Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox On Going ‘Off Grid’ And The Drama That Inspired His Band’s New Album

Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox has opened up about the making of band’s seventh LP, ‘Fading Frontier’, and how he went “off the grid” for two years following the release of the band’s last album, 2013’s ‘Monomania’.

“Did you read an interview with me in the last two years?” laughs Cox over the phone from his home in Atlanta, Georgia. “I just had nothing to say, and aside from doing a couple of improvisational Atlas Sound shows, I didn’t have much of a public face – I was kind of anonymous. I was off the grid. Then once I got hit by a car, I became even more reclusive. I’m like a dog – I don’t like to be seen during my recovery, you know?”

Cox was hospitalised after being knocked over by a car in Atlanta last December, a moment he’s called a “turning point” in his life, although he says its importance to the recording of ‘Fading Frontier’ has been overplayed. “Honestly, at this point, I’m tired of people asking about it,” he says. “It’s obviously a way to frame the album, but I think it’s a bit lazy, because a lot of the songs were written before I got hit by the car, and the album wasn’t a reaction to that. It was a shitty thing that happened in my life, and I don’t really want to relive it. I guess I’m just tired of having my output framed against one experience.”

Cox is no stranger to that: ‘Monomania’ was similarly viewed through the prism of the break-up (and subsequent breakdown) he went through before the its release, although the dark psychosis of that record is in stark contrast to the more laid-back vibe of ‘Fading Frontier’. The album’s cover – a serene view of the ocean from inside a burned-out beach shack – was intended to be representative of Cox’s changing state of mind. “‘Monomania’ was a very nocturnal album, and the cover was like the neon-lit corner of a nightclub,” he explains. “With ‘Fading Frontier’, it’s like there’s been an electrical fire, and the club burned down in the middle of the night. The image on the cover felt relevant to me, because you realise that there’s some kind of transcendental ocean outside of those claustrophobic fumes of vomit and stale cigarette smoke.”

As for the album title, Cox says it refers to the changing nature of the modern music industry. “Unless you’re willing to be 100 per cent independent – which I would encourage – then I would avoid any interaction with the music industry,” he says. “I feel very outside of the whole thing now. When I was in high school, I was really interested in Baudrillard, but it’s only now that I’m older do I understand a lot of what he was talking about – they’re observations from outside a collapsing situation, and that’s what the industry is like now. For me, 1959 was the summit of the mountain – you had Jackson Pollock, John Coltrane, the cinematic new wave and rock’n’roll. Everything after that became a roller coaster ride to the bottom, which is where we are now. It’s become very vacuous, and we’re all part of this gradual sucking-down. It’s like the inside of a coffin!”