Q&A with Panda Bear

by Spencer LaChance

Q&A with Panda Bear

WRBB’s Spencer LaChance caught up with Noah Lennox, co-founding member of Animal Collective currently performing under his moniker Panda Bear, about his new album Buoys and his upcoming tour.

Panda Bear is coming to Paradise Rock Club on February 12. Get tickets here.

Obviously, your new album, Buoys is venturing into new musical territory from your previous albums. Does that mean we should expect anything different from the live show or is it a similar setup?

It’s a similar setup technically speaking, and I feel like there are certain limitations to the way I’ve been doing things the past six or seven years. But at the same time, just the sound of the Buoys stuff, to me, is pretty dramatically different than some of the older stuff; it is a bit more dynamic. I usually mix Buoys and [A Day with the] Homies stuff, that’s kinda the bulk of the set. I might play a couple of older ones, but usually, that’s the setup. The Buoys stuff and Homies stuff feels so different in a way that helps make the set feel pretty all over the place in a way that I like.

I’ve never heard of the opener, Home Blitz, could you tell me a little bit about them?

Yeah, I’m not sure if they’ve done a whole bunch in the past couple of years but they are a 4-piece rock band from New Jersey. I’m looking forward to seeing them play for sure.

How is Dean Blunt? Did the carnival [in the “Token” music video] cheer him up?

I think so. Last time I talked to him he said he was doing better. At first, I heard he was sick through somebody else. And then he told me himself that he had had some mentally tough times. But yeah, once I talked to him after the video was over, he seemed better. I’m happy to say that.

How did that collaboration come together? Are you guys friends?

Yeah, a little bit. He lived in Lisbon for about 10 months a couple years ago. We were always trying to hang out, but he was either gone or I was gone, so we would just write to each other every once in a while. I’m just a big fan of his stuff, so I was always looking for something to work on with him. He actually sent me stuff; we were gonna work on some music together a long time ago, but never got around to it. So I’m psyched to finally make something with him.

I’ve been seeing a lot of promo pictures floating around for the new album cycle, and I have a few questions about those. What is the book Awareness about and does it relate to the album in any way?

Q&A with Panda Bear

Noah holding Awareness. Photo by Fernanda Pereir.

Yeah, my mom actually gave me that book. It’s really about taking an objective position on what’s going on in your mind and your emotions. That’s sort of a very general way of describing the book. I feel like the way I’m talking about human beings on the album seems congruent with a lot of stuff that I read in that book. I thought it was a neat perspective for the album. If someone saw that picture and read the book, it might color their experience of the album in a way that I thought was attractive.

Another picture is of you holding a dog. Is that your dog?

Yeah, that’s my dog, Margo. She’s the best.

Do you have any favorite artist, album, or song of 2018?

Did “Powerglide” come out in 2018? Because if it did, that would probably be my favorite song. Speaking of Swae Lee, I really like that Post Malone and Swae Lee song for the Spiderman movie too.

I’m trying to get more into dub music, do you have any recommendations? I don’t really know where to start.

There’s a record called Roots of Dub by King Tubby, that’s one of my favorites for sure. And I’d say anything by Augustus Pablo, anything by Lee Perry. Those are good places to start.

That’s all the questions I have, is there anything you’d like to say?

Well, how do you feel about Paradise Rock Club in Boston?

I like it, I actually saw you there in May. It’s pretty small and manageable which is cool, so no matter where you are, you have a good view. I’m excited to head back there.

I feel like a lot of people hate on it. I went to school in Boston for 3 years and I would see shows there or I would go to the Middle East. I always liked seeing shows upstairs at the Middle East rather than downstairs. But yeah, every show we’ve played at Paradise has always been really good and everyone there is super nice. Shout out to Paradise.

Why do people hate on it? Do they give a specific reason?

I don’t know. I feel like every time I play there, people are like, “Oh really? Why are you playing there?” We have good shows there all the time.

Where did you go to school in Boston?

I went to BU for 3 years. I lived in Allston on Linden Street and Commonwealth Avenue for a second, like way up Commonwealth Avenue.

Check out Panda Bear’s new album Buoys: