Even die-hard Deerhunter fans sometimes ask, “Lotus who?”, but that’s poised to change this year for guitarist Lockett Pundt. The calm and collected multi-instrumentalist released one solid helping of dream-rock earlier this year under his Lotus Plaza moniker in the form of Spooky Action at a Distance, his second solo album. Sitting down at a tea lounge to talk with Consequence of Sound before his Brooklyn show with Disappears, Pundt opened up a bit about the ideas behind his new record, traveling the world, and his love-hate relationship with guitars. He rightly admits he’s not as verbose as certain Deerhunter bandmates, but his humble observations fit earnestly with his brand of contemplative, introspective musical creations.
Congratulations on the new record. It’s dedicated to Doris Fields; who is Doris Fields?
My grandmother. She passed away while I was writing this album, and “Remember Our Days” is actually about her. It really doesn’t allude to that, but I didn’t want to write a… I didn’t want it to be sad. I didn’t get to be around at the end because she didn’t want people to see her. She wasn’t how… She wanted everyone to remember how she was, you know… not being the same person. Those were her wishes. The song is about having that memory of her.
How do you feel about people interpreting songs differently than your intended meaning?
Oh, I do the same. I think everyone does that. You could read into any lyrical subject and pull your own meaning out of it, which I think is cool.
You’ve listed Roxy Music and My Bloody Valentine as early influences. What were you listening to this time around while you were writing?
A lot of Gary Numan. I’m sort of getting into a lot of synth stuff. I think that’s my next… jam. I want to go in that direction. I’m just kind of sick of guitars. But I wanted to do a very guitar-y album. I mean, I wrote everything on guitar anyway. It was a long, spread out time, two years of writing, pretty much. Three years ago, we only had one show, but I wanted to do a tour now, and the guys were all excited when I asked.
So, who are the guys?
Fellow Atlantians. Dan [Wakefield], TJ [Blake], Allen [Taylor], and Frankie [Broyles]. Frankie toured with Atlas Sound; they’re all super-talented. Dan and Allen are in a band called Mirror Mode, and they’re going to be doing some shows when we’re done.
Speaking of your bandmate and good friend Bradford Cox, how did you feel about Parallax last year? Did you feel inspired while writing your own album?
No, well, I heard a lot of his stuff afterward. He shows me songs here and there, but I heard all of it at once while he was recording. I’d already written my record at that point. He’s always been a massive influence; he’s sort of a muse to me, in a way, and has always been a large musical part of my life, with technique and everything. I think what we do is unique to us. I’ve never played with another person like that.
You’ve been playing all these new songs, and there’s a lot of imagery of traveling and movement. How does traveling influence you?
[Deerhunter] had done this tour in Europe, and we somehow ended up in Iceland, and that’s where the idea for “Jet Out of the Tundra” comes from. And at the end of another tour, I traveled to Patagonia by myself, and I was basically inspired there [laughs]. It was a really great time, and I felt I figured some things out.
A lot of the songs romanticize that whole idea. I’m especially lucky being in a band that get to do this and make a living off of it. I feel guilty a lot of times, because I get to see as much as I do, but it’s a huge part of what makes me write music.
Your lyrics always appear esoteric and very personal to you, but they used to be more obscured. From Floodlight Collective to Spooky Action, why the switch from embracing vocal reverb to dialing it down?
I didn’t want to do the same thing again… I just wanted the songs not to be hidden. I felt all the songs on the first album are sabotaged in a way. I was very insecure at the time about singing and reeling out subject matter. It wasn’t all about that, but I still feel better about this one.
Well, after your first album came out, you went on a massive tour with Deerhunter for Halcyon Digest, where you’d open up a lot of shows singing “Desire Lines”. Do you think that made you more comfortable?
Yeah, it was probably what made me want to do… Well, when I recorded this album, I had a live band in mind. I wanted to do shows. If I hadn’t gotten experience like that [I don't think] I’d be willing to give it a shot. I still get petrified, but it’s getting less and less.
Along with the favorites you’ve previously mentioned on your new record, is there a certain Deerhunter song you feel most connected to while performing?
[long pause] In a weird way, I would say “Nothing Ever Happened”, but not even in a lyrical way, because I don’t know if I would latch on to anything lyrically there. But it’s a song where I feel we’re talking to each other the most; [its] kind of like our centerpiece, our mission statement, as a band. We have something that’s so neat, and I think it comes out then. It came from an unlikely place, how it all got written together.
A lot of stuff on Cryptograms, too, I’d say, is very special. That was a very exciting time in the band. We were all dumb kids making music, making mistakes. “Nothing Ever Happened” is probably the apex of that, because Halcyon Digest, to me, is very… pro [laughs]. It’s a different era of the band.
You don’t seem like a raucous guy. What do you get out of the noise and cacophony that comes out of playing with your Lotus Plaza band and Deerhunter?
There’s something about the chemistry you can have as a band, like making up a song in the middle of a song, having never discussed it, when to start it, stop it, make it softer, louder… Just knowing is the neatest and weirdest thing, and it almost freaks me out a little bit. That, to me, is so worth it. I don’t care about notoriety. It’s just been a wild ride with people that are now my family. It’s been a long, strange trip. I feel like I’m rambling now [laughs].