The objective isn’t to replicate the songs live. I don’t think that’s as powerful or as much fun. I don’t think people want to come and hear the same thing as what’s on the album.
story by Steven Jaynes
Neon Indian has had huge a year. Debut release Psychic Chasms landed on Pitchfork’s “Top 15 Albums of 2009” and Rolling Stone included the band on its “Best New Bands of 2010” list. Spin is singing their praises and even Jimmy Fallon had a song request when they played on his show. Alan Palomo of Neon Indian took some time out to speak with Chicago Innerview about what it all means.
Chicago Innerview: How long have you been making music as Neon Indian?
Alan Palomo: I started writing the songs in April 2009 and finished putting the finishing touches on the tracks by the end of May. Psychic Chasms came in October. Playing live started out just learning the songs, but the performance became what it is today after about the first 20 shows or so.
Chicago Innerview: I noticed that when you play live, you have a little crew with you. How does that change the songs from their recorded versions, if at all?
Alan Palomo: Oh, it changes them dramatically. Like I said, at first when we were playing live it was about learning the songs, about getting everything tight, you know? Then we started deviating more and going with impulses while we were playing. The objective isn’t to replicate the songs live. I don’t think that’s as powerful or as much fun. I don’t think people want to come and hear the same thing as what’s on the album, so we deviate as much as we like. It makes the live performance much more unique.
CI: Right. When you played on Jimmy Fallon, you sort of mashed up two of your songs. What was the thought process behind that?
AP: We wanted to play a song that he really liked, ‘Terminally Chill’, and we thought it would be a fun idea to do more. We had two days to prepare and we wanted to play around a little. So, we transitioned from ‘Terminally Chill’ to ‘Ephemeral Artery’ because it was really an amalgamation between the two differences between our sounds — from bouncy to some really grating noises. It let us sort of freak out on TV. (laughs)
CI: With these differences, do you think you prefer playing shows and touring or writing and creating music?
AP: I prefer being in the studio. I think it fits more with my sensibilities. Being on the road and playing has it’s own fun [and] it’s own quirks, so it’s great too. I’m a bit more of a homebody and a studio rat though, so I do prefer writing.
CI: So is there any ‘new album’ news?
AP: Yeah, we are kind of sorting this out. I’m actually heading up to Helsinki to wrap it up in November, though. Once the tour is done this October, I’m going to head over there. I do have more resources now that I didn’t have before, and I really want to explore that. I’m in that state of mind.
CI: So I have to ask the obvious question here: With whom should you have done acid?
AP: (laughing) This is probably the story I tell the most. It’s kind of the inception behind Neon Indian, behind the story. I had a dream that I had taken acid with a friend of mine, with an ex-girlfriend, and I texted her and she asked, ‘Well is that something you’d like to try?’ So we decided to do that together in San Antonio, but I missed the chance because I was stuck in Dallas. About a month later I started writing that song (‘I Should Have Taken Acid With You’). That track was a tongue-in-cheek apology for that.
Neon Indian :: with Prefuse 73 :: Metro :: October 11.