Deafheaven talk clean singing on new LP: “It was like learning a different instrument”
Deafheaven are exploring a new sound on their anticipated fifth album, Infinite Granite; the first two singles, "Great Mass of Color" and "The Gnashing," feature almost entirely cleanly sung vocals, for the first time in their decade-long career. Vocalist George Clarke talked about the change in a new interview with Pitchfork. Asked, "How did you land on the vocal approach for this album?," George answered:
So much trying and failing. It was all an attempt to be as maximum as possible so people didn’t feel that they were lacking in a listening experience just because the vocals had changed so dramatically. My singing on earlier records was really haphazard. This felt a lot more calculated. I don’t view myself as a natural singer at all. It has taken a lot of work. It’s funny, even though I’m not using my voice in nearly as extreme a way as I usually do, I would often be exhausted at the end of the day. It was like learning a different instrument. It made the whole thing a lot more fun, to be honest with you.
Maybe around [2015’s] New Bermuda, I felt like everyone was expanding on their instrument and getting better at what they were doing. And in certain ways I was as well, but there’s a part of me that’s always felt like the weak musical link. I wanted to bring more to the table—and also to service the lyrics differently. It’s interesting for the song that we put out [“Great Mass of Color”], so many people have been commenting to me about the lyrics, which is very kind. It’s something I didn’t get a lot of before even though I’ve taken the same amount of time on those lyrics. It’s just that the delivery is so much friendlier. There are all these little things that are personally satisfying about the switch, and that personal satisfaction was the reason we did it in the first place, you know?
George also talked about now the new songs would fit in the band's live show, saying:
I’m excited. I think it’s going to bring a lot of drama and dynamics. It’s not just going to be beating you over the head for 80 minutes. It’ll also introduce our new setup, which has been greatly expanded with synthesizers and samplers. Sonically, there will be a bigger picture at the shows. The want for people to sing along and have hooks is very real. I’ve talked about this for a long time, especially after we put out Sunbather, when people were making these pop comparisons. I was like, you know, I really value pop songwriting. I think it’s very difficult to write a hook, and a lot of people write very lazy hooks. We always have a thing, like, is this a hook or is it just melodic?
Read the interview in full, which talks a lot more about how the album was made, on Pitchfork.