Animal Collective is a musical collective originally from Baltimore, Maryland, currently based in New York City. Animal Collective consists of Avey Tare (David Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), Deakin, or Deacon as spelled on Strawberry Jam (Josh Dibb, not 'Conrad Deaken' as is often claimed), and Geologist (Brian Weitz). Records released under the name Animal Collective may include contributions from any or all of these members; the lineup is not uniform. The band members met in school and started recording together in various forms of collaboration from a young age. Although the band is often classified as freak folk or noise pop, it is hard to define the Animal Collective sound as they often experiment with diverse styles and ideas from album to album. The group also runs the record label Paw Tracks on which they have released their own material as well as that of other artists.
Animal Collective grew out of childhood friendships in Baltimore County. Noah Lennox and Josh Dibb met in the second grade and became good friends. Lennox went away to Pennsylvania for high school, while Dibb attended The Park School of Baltimore along with David Portner and recent Philadelphia transplant Brian Weitz. Portner, Weitz and Dibb were in an indie rock band called Automine with schoolmates Brendan Fowler (a.k.a. BARR) and David Shpritz. Dibb introduced Lennox to Portner and Weitz and the four of them played music in different combinations and often solo, swapping homemade recordings and sharing ideas.
Lennox and Dibb both went off to college in the Boston area (Boston University and Brandeis University), while Portner and Weitz attended schools in New York City (NYU and Columbia University). Lennox and Dibb assembled Lennox's debut album Panda Bear during this time from the multitude of recordings Lennox had made in the previous years and established their own label, Soccer Star Records, to release it.
Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished—Here Comes The Indian
Portner was also working on a record, which would eventually become Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished. Portner asked Lennox to play drums on the record, which was released under the name Avey Tare and Panda Bear. Soccer Star morphed into the Animal label, with the intention of putting out music that came from the four musicians.
Lennox and Dibb left school and moved to New York in 2000, around the time of Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished. The group's music became much more collaborative in nature, and Portner and Lennox began playing clubs around New York. Weitz soon came on board and began performing with the group.
Much of the live material from this time would eventually end up on Danse Manatee, on the Catsup Plate label. Danse Manatee was released in 2001 under the name of Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist. This process of preparing material in the live setting and then recording and often retiring songs would become a hallmark of Animal Collective. The group's first tour, with friends Black Dice, was captured on the 2002 album Hollinndagain. The live album was released by St. Ives, a boutique label run by Secretly Canadian which releases limited edition vinyl only records. Limited to 300 copies, each of which featured a one-of-a-kind handmade cover, Hollinndagain is among the rarest of Animal Collective artifacts. Hollinndagain was re-released, both on CD and vinyl, on October 31, 2006 through the Paw Tracks label.
At this point, Dibb began to perform with the group. The next album to be released was Campfire Songs, again working with Catsup Plate in 2003. The Campfire Songs concept and some of the material dated back to the earliest Avey Tare and Panda Bear shows in New York. Recorded live in 2001 on a screened-in porch in Monkton, Maryland, the record is one take of five songs played straight through. Attempting to make a record as warm and inviting as a campfire, the band recorded their performance straight to minidisc, with one recorder outside to grab the ambient sound of the environment. Field recordings of the surrounding area were also added. In 2002, Animal Collective also attained notoriety for their appearance on Arto Lindsay's album Invoke (Righteous Babe Records).
Worrying that Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin and Geologist would be too long-winded a moniker, and with record companies advising that a unifying name would be necessary for the marketplace, the group decided to adopt a catch-all name. Using their old label of Animal as inspiration they picked "Animal Collective". This formation was to be different from a straightforward band, giving the musicians the freedom to work in combinations of two to four, as dictated by the project at hand or their mood. Their first entry under this name was Here Comes the Indian, which was released in 2003 by their newly formed record label, Paw Tracks. Paw Tracks was formed with Todd Hyman from Carpark records. Animal Collective makes decisions on what Paw Tracks is to release, while Hyman runs the day-to-day operations. The group was happy to find someone like Hyman, who had experience running a label and was dedicated to the group's music; the Animal label was more or less abandoned upon the formation of Paw Tracks. Here Comes the Indian was the first record to feature all four of Animal Collective and its dense textures and energetic performances widened the exposure of the group significantly.
The two releases in 2003 attracted much attention and the group began a relationship with one of their new admirers, the Fat Cat Records label. The first Fat Cat release from the Collective was a double disc package of Spirit and Danse Manatee, which were previously only available or well-known in and around New York.
Sung Tongs—Strawberry Jam
After the dense soundscapes of Here Comes the Indian, Portner and Lennox decided to concentrate on more stripped-down material. Each of them began composing material and they performed as a duo usually with just acoustic guitars, a single drum, some effects and their voices. The duo toured the world for the better part of a year with this new material, opening for múm and Four Tet among others, before retreating to Lamar, Colorado to record the material with Rusty Santos, a New York musician and friend. The result was Sung Tongs, released on Fat Cat Records in 2004. Sung Tongs received a great deal of critical acclaim for its strong harmonies, exotic textures, hummable melodies and free-wheeling nature.
The group was introduced to Vashti Bunyan in Scotland by Kieran Hebden (AKA Four Tet), who had recently played in Bunyan's band. Being fans of the cult folk singer's 1970 album Just Another Diamond Day, the group started a friendship with Bunyan and asked her to collaborate on some recordings. The group encouraged her to sing lead vocals on three songs left over from the Sung Tongs era, released on the Prospect Hummer EP in early 2005. The release led to a Fat Cat Records signing for Vashti Bunyan, who finally wrote, recorded and released a second album, ending a thirty year hiatus.
In October 2005, Animal Collective released their highly anticipated sixth album. Feels was met with acclaim from fans and critics both. Again the work of all four members of the collective, Feels was recorded in Seattle with Scott Colburn, known for his work with the Sun City Girls. Following the release of Feels, Animal Collective mounted their most extensive tour, which lasted into the Fall of 2006 and saw them visit Australia and New Zealand for the first time in addition to many European festivals and North American dates, including a headline set of the Carling Tent at the Reading and Leeds festival.
During their 2005 and 2006 tours, Animal Collective debuted several new songs, then only known by their working titles: "Reverend Green", "Fireworks" (formerly "Allman Vibe" and also "Bottle Rocket"), "Chores", "#1", "Safer", "Peace Bone", "Cuckoo" and "Street Flash." Most of these appear on their 2007 album Strawberry Jam, some under slightly altered titles.
In the late fall of 2006, Animal Collective released People in Australia as a 7" on their Australian label Spunk Records, and worldwide as a 12" and CD EP in early 2007 on FatCat Records. It contains three studio songs "People", "Tiwkid", and "My Favorite Colors", as well as a live version of "People".
In January 2007, Domino Recording Company announced that they would be releasing the new, then still unnamed, Animal Collective album. On July 4, 2007, Strawberry Jam was leaked online. The album was released in the U.S. on September 11, 2007 and received immediate praise, due in part to a strong focus on vocals. Songs such as "For Reverend Green" serve as a showcase for the dynamic vocal range of Avey Tare (Portner). Further, the album closer 'Derek' is similar to the sound found on Panda Bear's Person Pitch.
March 20, 2007 saw the release of Panda Bear's solo album, Person Pitch. A series of EPs and singles led up to that release, beginning with "I'm Not" b/w "Comfy in Nautica" on United Acoustic Recordings (UUAR), "Bro's", a 12" on Fat Cat, and, most recently, Carrots, a split with Excepter on Paw Tracks (all of these appeared on the album). The album received much acclaim, including Album of the Year from Pitchfork Media and Tiny Mix Tapes.
On April 27, 2007 Portner released an album under the Avey Tare moniker, Pullhair Rubeye, with his wife Kria Brekken, formerly of the Icelandic band múm. The album is noted for the tracks being reversed.
Merriweather Post Pavilion and beyond
The band toured extensively throughout 2007, completing several American and European tours. They played without Josh Dibb, who decided to take time off from the band. Beginning in May 2007 the band debuted a brand new batch of post-Strawberry Jam live songs. These songs were written in an intense two-week session before the tour, months before the release of Strawberry Jam. On October 5, 2007, the band, in its full four-man line up (opposed to its three-man lineup performances in 2007 and 2008) made their national television debut on Late Night with Conan O'Brien performing the song "#1" in support of Strawberry Jam.
During their live shows in 2007 and 2008, Animal Collective began reinvigorating older songs with new beats. Songs such as "Doggy," "Hey Light," "Chocolate Girl," "Essplode", "Leaf House," "Who Could Win a Rabbit," "Grass," "Lablakely Dress," "Slippi" and "Winter's Love" received makeovers and were frequently inserted into the live sets. This remixing process has become a way to incorporate medleys into their live sets, referencing their back catalogue with short samples. An example of a "medley" that the band performed in 2008 was "Lablakely Dress" (Danse Manatee) segueing into "Fireworks" (Strawberry Jam) into "Essplode" (Danse Manatee) back into "Fireworks."
Water Curses EP leaked on March 12, 2008, and was released on May 5, 2008. On April 9, the song "Water Curses" was released by itself digitally.
In early 2008 and still as a three piece, the collective entered the studio to record tracks for their eighth studio album. The album, entitled Merriweather Post Pavilion, was officially announced on the band's official website on October 5, 2008 and was released January 6, 2009. Even before the record was released, several music magazines like Fact Magazine (UK) started to refer to it as "The Best Album of 2009", while Uncut Magazine called it "one of the landmark american albums of the century so far". The band set to tour throughout Europe and US in 2009, notably being one of the headlining acts at September's ATP New York Festival, where Lennox is also performing a solo set as Panda Bear.
