Pitchfork profile: Netherfriends

The Chicago-based up-and-comer talks Pitchfork, recording an album in Minnesota and Bret Easton Ellis.

by Raghav Mehta

Some listeners might promptly discard ChicagoâÄôs Netherfriends as yet another watered-down, run-of-the-mill Animal Collective rip off. While Netherfriends operates in the same mold, frontman Shawn RosenblattâÄôs electronic package isnâÄôt entirely unoriginal. The debut LP âÄúBarry and SherryâÄù is a shimmering cross between Animal CollectiveâÄôs electro-pop and the crafty backwoods folk of Fleet Foxes. RosenblattâÄôs hilariously neurotic lyrics and impressive handle on vocal harmony is a cool breath of fresh air for a genre thatâÄôs plagued with imitation and mediocrity. A&E caught up with the mild-mannered up-and-comer to talk about Pitchfork, recording an album in Minnesota and Bret Easton Ellis. Where are you originally from? Originally from outside of Philadelphia. YouâÄôve moved here since, whatâÄôs it like playing a festival of this caliber? ItâÄôs pretty amazing. I never thought I would do that. IâÄôd always thought IâÄôd be playing a smaller festival like Wicker Park festival. I never thought anyone at the Pitchfork festival would ask us, so itâÄôs been really great. IâÄôd love to play more festivals next year. I really donâÄôt like festivals, like going to them. But when you get to play them and have access backstage and can hang out instead of feeling obligated to see every single band because you spent all this money, itâÄôs nice. IâÄôve only been to Pitchfork as a festival, IâÄôve never been to any other festival in the country and I canâÄôt imagine how it would be. You recorded your album in Minnesota. WhatâÄôd you like about it? Yeah my first full length yeah, in Apple Valley, Minnesota. My girlfriend went to high school there and her parents had a house in Apple Valley where they moved from. They were trying to sell it because of the economy so it was just an empty house. So I saw that as an opportunity because I knew if I went there and just had nothing to do except just recordâÄì no TV, no internet, nothingâÄì I knew IâÄôd be able to get a lot done. So in seven days I wrote and recorded ten songs. I didnâÄôt come in with anything really planned, I just wrote and recorded them. How do you like playing with a full band live? ItâÄôs definitely a different dynamic and I would love to eventually capture that, that live quality in a recording and everyone kind of strives for that. I do like the difference. I feel like bands should always sound different live than they should on a recording, I think thatâÄôs silly when a band tries to duplicate everything thatâÄôs on a recording. So I do like the different dynamic. ItâÄôs really funny the last thing I record on all the songs is drums, like most people record drums first and thatâÄôs the last thing I record. Your full-length has been getting a lot of buzz, do you feel pressure from the hype? No, I didnâÄôt know there was any buzz. I had no idea. I kind of am just doing it for myself because I want to pretend that thereâÄôs nothing else around. I recently left the label that put out our last two albums and I donâÄôt have a booking agent and I donâÄôt have a publicist for the next two months and I just donâÄôt want to worry about shit like that. What matters is being creative and doing something interesting and staying busy. Do you think getting caught up in that can detract from your songwriting? Yeah IâÄôm sure, I mean I hope it didnâÄôt affect it. I didnâÄôt intentionally write the songs for the full length based on what people said about the EP. I think a lot of people like the EP more than they like the full length. But who knows because itâÄôs not even officially out yet, its just digital. I feel like there are still people who donâÄôt even know we put out a full length, which is kind of cool. Because I wanted that I wanted that slow burn. Everything IâÄôve read about you compares you to Animal collective. Do you ever get frustrated by the comparisons? I used to. Now I just accept it because Animal Collective is one of those bands that theyâÄôre the biggest band at what they do which is experimental pop music. They have pop elements they have experimental elements. There are so many bands out there that do that and have done that way before them, And because theyâÄôre the biggest thatâÄôs the band that everyoneâÄôs going to get compared to. Everyone I know is lie âÄòI donâÄôt really see that much of a resemblence.âÄô Every sample I use is just a field recording like ambient elements to sound full through the actual performance but everything else is just acoustic instruments. I donâÄôt know, IâÄôm not too worried about it (laughs). There are other bands that sound way more like Animal Collective and theyâÄôre getting way more press than I am. You have a song called Bret Easton Ellis, are you a fan?>/b> Yeah sort of. I was hanging out with some people that really reminded me of characters from Bret Easton Ellis novels, especially like the Informers is a good example. IâÄôve always noticed people acting like that where theyâÄôre like trust fund baby types and IâÄôm not really around that so itâÄôs like âÄòthis is weird that people do that sort of stuff and I know them.âÄô