Tonight at the AFI Theater in Silver Spring, Animal Collective unleash their new movie, Oddsac.
Over the course of the past couple of months, BYT sat down for a couple of interviews with Animal Collective’s Brian Weitz, aka Geologist, to talk hockey, horror movies and the real odd sac: ‘balls at twelve’. Catch the film tonight in Silver Spring at the historic AFI Silver Theatre at 8 or 10 PM and ‘be prepared’ for some seriously stunning visuals.
BYT: Did you enjoy wearing makeup for your roles in the movie?
Geologist: I actually didn’t wear any makeup in the movie. Neither did Noah (Panda Bear). We both got it really easy compared to Dave and Josh. I think it took Dave around 3 hours to get off the red body paint and glitter. Josh had some allergic reaction on his scalp from the headpiece.
BYT: Have you ever worn makeup before?
Geologist: Yeah in some photoshoots or TV performances they always put a little makeup on you to make you look less sickly and oily under the lights. We usually say no to excessive makeup though because we’ve ended up in some bad situations where a stylist makes us look like a bunch of characters with a completely different aesthetic than we would ever choose. I guess I also wore face paint on Halloween.
BYT: Why are you so obsessed with horror films? How long have you been into the genre?
Geologist: Since I was a kid. Even before I was aware of horror or allowed to watch anything scary I kind of leaned that way. Return of the Jedi is the first movie I remember seeing in the theater, and the Emperor was my favorite character. I guess I like the idea of being really powerful and successful but being able to wear a baggy robe to work.
Geologist: In general though I like horror because I like things that have a really immediate and visceral impact. I always equate horror films with comedy even though they seem really different. They both produce immediate and undeniable reactions – laughter and fear – and I respect things that can pull that off. One of the special things about horror in particular is that it is a bit more universal. Some comedy is limited by language and cultural context, but horror can use sound and image to create fear across those lines.
BYT: What’s your favorite horror film?
Geologist: The Shining, with Texas Chainsaw Massacre a close second. Ju-on is my favorite recent one. I also have to give a shot out to Hausu, which is a bit more campy, but still a great horror film. We used to rent a bootleg VHS copy from Kim’s in New York that had no subtitles and it was one of my favorite films despite not following the dialogue or plot. It was recently bought by a new distributor and is being screened at independent theaters around the country, and with the subtitles I’m told. It’s such great eye candy that its a shame to think people’s attention will be drawn to the bottom of the screen to read words, but even so, if its coming to DC, don’t miss it.
BYT: You were recently at Sundance, was your film received well there? Any celebrity sightings you care to share?
Geologist: I think the reaction was pretty good. We had a fair amount of walk outs but it didn’t bother us. A lot of people at Sundance just go to whatever they can get tickets to without knowing anything about the movie. Most of the people I met that wanted to see it enjoyed it though. Then again, you saw it and turned down the chance to see it again, so maybe I am bad at reading people, hehehe. I didn’t see any celebrities but I didn’t really go to any parties. We had our festival photoshoot after Joan Rivers, so I met her.
BYT: As a feminist, I’m curious about the role that women play in your movie, because it seems that there is a slight bent on the more domestic side of femininity. Was that a conscious choice to portray the fairer sex in this light?
Geologist: Cheap shot dude, but I’ll explain it since we didn’t do a good job when we actually were challenged by a feminist. Before I do though, I’ll offer the disclaimer that Danny came up with those visuals and I am speaking for him here and run the risk of saying something he may not totally agree with. Generally Danny is interested in subversion and there are a few ideas he goes after in the film. While gender roles weren’t a prime target, they do get messed with slightly. In all those scenes, the women doing those domestic actions usually survive and escape the scenes and the men either die or are left alone, except the dad at the campfire, but we’ll assume by his physical condition that he doesn’t have much longer [to live].
BYT: As a long-time Philadelphia sports fan, would you care to comment on the recent incident that took place during the Phillies/Nats game in Philadelphia? What is wrong with Philadelphia Sports Fans?
Geologist: Two cheap shots in row? If you’re not careful I’ll intentionally vomit on you. At least get your facts straight – the guy who did that wasn’t from Philly, he was from Cherry Hill. All bets are off when Jersey is involved.
BYT: Your picks for the Stanley Cup finals this year?
Geologist: I’m having a tough time predicting so far. I didn’t think Montreal or Phoenix had a chance in their series and both showed they can skate with the other teams. I think it could be the Caps year, though you never want goaltending troubles in the playoffs so I would be concerned if I were a Caps fan. They had a great regular season but then again they’re in the southeast division. Still, Caps over the Hawks in 6.