On an interview with Portner and Lennox on NPR, it was stated that Animal Collective were working on a movie with Danny Perez, who directed the music video for the single "Who Could Win a Rabbit?". The movie feature visuals to accompany their music. Panda Bear stated they would like to "create a movie that would have visuals similar to what somebody would see if they closed their eyes while listening to Animal Collective's music". Weitz further added that "it's the most experimental stuff we've ever done." According to a March 2009 interview the film will debut in the summer of 2009.
Starting with the first tour dates in 2009 the band introduced a new song, "What Would I Want Sky", to the audience. This song was also part of a BBC Session recording. The May 2009 tour saw the debut of "Bleed."
On March 18, Catsup Plate opened a charity auction on eBay for the test pressings of the long-awaited Animal Collective live boxed set, Animal Crack Box. All proceeds of the auction will go to Médecins Sans Frontières.
On May 7, 2009 the band made their second television appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, performing the song "Summertime Clothes" from Merriweather Post Pavilion. The appearance included the regular three-man lineup indicative of their 2007-2009 tours, which excluded Josh Dibb. Four dancers draped in sheets also appeared on-stage behind the band, a first in their live performances. The dancers appeared in the Summertime Clothes music video, filmed by close friend Danny Perez. The video accompanied the release of the single on July 7, 2009, also featuring remixes by Zomby (Hyperdub), Dâm-Funk (Stones Throw), and L.D.
The group has also hinted they may release a Brothersport EP in late 2009 featuring the songs "What Would I Want Sky" and possibly the 2007 tour song "Grace." 
- Avey Tare (David Portner; vocals, guitar, samples, keys, percussion) – Name comes from "tearing" apart the name Davey, hence Avey Tare.
- Deakin (Josh Dibb; guitar, vocals) – Name comes from letters he used to write to other members under the name Conrad Deacon. He has used a different spelling of the name for each album he has appeared on and been credited for. He has been absent from the group since the start of 2007, but plans to return soon.
- Geologist (Brian Weitz; electronics, samples, vocals) – Name comes from the headlamp he wears in order to see the electronics during live shows. Also, people mistakenly thought Brian was in geology, rather than marine biology in college.
- Panda Bear (Noah Lennox; vocals, percussion, samples, guitar) – Name comes from the panda he drew on the first set of songs he ever wrote.
- Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished (August 2000) - Animal
- Danse Manatee (July 2001) - Catsup Plate
- Campfire Songs (March, 2003) - Catsup Plate
- Here Comes the Indian (June 17, 2003) - Paw Tracks
- Sung Tongs (May 3, 2004) - FatCat Records
- Feels (October 18, 2005) - FatCat Records
- Strawberry Jam (September 10, 2007) - Domino Records (US #72)
- Merriweather Post Pavilion (January 20, 2009) - Domino Records (US #13, UK #26)
- Prospect Hummer (May 24, 2005) - FatCat Records
- People (October 23, 2006) - FatCat Records
- Water Curses (May 6, 2008) - Domino Records
- "Who Could Win a Rabbit" (July 19, 2004) - FatCat Records
- "Grass" (September 26, 2005) - FatCat Records
- "The Purple Bottle" (July 4, 2006) - White label
- "Peacebone" (August 21, 2007) - Domino Records
- "Fireworks" (November 5, 2007) - Domino Records
- "My Girls" (March 23, 2009) - Domino Records
- "Summertime Clothes" (June 29, 2009) Domino Records
- Panda Bear (1998, Soccer Star)
- Young Prayer (2004, Paw Tracks)
- "I'm Not/Comfy in Nautica" (single) (2005, UUAR)
- "Bro's" (single) (2006, Fat Cat Records)
- "Carrots" (single) (2007, Paw Tracks) (split 12" with Excepter)
- Person Pitch (2007, Paw Tracks)
- "Take Pills" (single) (2007, Paw Tracks)
- Blasted (2005, Psych-o-Path records)
- Oboroed/Circus Lives (2005, UUAR)
- Dead Drunk (2006, Paw Tracks)
Jane (Panda Bear and Scott Mou):
- Animal Collective Official Site
- Animal Collective Wikia
- Animal Collective at Domino Records (Record Label)
- Animal Collective Facebook Page
- Animal Collective at NPR Music
- SPIN Gives AC's 'Merriweather Post Pavilion' 4 Stars!
- Cool AC Art in SPIN's January '09 Issue
- Interview with Panda Bear, January 2009
- Animal Collective cover story September 2007
- BBC interview
- Pitchfork article
- Review of 'My Girls' at Daily Music Guide
- May 2009 Interview with L.A. Record
Biography from Wikipedia