing on earlier records was really haphazard. This felt a lot more calculated. I don’t view myself as a natural singer at all. It has taken a lot of work. It’s funny, even though I’m not using my voice in nearly as extreme a way as I usually do, I would often be exhausted at the end of the day. It was like learning a different instrument. It made the whole thing a lot more fun, to be honest with you.

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Maybe around [2015’s] ‘New Bermuda‘, I felt like everyone was expanding on their instrument and getting better at what they were doing. And in certain ways I was as well, but there’s a part of me that’s always felt like the weak musical link. I wanted to bring more to the table—and also to service the lyrics differently.

It’s interesting for the song that we put out [‘Great Mass Of Color‘], so many people have been commenting to me about the lyrics, which is very kind. It’s something I didn’t get a lot of before even though I’ve taken the same amount of time on those lyrics. It’s just that the delivery is so much friendlier. There are all these little things that are personally satisfying about the switch, and that personal satisfaction was the reason we did it in the first place, you know?”

It was later pointed out that metal bands are rarely able to drastically reinvent themselves without severe criticism, he replied:

“…We were joking the whole time about wanting this to be our ‘Kid A‘ [Radiohead album], where we filter our own sound through a different medium—because I still think that that record sounds like them as much as this record still sounds like us.

And then we looked at bands like Cave In or AFI who made major label jumps and stylistic changes and what that meant for them—how we feel about it now and how we felt about it at the time. Those are conversations that we had, but there is no specific model.

Even with ‘Kid A‘, bringing up that record while making your own is more a tool to just give yourself confidence, knowing that someone somewhere did this before. And perhaps it’s not out of the realm that you could try something that’s a bit of a 180 and not have it sink you.”

While Clarke‘s primarily clean sun vocals will certainly be a focal point of “Infinite Granite“, it was not just him leading the band into new territory. He said the shift in direction began to emerge during early writing sessions back in the summer of 2019, offering:

“…During the writing process, we noticed that the riffs weren’t amping up into metallic sections—and everyone was okay with it. It wouldn’t have made sense to make a different record, or it would have been very ham-fisted.”

You can find more from Clarke over at Pitchfork. “Infinite Granite” will be out August 20th on Sargent House and the group have the following touring lined up in support of it:

10/15 Berkeley, CA – The UC Theatre
10/16 Los Angeles, CA – The Theatre at Ace Hotel
02/22 Phoenix, AZ – Pressroom
02/23 Santa Fe, NM – Meow Wolf
02/25 Fort Worth, TX – Tulips
02/26 Austin, TX – Mohawk
02/27 Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall
03/01 Tampa, FL – The Orpheum
03/02 Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade (Hell)
03/03 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
03/04 Richmond, VA – The Broadberry
03/05 Washington, DC – Black Cat
03/06 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
03/08 Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw
03/09 Boston, MA – Royale
03/10 Montréal, QC – Théâtre Fairmount
03/11 Toronto, ON – Opera House
03/12 Detroit, MI – El Club
03/14 Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall
03/15 Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line
03/16 Lawrence, KS – Granada Theater
03/18 Denver, CO – Summit
03/19 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
03/21 Vancouver, – Crocodile
03/23 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
03/24 Boise, ID – Treefort Music Fest

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