Like most things, I didn’t know much about Vetiver before I conducted this interview. I’ve been digging their LP for a while though. It’s got that special Devendra Banhart-ish folk feeling that everyone loves, but without all the annoying yodeling and Saturday morning innuendo that he’s so well known for. That having been said, it probably has that Devendra feeling because Devendra plays and sings on most of the album. That’s also probably why most people – including myself – ever paid Vetiver any attention. I imagine that’s probably a bit of a gift and a curse for Andy, whose project Vetiver actually is. Every interview you find with him is basically a bunch of questions about Devendra that he gets to dispassionately field. So I tried to do the opposite here and never once mention Devendra, but that kind of backfired. I asked extremely typical questions and got extremely typical answers, when in reality I should have been trying to find out whether Devendra is a tit man or an ass man.
Only: So you just finished a new record?
Andy: Yeah. It’ll be out in May.
Only: So you’ve been working on lots of new material then?
Andy: I’ve been working on new material. I don’t know about lots.
Only: Enough for a record, I guess.
Andy: Enough for a record, yeah.
Only: Is Vetiver your full-time project?
Andy: Between that and playing with Devendra, yeah.
Only: What’s the period of time that you’ve been working on the material for this new album? Like the past two years?
Andy: Even longer. I’m kind of a slow worker. I take a long time I guess. So some of these songs are as old as the first record. One or two didn’t make it on the first record and just kind of got held over. The actual album itself we started recording last May, did like a week or two then, and then I went on tour all summer long, and then we picked up again for another week or two, and then mixed in October, and then… yeah. So it’s been a long process. That’s exactly how the first record was too, except in that instance the producer of the record went on tour.
Only: What influences your songwriting most?
Andy: I guess the biggest influence would be going out for walks when I’m working on writing. The lyrics and stuff usually come last, and I kind of just take a walk. The lyrics are just giving more verbal meaning to the music. I have the whole melody – often times down to the syllables and phrasing – thought out, and I just have to find the words that make sense with the melody. I live in between The Presidio and Golden Gate Park, so I usually just head for one of those and sing my songs in my head until it all comes together, really.
Vetiver play at The Media Club on March 28, 2006 with Michael Hurley and Currituck Co.