Bradford Cox of Deerhunter: ‘Music is truly asphyxiating on its own vomit’

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Bradford Cox is the famously outspoken frontman for Atlanta-based band Deerhunter (as well as his equally excellent solo side project, Atlas Sound). Some have dubbed him a musical genius and the band’s latest release Fading Frontier is generating rave reviews from critics and fans alike.

Bradford also has a lot to say about the state of culture and music today, and he takes his art seriously. I know, because he mentioned it me numerous times over the course of our recording a session for Morning Becomes Eclectic at the Village Studios. (Watch the complete performance and interview in the video below. Warning: some profanity, NSFW.)

Immediately upon arrival, Cox proclaimed that he wouldn’t be playing the album versions of songs like a promotional puppet. Instead, he suggested jamming on a single song into a 30 minute experimental exercise (which apparently he did at a live show in L.A. a few nights later)

What we ended up with was a combo of both, somewhat faithful renditions of album highlights “Breaker” and “Living My Life” alongside an incredible 10-minute version of “Desire Lines” (with an improvised ending he named “Illusion of Depth”) and a longer take on “Snakeskin” that included a spoken word rant about art not being a product. (He called that bit “Escape from the Nursery”)

Photo by Robert LaFond (KCRW)

I had just read an article called “A Totally Batshit Conversation With Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox” before this session began, and was unsure what to expect for the interview portion. But I found myself in agreement with many of his rants on culture, and how we are all being spoon-fed “content” by most media organizations and that there is no one to challenge the mainstream. Per his declaration: “There’s not really a great way of sneaking a paint bomb into the Louvre.”

He sat down with DJ Travis Holcombe, who didn’t even get to finish introducing the singer before Cox jumped in excitedly with thoughts to share. This interview is well worth a listen, whether you agree with his point of view or not.

Other fun notes from this verbal excursion:

  • Cox strongly throws his support behind Kim Gordon as opposed to Thurston Moore, as far as whose musical “mindset” he admires most.
  • Cox claims he’s asexual cause he showed up in places like L.A. “with a head full of ideas” and all he found was a lot of superficial people playing “dress up” who don’t really care about art on a deep level.
  • Cox says he has a hard time finding people to connect with, in part because he’s viewed “as a loundmouth brat.”
  • Cox also reveals his secret for winning poker games.
  • Cox: “Its difficult to grow old in a world where music is truly asphyxiating on its own vomit and everybody seems fine with it.”