Dan Deacon Builds an Army

A joyful, pulverizing one-man band makes 15 new friends

Does that change, then, your live shows? Your live shows are of course renowned for the dance contests, and you sort of ranting at the audience, stuff like that. Does your approach to how you play this stuff out change?

I'm not sure. I've been playing the songs for a while now—a lot of the material that I do during those activities is from this album. But I'm wondering how it's gonna change now that it's with the band. As much as you can blast synthetic drums through a PA, there's nothing as powerful as real drums. I think that's gonna definitely change the temperament of the room.

I don't want to just close the book on my old show. I want it to be more of an organic erosion from that, have it grow and come back and fade away. I don't want it to just be like, I'm done with that. Now I am this esoteric dickhead. You know what I mean? I want to be the non-esoteric dickhead and the esoteric dickhead at the same time.

Dan Deacon: A self-portrait
Dan Deacon
Dan Deacon: A self-portrait

I see also that you made a tent. Why did you make a tent?

Um, I don't know why. I was camping this summer with my dad, and I woke up one morning and the sun was shining in through the tent. It was a new tent, and it was all these different colors of nylon. We didn't use the right rain-cover; we used the rain-cover for a different tent. And from the outside, it looked remarkably different than it did on the inside, because of the way the light was shining through it—it was creating all these different colors and different shades. I'd never thought about a tent as a sculpture or a piece of art before, and I was like, 'I really want to make a tent!' So I made a tent.

How large is this tent?

It's a hexagon shape—it's 10 feet wide and 10 feet high, and I designed a pattern, and I got it printed at this fancy printing place. I think it's gonna look nice. I'm gonna use it at the show.

So, some people will be in the tent.

Uh, no. It's hard to explain.

Well, I'll just take your word for it.

[Laughs.] Yeah, cool.

Everyone can picture that however they choose to picture it.

True. I'm also gonna photograph it for the cover of Bromst. That was its original purpose. I wanted there to be a physicality to the record, beyond just holding it in your hands. If you went to the show, you could be like, 'Oh, that's that tent from the album cover. Why is it here at the show? Why are we doing this activity?' I think it would give people an attachment to the record beyond just hearing it. Plus it ties in to the artwork in a different way, yeah. Blah, blah, blah.

What I like about your shows is that you more or less force people to enjoy themselves, which, as you know, is pretty rare at indie-rock concerts these days. Do you think you're having a positive effect on the concert-going masses?

I hope so. It seems to be affecting the electronic music more. I remember when I played with Diplo—he was saying he'd just played with Girl Talk and he thought it was crazy that so many people were up onstage, then he played with me and was like, 'I can't believe you played on the floor.' And the last time he played in Baltimore, he had people up onstage and he was down on the floor. Obviously, that happens constantly in the underground, but I feel like a lot of bands, when they get larger, forget about how they used to always play on the floor, and how there was no stage. Hopefully, I'm doing something positive. I try to. Who knows? Maybe I'm just a narcissist.

Dan Deacon plays the Brooklyn Masonic Temple December 11 with So Percussion and the Dirty Projectors

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