BYT: Absent a defined plot or narrative, would you suggest folks mentally ‘prepare’ for a viewing of your movie in any way?
Geologist: The drug question in disguise? I don’t think you have to do drugs to enjoy the movie. But even if you did, this is a weeknight event in DC and everyone has to work the next morning. You should see the disparity between the 8pm and 10pm guest lists.
BYT: Will you be releasing the soundtrack?
Geologist: No we’re releasing the dvd. We don’t really want to separate the music and the visuals because they were worked on simultaneously and one always influenced the other. If you only want to listen to it you can still put it in your dvd player and then go about cleaning the house or doing whatever you want to do. Then occasionally you’ll turn around towards your tv and just see me in a muscle suit screaming back at you or something.
OK-LETS TAKE A MOMENT NOW TO READ THE REVIEW SARAH SHERMAN, ONE OF OUR CONTRIBUTORS WROTE AFTER SEEING THE MOVIE IN BALTIMORE THIS WEEKEND. THANKS.
On Saturday night at Baltimore’s Senator Theater, Animal Collective premiered ODDSAC, their visual album, for their hometown. Director Danny Perez took the stage with band members Brian Weitz (Geologist) and Josh Dibb (Deakin) for a Q&A afterwards, and drew an unlikely comparison.
“It’s kind of like the Big Lebowski,” Perez said of the film.
An audience member asked whether the film should only be watched from beginning to end, and Perez remarked that, like “Lebowski,” a fan could start watching at any point and become engrossed. That might be true for hardcore fans as ODDSAC falls into cult status, but as a start-to-finish piece, does ODDSAC succeed?
I can’t jump up and down and say “Yes, absolutely! This is what a visual album should be!” but neither do I want to strangle Danny Perez and call him a failure. As a 53-minute visual album, it is not a resounding success. Bits and pieces seemed to work independently, carrying their own intricate stories and arresting imagery. Others gave me unfortunate flashes to Windows Media Player’s visualizations.
It seems to me that a visual album should be imagery that reveals the finer points of a collection of songs. The visuals are supposed to be the complement to the audio, unlike a film, where the reverse is true. In this regard, ODDSAC has moments that are wildly successful. I was struck as I watched a man, face covered by stark white hair, stumbling across a dry riverbed surrounded by evergreens. As he mounted a drum set there were fluorescent, violent flashes of the moment when he was seated at the set, hair flying and banging those drums into submission. Then the bass kicked in, and parallel imagery started to run. As our mystery man played in the riverbed, Geologist began to scream in front of a waterfall, raging and banging his own drum set. Back and forth we went between the riotous drummers, and a shot of the riverbed at a tilted angle made the rocks look like a stadium of fans. Image and sound were carefully woven together, and in scenes like these ODDSAC shines.
But then the Media Player moments emerge. Completed songs fade to vague, ghostly sounds, lax drumbeats and swirls of phosphorescent colors that make a viewer restless. The music becomes secondary, and these interludes dull the impressive moments.
So, after an hour, I’m not sold. It’s clear that ODDSAC is an experiment, not a masterpiece, creating a path to a new type of musical experience.
I will say this – I went with an Animal Collective fan who gave two thumbs up, another critic who gave two thumbs down, and as a casual Collective listener, I fell in between the two. I say go, watch, and ask some questions. Just don’t ask about the title.
END OF REVIEW
And with that, the second of our Animal Collective Movie Interviews was complete, but in the spirit of OddSac, we’ll dispense with any sort of timeline or plot and give you the first interview at the end. BYT asked longtime friend and comedian Tig Notaro to sit down with Geologist at a Thai restaurant in Park City, Utah (where the Animal Collective movie was premeiring at Sundance) for a little one on one question and answer session:
Tig Notaro: This is an interview, sorta?
Geologist: Is this like a YouTube interview?
Tig: I don’t feel prepared. Um, Brian. How are you?
Geologist: I’m good.
Tig: You have a movie here at Sundance.
Tig: What else is going on?
Geologist: I went tubing.
Tig: You went tubing? Did you miss your movie?
Tig: Your band’s movie.
Tig: Did you accidentally go tubing while your movie was on? That wouldn’t have been good.
Geologist: No, but we did go tubing.
Tig: Did you go tubing on snow or on ice?
Geologist: Snow. With an inner tube in between.
Tig: What stopped you at the bottom of the hill?
Geologist:My wings. They kinda make it lame, it’s like flattened out, then it goes fast, then it goes flat, then it goes like this (makes a downward motion).
Tig: You just described my career.
