Avi Buffalo

Young Adult

Dec 11, 2014 Issue #51 - September/October 2014 - alt-J
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In the two weeks Avi Zahner-Isenberg spent at San Francisco's Tiny Telephone studios laying down the foundation of his band Avi Buffalo's sophomore album At Best Cuckold, the Long Beach, CA native rarely spent his nights in the hotel room that was booked for him and his bandmates for their stay. If he wasn't found crashing at a local friend's apartment, he would often sleep in the studio itself. His first night he even slept in the van the band used to arrive into town. "That's how I usually do things," says Zahner-Isenberg. "Usually just to save money but also to feel more excited about where you're at."

It's been four years since Avi Buffalo debuted their off-kilter pop in the form of a Sub Pop-released self-titled albumrecorded when its songwriter was still just a senior in high school. Zahner-Isenberg is still excited, but for very different reasons. At the moment he's at a place many people arrive at in their early 20s, when who you are and who you want to be as an adult truly starts to come into focus. Clichés of a searching young artist be damned, Zahner-Isenberg has poured a great deal of his own anxiety, disappointment, and hope into the band's new sophomore LP. "For me, it's a very explorative record," says Zahner-Isenberg. "I feel like the record is a lot about finding yourself."

For Zahner-Isenberg, much of this self-examination began shortly after Avi Buffalo officially stopped touring behind their debut. "I feel like so many new bands go on tour and when they're young they don't stop, and that's what leads them to a bad step," says Zahner-Isenberg, musing on the relative delay between records. "I was like, 'I've got to work on health, and studying what I love.' I had just turned 20 at that point. I'd rather calm things down and not try to jump into another thing I'm not prepared for if I'm not happy about doing it." Surrounding himself with friends and fellow young artists, Zahner-Isenberg did everything he could to advance his musical education, taking on and adopting new instruments, experimenting with sound in multi-media art projects, and teaching himself the techniques of record engineering and production. "For my own personal gain, it was all a learning experience that hopefully enriches anything I work on," he says. "But I was really working on myself."

Taking the recorded framework that was completed in San Francisco, Zahner-Isenberg spent all of 2013 slowly using his expanded songcraft and love of overdubs to turn the sessions into something intimately personal. "I went through a few different cycles of songs that were in the rounds and went through a lot of different options of what the record could be," says Zahner-Isenberg. "As I overdubbed on them and finished songs, most of the stuff that simmered to the top were the album's songs."

Just as Avi Buffalo's debut successfully managed to encapsulate lovesick adolescence with unflinching honesty, At Best Cuckold feels like the unmistakable work of a graduate. "I definitely relate to the moment of finding one's identity, getting to know it for a little bit and settling into it," says Zahner-Isenberg. "And also that moment where you also think about the people in your life, friends that you surround yourself with that you love. That's such an epic feeling. It's a cool time to appreciate that. It makes me feel really good about getting older."

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar's September/October print issue (Issue 51).]

www.avibuffalomusic.com

 

 



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