Deafheaven’s George Clarke on Insecurities and Negotiating Fan Compliments

Photo courtesy of Sargent House

Deafheaven’s new album Sunbather finds the California two-piece revealing their most personal thoughts to the entire world via screams, howls and an onslaught of punishing guitars. And for the band’s lead howler George Clarke, the time couldn’t have been any better to receive a heaping of universal acclaim. For years, they’ve been playing basement shows to just a few converts. At one point, Clarke even had to move back in with his parents. Yikes. Hive caught up with Clarke to talk about revealing his private life on Sunbather, scoring booze while underage, and how certain fans love to compliment the band.

People usually say that Deafheaven is a bay area band, but you are actually originally from Modesto, California, correct?

Yeah, that’s right.

Well, I’ll tell you, I’ve been to Modesto and there is not a whole lot going on over there. 

No, there is not! It’s one of those towns that you grow up and think about leaving all the time and then you finally can.

Have you ever been to the one IHOP in Modesto?

Ah, yes. There’s an IHOP off the Orangeburg exit, I think. Yes, I’ve definitely been there.

Aside from going to IHOP, what would you do to amuse yourself in Modesto?

When you are kids, you do all sorts of dumb stuff. You would write music or do stuff that interests you creatively … or party. I think we definitely did a lot of drinking at that time.

Ah, but you were under 21 back then, correct?

Yes, that’s correct.

So, then, how did you get access to booze?

One thing was you could just wait outside a liquor store. Then, say if you see a homeless person. You offer to buy him a forty if he’ll get you one, too. Also, I hung out with older people a lot of the time.

So, your message for the youth of Modesto is that if they want to party, they should hang out with older people?

I don’t know if I necessarily advocate it, but that’s definitely what I did.

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