Interview: Bradford Cox

A&E asked Bradford Cox about his clothes and his infamous show at the Cedar.

Bradford Cox of Atlas Sound shares conversation with fans Sunday at Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago following his set earlier in the day.

Bradford Cox of Atlas Sound shares conversation with fans Sunday at Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago following his set earlier in the day.

by Sarah Harper

If you don’t know Bradford Cox as the lead singer of the atmospheric wonder Deerhunter, or from his solo project Atlas Sound, you might remember him as the man who took over the Cedar Cultural Center for a night in March and forced the crowd to endure an hour-long rendition of “My Sharona.”

National media picked the story up after local blogs reported the bizarre showing from the artist.

At the Pitchfork Music Festival, Cox played through the heaviest rainfall of the weekend on one of the bigger stages. Alone with his guitar, face covered in white makeup, he looked something like a skeleton. Apart from the expected off-the-cuff stage banter, he didn’t tell anyone to undress, and he didn’t jump into the crowd.

A&E ran into the singer a few hours after his set and asked him about his prior performances in Minneapolis and, of course, what he was wearing. Here is the very abridged interview:


Why are you wearing white face paint?

Well I was like a little farm boy that died. Like a little ghost farm boy. Like a share-cropping ghost boy. Like a little farm boy from the ’20s that dies and haunts the fields at night under the blue moonlight.

Is that why you’re wearing that hat too?

Well the hat’s just keeping my head cool and also hiding the fact that I’m going bald.

What about the rest of your outfit? You want to walk me through it?

Well, it’s all dead stock from the ’50s. I found a store that had all these old clothes from the ’50s. And the woman, she was about a hundred years old in a rural town in Georgia; she gave me a good deal on some old work shirts. Yeah, these are just old work slacks.

You’ve performed at Pitchfork before.

Yeah, I think I’ve performed at it almost every year.

Do you like it?

I wouldn’t come back every year if I didn’t.

You sure? Have you ever played a show you didn’t want to play?

Almost every other day.

Really? So why do you do it then?

To entertain people. I’m an entertainer. I hope that I make people have a good time. I mean, you don’t always want to eat sushi, but sometimes it’s offered to you, and it’s time to eat sushi. And it ends up being pretty good. But that doesn’t mean you wanted that sushi to begin with. Take the sushi. That’s my advice.

Your show at the Cedar got a lot of attention. I wasn’t there, but I wanted to be. Can you tell me what that show was like?

It was so much fun. People make it out to be real controversial, and it was not controversial at all. It was like a dance party. Everybody danced, it was fun. Everybody had a blast. It was like a party. It was like a pizza party. It was an innocent, fun party.

And then it got blown up.

Yeah, and I’m not the kind of person to avoid controversy. It’s expensive to get that kind of press. So hell, if somebody hands it to you for free it’s like turning down free sushi, which I’m not apt to do. I mean, if somebody hands you sushi, you may not want it at that time. You might not think, “I’m in the mood for sushi, at this very moment. I would like some sushi.” But you’re going to eat that sushi and you’re going say, “I’m glad I ate that sushi.”

If you get press, milk it. How many times is it that somebody will print anything you say to them?

I’m about to do that.

Yeah, might as well have a little fun, right? I don’t take anything too seriously. I don’t take myself seriously. I make music, and to me that is a form of art. And I look at it that way, but I don’t expect everyone to see it that way.

Whether I’m playing music or giving an interview where I talk dirty, I’m just entertaining people.

I’m just trying to have a little fun. It’s either this or I go back to my hotel room and watch “Breaking Bad.”