If your mom were to pick a favorite black metal band, it'd be Deafheaven.
That's because this San Francisco quintet doesn't stick to that subgenre, and while its music is certainly brutal enough for the metal set, the group excels at creating atmosphere and injecting real beauty into its gnashing sound. Last year, the band reached new audiences—though probably still not your mom—with the acclaimed Sunbather album, and earlier this month, they embarked on the second-ever Converse Rubber Tracks Live tour, which wraps tonight in Toronto. As with last year's go-round, headlined by High on Fire, Deafheaven had the chance to handpick the opening band in each city, and singer George Clarke and company chose some damn good ones.
In an interview with NYLON Guys just before this past Wednesday's Brooklyn tour stop, Clarke dished on how he and his bandmates went about selecting their support acts. He also talked about what clothes he takes on the road and explained why Converse is the type of company you don't have to feel bad about partnering with.
Read on to see what he had to say, and to check out exclusive pics from the BK throwdown.
Do you tend to be evangelical about bands you either know or really like? Was it hard picking artists in each city to open for the tour?
I think for our band we've always had a lot of camaraderie when it comes to band that we like and tour with. So yeah, I definitely seen the praises of people we go on tour with. Regardless if we are opening or headlining or whatever. For this tour specifically, I was given a list, and I picked the ones that I felt would best suit our show, and tonight it’s Beast Patrol who have a really excellent sort of New Wave take on Jesus and Mary Chain. At least that sort of what I gather from their music. It’s worked out well so far. I’m happy to just to be a part of the whole thing.
I've only heard "On and On" from Wove, who supported in your home San Francisco, but it's super sludgy and pretty great. Why'd you pick them?
Before they were Wove, they were A Million Billion Dying Suns, and I just seen them locally a few times and really respected their musicianship. When they were put on the table to open the show, I felt it was a no brainier. I think what they do is really creative and very expansive and interesting and I think they complemented the show really well.
Haunted Summer, who opened in L.A., have a totally different vibe. How important was variety for you in picking these bands?
I think that it always is, whether its in this occasion or touring in general. I think that juxtaposition in a live setting is really complementary. I think you walk away with much more when you see bands that have small connections but are otherwise different styles of music and they were so good when we play with them and good people as well, and I’m happy that we did go with them, and I’m happy it worked out as well as it did.
Beast Patrol, the CRT band opening up the show in Brooklyn, have a nice dreamy sound, too—sort of a post-punk Mazzy Star, maybe, though "Run Toward Fear" hits pretty damn hard. What do you like about these guys?
Their vibe. I love their spaciousness. I really enjoy their ethereal vocal approach. I really enjoy the heavy but sort of dissonant guitar. I think that they really encompass a lot of what was good about the late '80s, especially the U.K. scene itself. To me they really sound like a Mexican Summer band. You know, I follow them pretty heavily, so, it was all good. I felt that it was the best match for us.
New Highway Hymnal will rock Boston with you guys and sound pretty badass—some good old heavy psych-rock. How'd you discover them?
Through the same medium. We were sent a number of band that I took my time and went though to pick. I’m also a big fan of that type of music—our guitar player and drummer playing in a heavy psych band called Creepers—and I felt that there was all this sort of strange musical connections, and it worked out, and I’m really excited to play with them. I think that it’s going to be a really good show.
Programm, who close out the tour with you in Toronto, bring in that electronic/cold wave element. Do you guys listen to a lot of that stuff?
Yeah, we do, especially our bass player, Steven. He has a large investment in that kind of thing. I think we all do to a certain degree. In fact, when I heard that band it was really refreshing, because a lot of what was offered was a lot of the same sounds, so when I checked out Programm out initially, like “I think that this is going to be the artist that is going to complement what we do and hopefully appeal to everyone that’s enjoying the show."
Are you guys longtime Converse fans? Seems like one of those brands everyone can get behind. Who doesn't own a few pairs of crummy Chucks?
Yeah, absolutely! I was joking around with the rest of the guys like, there were three, four years, especially when I started getting into punk, that I only rocked Chucks. It was only high-tops, too; we had this joke that if you had a low top you were like a loser, poser [laugh]. It was all about the OGs—it’s a staple, and its cool to be working with such a staple as well.
How do you go about packing clothes for a tour, and what do you take on a three-week trip like this?
Socks and underwear: Those are the most important things. Less shirts than you would actually imagine, and I re-wear a lot of stuff, unless it just gets disgusting. Honesty, the night before I’m just scrambling and throwing things in a bag and hoping I’m not missing out two weeks in. Not a whole lot of planning because I’m a really disorganized person.
What are your thoughts on street-ware and stage-ware?
Honestly, I usually wear the same outfit onstage, because it dries out quickly, and it will get salt stains every couple of weeks. But other than that, it holds up. I only have so many clothes, and I can’t just run through a new t-shirt every night. And that’s really the only real difference. Tonight, I will probably be wearing a t-shirt instead of my usual button-down. I like to hang out and stuff, and then I like to have something that I can reuse multiple times. More specifically, a plain black button-down that is just easy, and I’m all about easy!