Avi Buffalo’s self-titled debut is undoubtedly one of the albums of the year.
Its whimsical, twanging beauty is brilliantly offset by the fact that the people who made it were, unlike the craggy bearded Americana types that usually bring this kind of Wilco-siphoned action, pretty much all under the age of 20. A new generation of porch-swinging, pedal-steel noiseniks breathing life into the genre.
So it’s a bit sad to hear that the band are planning to gear down action after their current US headline tour – especially as they never even bothered to play a UK headline tour at all.
Still, it’s a good time to catch up with mainman Avi Zahner-Isenberg (above) to find out what’s next for AB. Turns out he’s going hip-hop. Well, not quite, but…
You said you’re going away “for a long time” after your current US tour – why?
“For recording’s sake. We’ve been touring for, like, a year now, which is a lot. We haven’t had time to decompress and write and record, to make another album. We need some time to do that. I’m going to go to school also, get a little bit of college going.”
You’re not just going to sit around Long Beach tanning on ‘down time’, then…
“I guess it’s to do both, but it’s definitely to get the recording going again. It’s been way too long since I’ve written full songs or recorded full songs. I plan on getting my home recording rig totally set up and more legit.”
But your debut was quite lush sounding – why are you interested in going back to scratchy home recordings for the next one?
“I want to find the balance between still being able to do stuff at home and having a recording quality. I think the most comfortable are the home recordings, recorded on my computer microphone. I have friends in Long Beach who have studios and stuff like that, I can mess around with them.”
What can we expect from the second Avi Buffalo album?
“There are some things I’ve been saving for the next record that I would have done for the first one… non-songs, maybe. I really want to make it like one of those crazy adventure records. Like when you put on [Dr Dre’s] ‘The Chronic 2001’ or something, and there’s an intro and you’re on a magic ride and experience the whole thing, it’s really sweet.”
Avi Buffalo’s album inspired by ‘The Chronic’ – we’d like to hear that.
“That’s just an example. It would be crazy, there could be so many ways to do it. It’ll just have to be fun.”
You’ve got no tour dates on the schedule after this month – is it really going to be a long time before you’re back? You never even played a headline UK tour but the album went down amazingly.
“There is actually something we’re doing but I can’t say it yet because it’s not been announced. Not in the UK, but in Europe. But we’re taking at least seven months to go to school and work and stuff.”
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You’ve been playing as a three-piece since keyboard player Rebecca Coleman – who you dated – left the band. Did that shake the set-up a lot?
“We only practiced, like, once [after she left before playing live again], we had an hour to arrange the songs. It’s really just a matter of filling out more space. It became a lot rockier and a lot dirtier sounding, I thought it was really good.”
Why did Rebecca leave?
“To work on her own music. She’s a really great songwriter and musician. She’s been recording and she has recorded before… she had a project called Family Blanket, she kind of killed that name and is starting up something new. I’m excited to see it, whatever it is.”
You weren’t tempted to replace her?
“I’m really selective. It has to be an organic situation. There are lots of people who potentially could play in the band, we’re having a little bit of fun with the trio thing. It’s kind of crazier, more free, there’s less people so it’s an improvised situation.”
So there was no big intense rock’n’roll Avi Buffalo on-tour love fallout, then?