Kroeber started accompanying Long live on a few songs, on a single tom. "Even during those early shows," Kroeber recalls, "that girl Emily from Vervein was still, like, 'It's cool I like what you're doing, the one drum thing. I'm all about it!' Even with one drum, people were, like, 'Keep going!'<0x2009>"
A particularly inspiring Animal Collective show roused Long to offer to pay Kroeber's way to Portland, Ore., where the singer-songwriter was about to record Beware with engineer John Askew, who owns the Filmguerrero label. Their experience working with Askew was so fruitful that the two returned to Askew's Type Foundry studio to make Visiter after spending 2006 on perpetual tour, getting tighter, writing songs together, and solidifying their identity as a band. For Visiter, the duo piled on an odd array of instruments stand-up bass, toy piano, and trombone while the producer carefully pieced the sounds together in the recording's aural landscape. "John sits there and closes his eyes and imagines his record as a soundscape and places things geographically," Long says, standing suddenly and patting the air above him here and there. "I think it really helped with this situation, because with two people there's a lot of sonic space to fill, so where he placed everything really made a huge difference. The drums take up so much sound space on the record."
Loneliness fills the spaces of the songs as well, as Visiter so often seems to revolve around the women who were just passing through Long's life. "Jodi" and "Ashley" are, naturally, about two such suspects, while "Undeclared" eschews Kanye West collegiate themes to focus on an unrealized crush, and "Red and Purple" captures that "young lady" who fashioned elaborate gifts involving invisible ink that would greet Long at every club on tour. "It was pretty romantic shit," Long says a bit wistfully.
"I was definitely impressed," Kroeber agrees. "I didn't really know this girl, but later I imagined she was one of those people who sew everything by hand, supermeticulous. It was some next-level spy shit."
As the talk turns to girls who have come and gone, the Dodos grow a mite melancholy, though not enough to throw in the towel and jump in a roasting pan. They recently underwent a minimedia storm in New York City, where they attempted to go uncensored for MTV.com while hungover and sleep deprived after partying with Long's chef pals the previous night. Fortunately, these days the Dodos are relying on their survival instinct more often than not and seeking out swimming holes rather than new watering holes when on tour.
Not that the drink doesn't have its uses. "It's an artificial sort of cryostasis," Kroeber quips. "But as soon as you get done with the tour and go home, it crumbles. The second tour, when I came back, my girlfriend was, like, 'What the fuck happened to you?' But it does work! When you're on the road it's the one thing that keeps you going."
With Or, the Whale, Bodies of Water, and Willow Willow
Feb. 28, 9 p.m., $10$12
Cafe du Nord
2170 Market, SF