You would be forgiven for thinking that this current moment represents the end of a certain era for American experimental rockers Animal Collective. This is a band that refuses to rush the creative process, often stretching out album releases in favour of other projects like solo albums and visual art pieces. When they do come back together, the membership is fluid enough that one member is often missing. Throughout their entire history, the only time the group kept a consistent lineup from one album to the next was between 2005’s Feels and 2007’s Strawberry Jam.
For a band that dynamic, you would think that planning too far into the future isn’t a terribly big concern. But as it turns out, Animal Collective are already set for their next promotional cycle, even as their current one is just kicking off. The group released the wonderfully wacky return to form Time Skiffs last Friday, and an upcoming tour will keep them in their current lineup until at least the end of 2022. After that, who knows what will happen, but according to Josh Dibbs, the group’s guitarist/keyboardist known under the moniker Deakin, the band already have their next album completed.
“Yeah, we actually already recorded the next record,” Deakin explained in an interview given exclusively to Far Out. “We recorded it in December. I think it was about 18 songs that we had ready to go in the studio before lockdown started and before the pandemic happened.”
According to Deakin, the band probably would have put out all the material on Time Skiffs if the pandemic hadn’t hit, and the songs that didn’t make it were too different from the material that eventually made up their 11th album. “One of the reasons we chose the songs that are on Time Skiffs had a lot to do with, since we recorded remotely, there were some songs we just know we weren’t willing to try to do remotely. Especially ones that had a lot more ambient, non-rhythmic sections.”
Deakin mentions that, since Noah Lennox – AKA Panda Bear – was playing live drums for most of the songs on Time Skiffs, that was the main determiner of which songs would be included and which would be saved. “We picked tracks that felt like, ‘OK, this is something that we can maintain the vibe of it in the way that we want it to while still needing to accept that Noah’s going to have to set up a click and record this drum tracks to that,” Deakin explains.
“There was even a few songs that we tried to do for Time Skiffs that ended up just not sounding right for the medium that we were doing it. They were fine, but it was like something was just missing and you just kind of knew that they were going to suffer from not being done in the studio.” Instead, the group waited until they reconvened in December of 2020, at which point they recorded what is likely to end up being the 12th Animal Collective album.
“I’m super proud of Time Skiffs and I’m really excited about it, but I’m also almost more excited about the next thing. Not because it’s better, it’s just different,” Deakin adds. “The fresh thing is always going to feel the most exciting, but it’s all kind of part of the same era, basically. It’s just, because of the pandemic it kind of got split up in this unusual way.”
There isn’t any specific timetable to release the next album, but Deakin expressed hope that it would come out in early 2023, after the current slate of tour dates for Time Skiffs has been fulfilled. “We don’t have a set in stone plan for the next record, but it’s all been recorded and hopefully it will be mixed in the next few months,” he said, adding: “And I would assume that that means that it’ll be coming out in some form, whether it’s as just the next album or an album with an EP. I’m not really sure, but I would imagine that will be coming out within a year’s time, I would hope. Maybe early next year.”
Return to Far Out on Friday to read our full interview feature with Deakin.