Avi Buffalo's Enthused Avi Zahner-Isenberg Talks New Album, Upcoming Tours
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Category: Arts & Entertainment > Interviews
Signed to Sub Pop Records before even graduating high school, Avi Buffalo is experiencing something that many aspiring musicians only dream of. The Long Beach-based band caught the attention of Sub Pop a couple years ago via their MySpace page. Now the four friends have just released their first album, a self-titled collection of traditional blues influence and twinkly guitar chords. Not too bad for someone who hasn't even celebrated his twenty-first birthday yet.
"It's really an exciting, mind-blowing time for us," said guitarist and singer Avi Zahner-Isenberg. In person, Avi, a true audiophile, radiates this excitement and passion for music. When asked about his inspiration, he listed off a dozen of his favorite artists, from Wilco to Panda Bear, and articulated in detail why they were important to him at a shocking rate. It is clear that this 19-year-old just really loves music. "I've always loved guitar and making music and I've also always loved writing," he said.
Avi has been playing guitar for seven years now. He began working with drummer Sheridan Riley when he was in middle school, and Rebecca Coleman joined the group on keyboard and vocals when they were in ninth grade. Bassist Arin Fazio, who is a few years older than the other members, was originally just a temporary stand-in but is now an integral part of the group. The current composition of the band has been around for about two years.
Their sound is an interesting display of the inspiration described above, as well as Avi's experience working with blues musicians. Its beauty is really in its simplicity. Because the frontman is so passionate for the guitar in particular, their songs mostly focus on that one instrument. That is not to say that the others are underplayed; the result is a perfect balance without any overcomplicated instrumentation. It certainly achieves Avi's goal "to make pretty things with chords."
This refreshing lack of pomp and self-righteousness carries into their lyrics as well. Avi doesn't make an effort to enforce a deep message when he is writing them. "I like to have the lyrics be open-ended and reflect moods, centering on the one subject and just letting whatever is on the stream of conscious be what it is," he said. This degree of personal interpretation can also be applied to the music itself.
The band just finished touring with the Japandroids, who have become great friends and mentors for them. This experience has helped them grow as musicians and learn more about the industry. "The best part is probably meeting new people," Avi said. "They come up with things you never could have imagined."
Avi Buffalo has a fruitful career ahead of them. "It's a dream come true just meeting and playing music with people like Sonic Youth and Pavement," said Avi, referring to these artists as his heroes. Tours with Modest Mouse and Blitzen Trapper are now in the works, as well as performances in Europe and Canada. "It's always an exploration," he said of their travels. "You can always meet people and it's just so infinite."
Avi does intend to take more guitar lessons, especially focusing on improving his understanding of jazz music. Even before this additional training, however, he and his bandmates have been astonishingly successful. While he accredits their sudden fame to a lucky break, it is impossible to deny that the band's flexible sound and natural talent will take them far. "We're kind of new at this," he said. "It can be scary and freaky at times but I'm overall just excited to be playing music."
Talk excitedly about your heroes with Erin at [email protected]
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