Freak-folk shaman and indie pinup Devendra Banhart gives Pitchfork’s Dennis Cook a phoner.
PITCHFORK: I have vivid memories of photos in Creem and the old newspaper Rolling Stone of people like Neil Young and Michael Nesmith partying in Topanga during the 1970s California Country heyday. Have you found a place yet?
DEVENDRA BANHART: You don’t want to rent some shithole in Topanga. You want to wait until you find the house full of octagons and Brazil wood.
PITCHFORK: The place with the great sitting window and stained glass.
DEVENDRA BANHART: Exactly! The place where they say Stevie Nicks used to drop by…
PITCHFORK: …the place where Joni Mitchell once drank too much red wine.
DEVENDRA BANHART: You understand.
PITCHFORK: You got your eggs together?
DEVENDRA BANHART: I got my eggs in my mouth!
PITCHFORK: I love the experience of cooking, especially for other people.
DEVENDRA BANHART: It’s so good, so cathartic and exciting, and a beautiful meditation.
PITCHFORK: It’s one of those experiences that places you in the moment. You’re only worried about what’s in the pan. You kind of salivate during the process. How many things in your daily life make you salivate?
DEVENDRA BANHART: No fuckin’ joke, man. You’re making me realize I need to salivate more.
PITCHFORK: What are you wearing?
OK, I made up that last question. But I like that PFork’s Q&A’s now come with 30% more sexual tension.
The dreary ballads that make up the Philly sextet’s II recall Fairport Convention and Shirley Collins, though I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me they were all covers of traditional madrigals. Greg Weeks’ handsome picking will sound familiar to anyone with a passing interest in neo-psych-folk, while Meg Waird is a too-precious Joni Mitchell. Together … it’s damn pretty.
You can hear more Espers at MySpace, if you’re able to log on, and catch ‘em live supporting Vashti Bunyan this fall.
RELATED RECOMMENDED READING: Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood. Finally, the truth behind Graham and Jodi’s vase buying expedition.