Avi Buffalo is an Indie rock twee pop outfit from Long Beach, California. Avi Buffalo hit Whelan's for a headline show on October 5th in support of their new album At Best Cuckold. The album was recorded in various locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, with engineering assistance and mixing offered by Jay Pellicci at Tiny Telephone Recording and Nicolas Vernhes at Rare Book Room Studios respectively. The new album succeeds the highly acclaimed and very well received 2010 self-titled debut album which received favorable responses from the likes of Pitchfork, NME and The BBC. I chatted to one quarter of Avi Buffalo, Avi Zahner- Isenberg ahead of their much-anticipated Dublin date.
My first question is in regards to the psychology behind the band and album name. Avi, of course, is your name so is pretty self-explanatory; what is the significance of Buffalo? And on the same note, your new album is entitled At Best Cuckold; can you explain the album title?
My friend used to call me ‘Buffalo’ back in the eighth grade, it is a guitar nickname and it is in reference to that. The new album title is open to interpretation; it is up to you what you make of the album’s name.
The new album is due for release here in Ireland on September 5th via the Sub Pop label. There is a definite 60’s pop sensibility to your music combined with an indie vibe and it gives your music an overall vintage sound. Would you say that is an accurate description?
Yeah, there is a definite late 60’s and early 70’s vibe in our music and its arrangement. It is a huge influence on us, for sure. There exits a gap between then and now, and we don’t want to jump way too far back, it can be irritating when bands go too far back with regards music that has already been put out there. We want to create our own sound too and not go with trend so much and depend on fender amps; so many bands today do that... or be just another surf band or indie band…We are greatly influenced by Scottish punk bands also.
Your European tour in support of At Best Cuckold kicks off September 23rd. This tour, of course, brings you to Ireland on October 5th, when you will be taking to the stage in Whelan’s, Wexford Street. You went on an extensive tour in 2010 to support your debut album when you were only fresh out of high school. This tour brought you to many impressive mainstream festivals, such as Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds. How was that being so young and do you think you will have a different experiencing of touring this time around?
This will be my first time to Ireland and festivals are definitely more fun than regular shows. I have seen some incredible acts in that time like Stevie Wonder in Glastonbury. Seeing Thom York, Sonic Youth and Snoop Dogg, DJ Mustard too and James Blake and seeing The Glenn Branca Ensemble at Primvera in Barcelona, was surreally good. We are very excited about this tour and we don’t know our exact plans. We are getting more bookings all the time and that means less time off too. I am wall-to-wall with creating right now and I just want to go for it, make another record and keep creating.
My impression of Long Beach, your hometown, is that here is a very vibrant underground punk scene. You mentioned many artists you liked from a variety of musical genres, would it be safe to say your musical taste is very eclectic?
Yes there is a huge live music movement happening in Long Beach, it is so close to LA and the music scene is huge. Everyone is in two or three bands. I am currently producing a record for a friend Kevin Litrow as I have a home studio; we are mixing and filling up songs. We are currently making a dream record and hope to be finished in about a month, just before the start of the tour. In addition I am recording an album for Arjuna Genome, it is dedicated to the memory of the band member’s girlfriend who died very suddenly. It is a gift to her spirit. Musically speaking, in the early 2000’s I discovered indie music and I have always been into classic rock guitar and Jimi Hendrix in particular, but I never wanted to make a psychedelic rock record. I listen to a lot of jazz too, especially John Coltrane and what some would consider to be cheesy country folk, like Fred Neil and Glen Campbell. I like old stuff like The Beatles Paul Simon and The Stones, Return of Saturn by no doubt is an album that sticks in my head... I like old stuff in equal measure to new modern electronic stuff and hip-hop.
Avi Buffalo has changed its members over the past few years. Tell me about the current line up and in regards to the process of writing, creating and arranging music and songs, which is such an individual thing and never an exact science, how would you describe your personal approach?
As a band we are no strangers and there is a huge culture of playing in local bands with different members of different bands all the time. We all jammed in a local context. The drummer and I know each other since middle school, since we were about 17 or 18. Yes, the process is definitely not an exact science… I sit down with an instrument and sing along, basically. I use piano, guitar or try the lyrics over a drumbeat. Definitely not an exact science!