Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the Deerhunter news. This past week saw the publication of a pretty sweet pissing match between Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and LA writer Jeff Weiss where a bad review and the artist’s reaction to said review quickly devolved into the stuff of internet legend. Then on Friday, while everyone one else had already checked out for the long weekend, Pitchfork published a statement by the freshly ex-Deerhunter guitarist, Collin Mee, explaining his reasons why he left the band. I find the last two paragraphs especially interesting:
This sense of being overwhelmed was exacerbated by the fact that I felt we were receiving (and creating) too much press that had nothing to do with any new music being created. I don’t want to be overexposed. I don’t want the world to know what our excrement looks like or what we are selling on eBay or whether we got robbed. I think that it devalues the music and it is just a way to maintain attention when the music should just speak for itself.
I understand that is not the way the media works but I found it disgraceful and sensationalistic. I felt misrepresented and that the band was being portrayed as opportunists. I was willing to tolerate it, however, but I am not going to put my life on hold for this.”
Were Deerhunter overexposed? Let’s do the math:
37 News stories (including Friday’s on Mee’s departure)
2 CD Reviews (Crytograms received an 8.9 and the follow up EP, Fluorescent Grey received 8.8)
8 Songs in the Forkcast (Including all Deerhunter related bands)
That’s a total of 49 appearances on Pitchfork, and all of this came during the past 8 months. There’s overexposure and then there’s Deerhunter. Some of these stories were especially questionable, including: Bradford Cox has a blog and he blogged about his own shit, hey check out what Bradford blogged about today, it’s even sicker, and the follow up Bradford explains why he blogged about shit and other sick shit.
If the early interviews and reviews broke the band, then it’s surely the tabloid style news of Deerhunter that was responsible for breaking the band the second time (albeit in an entirely different way). I think we can agree that those stories in July on Bradford’s blog signaled the point where Deerhunter went from being part of the indie elite, to a whole different level. They became the indie rock equivalent of Paris, Brittney, and Lindsay. It was a type of celebrity rarely seen in indie rock circles. Was it really news that Cox was selling some old sneakers, a mac battery, and a Tupac tee? Normal people, and people in bands featured in Pitchfork, do that kind of thing every day, and it isn’t news. However, you’ve got to remember, this was Deerhunter and whatever happens in the world of Deerhunter is news, even if the news had to be manufactured with a headline like, “Hey, Remember Deerhunter? We Haven’t Written About Them in, Like, a Week! Did You Miss Them?”
It’s hard to say that Pitchfork are solely responsible for the non-stop Deerhunter coverage. There are those who will argue that Bradford Cox whores for the attention. Others will shift the blame back to Pitchfork for enabling him. The truth is, both parties are equally responsible. Ask someone from CNN why they run so many stories on misbehaving divas, and the answer is a simple one. People click on the stories. They email them to their friends. They don’t change the tv channel when a teaser promises a story about Brittney not wearing panties. That same person who tells you they hate this new celebrity model where people like Paris Hilton don’t even need talent to be famous, is the same person reading those stories.
There’s a symbiotic relationship between the divas and the news. The divas crave attention and they know that their bad actions will get them on the news, and the news, in turn knows that their readers will gobble that shit up. The more stories the news airs, the more the divas act up.
It’s the same with Deerhunter. Going back to Bradford’s blogging once again, those stories stank (no pun intended) of being written for the sole reason of attention grabbing and daring someone to report it as news. Pitchfork took the bait, and since they found something so objectionable as blogging about shit newsworthy, they could be pushed even further, right? Sure enough, one day later, Cox is again blogging for attention (pushing the boundaries of good taste even further), Pitchfork reports it again, and we read it.
I’ll admit it. I’m partly responsible for Brittney, Paris, Lindsay, and Deerhunter, too. I shot an email off to my coworkers the minute Paris was released from jail. I’ve read all things Deerhunter, not because I’m a huge fan of their music, rather it’s because I became sucked into their cult of indie celebrity.
The Deerhunter story isn’t over. The band hasn’t broken up. It was only one member who decided he had enough of being in a Brittney indie band. Yet, for a lot of us, Deerhunter is just as good as dead. Next time you’re out boozing with your buds, ask them what they think about Deerhunter. I’m willing to wager that you’ll get more responses along the lines of “They’re overrated” or “I’m sick of Deerhunter,” then praise for their music.
Generally, Pitchfork is very modest about their ability to break bands. You’ll rarely hear them brag about launching careers, or selling records and tickets. They prefer to think of themselves as the man who led the horse to water. They didn’t make anyone buy Deerhunter cd’s or Deerhunter concert tickets. They merely told us that we’d be better off if we did.
Yet, with Mee leaving Deerhunter, I’m left with some lingering questions concerning the relationship between the band and the mag. Could Deerhunter have broken without Pitchfork? What if Pitchfork had run 25 stories on Deerhunter and not 50? Would they still have rocketed into the indie elite? Would there be such a backlash against this band? Would Mee have called it quits? Were Deerhunter ever really part of the indie elite, or did we believe they were an elite band because we were so often told that they were an elite band? Does this band even have a future? Was the coverage so overreaching that Pitchfork ruined the chances of this band to have a sustained career? Was this all an experiment by Pitchfork to see if they could take a band from obscurity to stardom in 6 months? I know that last one falls into the category of conspiracy theory, but I’m going to ask it anyway. I’ve considered that question, as I’m sure you have, too.
Perhaps the most important question is: When will the next Deerhunter story run on Pitchfork, and will you click on it?