Tig: Yea, do that again. No, seriously. That was the exact…
[Geologist does downward hand motion]
Geologist:Where are we now?
Tig: This was 1984.
Tig: I saw your film and I’ve never seen a film like that.
Geologist: Thank you. Did you like it?
Tig: I thought it was great. All I could think of was, “I don’t understand what I’m watching.” I don’t do drugs, is it for people that do drugs? Is there a story line?
Geologist:Not really, no. We were deciding if we should think of one a couple years ago. They ask you every time you make a record if there is a narrative. But, not every record has to be a concept record.
Tig: Yes they do.
Geologist: So, with the film we were like, “Why does it have to go from A to B?”
Tig: So, you went from “A” to where?
Geologist: We come back to “A” at the end.
Tig: So, you hit all the letters in the alphabet?
Geologist: And some numbers.
Tig: I was not expecting the ending to end how it did.
Geologist: With the food fight?
Tig: Yea, I was like girl gets guy then ending, and then you end with a food fight.
Geologist:Yea, the girls got the girls and the guy is all by himself at the end.
Tig: Where was that little girl from who was like, “He taste like greenbeans.”
Geologist: That was a dude.
Tig: You know…really? That was a boy?
Geologist:That was a boy.
Tig: Does he know that he’s a little girl?
Geologist: His parents may not have told him that.
Tig: Maybe he’s one of those… have you ever heard of balls at twelve?
Tig: It’s when you are a little girl—well I guess this doesn’t apply—but it’s when you are a little girl and instead of getting your period your balls drop out. Then you kind of have to decide your choice.
Geologist: They drop out into the toilet?
Tig: Well, I mean, if you are sitting really low, I guess they might hit the toilet water.
Geologist: They drop out into the water?
Tig: It depends if you’re on a toilet. You can’t just assume that this person is on a toilet.
Geologist: I mean, I never had a period, so I just assumed that it happened on the toilet for the first time.
Tig: How old are you?
Geologist: I’m 30.
Tig: Maybe you’ll have balls at 30.
Tig: Maybe you’ll have your period at 30 and balls.
Tig: Uh, well I’d like to tell you how to do your music. I’ve been hearing it a lot on XM radio, or Sirius, is that the same thing?
Geologist: I don’t have satellite.
Tig: Of course you don’t.
Geologist: By where we live there is a building for one of them (XM Radio).
Tig: Yea, I know. You want to tell me something else I know?
Geologist: You are very funny.
Tig: You are… a very talented person and your director—you can just tell—is a very odd, awkward, intelligent, dark man.
Geologist: That sums it up.
Tig: Is he a fan of Sam Raimi?
Geologist:I don’t know. He is a fan of graphic novels and I think that’s what he does graphic novels, doesn’t he?
Tig: Yea, Evil Dead.
Geologist: We’re all big Evil Dead fans.
Tig: I worked for Sam Raimi.
Geologist: Do you?
Tig: I did. Well, not now. Now I’m a big comedy star, that’s why there is a little tiny video camera, a flip cam, that’s filming our interview…
CAMERA MAN: Webbie.
Tig: A Webbie…a Sony Webbie…HD…dot com…No, um, it was a completely different film experience. You know you watch a film, read a book, or hear a song and you kind of go, “Oh, okay, I can relate to that” or “I can get into the mind set of that.” But, this movie, I was just like is there a story or I was looking for some sort of something, but again you went all through the alphabet and some numbers too. What I found was most interesting, was whether there was a story or not you couldn’t really figure it out.
Geologist:I think Danny likes that, obviously. Danny doesn’t like literal things.
Tig: So that wasn’t literal movie? It was not a documentary?
Tig: That would be amazing if it was a documentary. It took 4 years to make?
Geologist: 4 years that could be condensed—at least on the bands part—to a few months.
Tig: What was the hold up?
Geologist: Other records and money. At the end of the movie we ran out of money so we had to go back on tour and put some money aside, and then we would go back and save up for studio time then we would go back and finish it.
Tig: What was the budget?
Geologist: $60,000? That’s where we were cut off.
Tig: And then you raised your own money?
Geologist: Yea, then we added another $10,000.
Tig: Well, Jason is behind the camera, so big woopty do, so I guess we should end this because he is probably bored. Congratulations on your movie.
Geologist: Thank you.
ODDSAC PREMIERES IN DC AT 8PM AND AT 10PM AT AFI SILVER. GO. And if you want to read more of our ongoing endless Animal Collective coverage check out this link which will lead you to previous interviews, reviews etc: ALL ANIMAL COLLECTIVE ALL THE TIME