Animal Eyes
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Animal Eyes

Portland, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Pop Psychedelic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




It’s been five years now since the members of Animal Eyes trickled their way down to Portland from Alaska. According to bassist Colin McArthur it was less about being able to go on tour easier than it was about the music scene in Portland. The evolution in their sound may have been partly influenced by this move. Whereas their first LP Found in the Forest carries more of an Eastern European folk sound with prog-rock time signatures, their follow up EP Ursus becomes more upbeat rock and finds Sam Tenhoff playing the accordion more like a synth. With the release of their sophomore LP Where We Go the band has taken a page out of the experimental pop book and created an album that is both light-hearted and danceable but still holds some seriousness to it.

Animal Eyes make excellent use of multi-part harmonies in their songs and the opening track “Feeding Snakes” shows their skills off right away. Synth and bass notes alternate between the right and left speakers before an accordion fades in and out with a constant drum beat keeping rhythm while the vocal harmonies become an instrument all their own. “Born in a Blaze” uses effects to create a swelling, synthy sound over a picked acoustic while harmonies reminiscent of Fleet Foxes sing strikingly over all of it to create a standout track on the album. Similarly, the first single on the album, “Mushroom Hunter”, seamlessly intertwines electric guitar licks and vocal harmonies so well that it becomes difficult to differentiate where the vocals end and the guitar begins.

The album was reportedly written during trying times for the band, with relationships as a well as a good friend dying. The weight of this can be felt in some of the more somber tracks on the album like “Nome-Heave”, which is largely piano, accordion and strings with vocals crooning “How you take my spare time and throw it way/ I don’t know/ how you take my spare time and throw it way/ I don’t care.” The title track of the album finds itself in between these two tempos with a shuffling drum beat beneath synths and effect-laden guitars.

The talent that Animal Eyes portrays on this album is impressive. The way that they make multi-part harmonies sound both effortless to create, not to mention perform, is not something that is easy and should not be understated. Equally remarkable is the songwriting. Each song is layered with so many different sounds that reveal themselves over multiple listens. If Animal Eyes can pull off what is contained on this album in a live setting when they go on tour this summer, they will surely prove that they are a musical force to be reckoned with. - Glide Magazine

"Animal Eyes - "Mushroom Hunter" (audio) (premiere)"

Four years removed from their debut album Found in the Forest and two years after the Ursus EP, Alaska-bred and Portland-based band Animal Eyes are set to release their second full-length album Where We Go in September.

In advance of the new record the band has released the single “Mushroom Hunter”, which finds the quintet drifting a little further away from the folkier sounds of the debut and more towards something more psychedelic and abstract. When those layered vocal harmonies kick in, you can hear the influence of Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear, but best of all you notice the confidence this band shows on their third release. We’re pleased to premiere the track today, and be sure to learn more about Animal Eyes via Facebook and Bandcamp.

Read more: - Pop Matters

"Follow Animal Eyes on an arcane quest in their new video for "Zeke/The Wizard" Read more at"

Portland-based psych pop outfit Animal Eyes have just shared the new video for their single "Zeke/The Wizard" from their recently released second full-length effort Where We Go. "Zeke/The Wizard" diverges from older Animal Eyes releases in its more meticulously crafted instrumentation and impressive vocal flourishes.
The composition oozes a newfound and earnest ambition heralded in by an orchestral horn section at its onset, followed by the entrance of feral and almost pained vocals of lead singer Sam Tenhoff. In this song, Tenhoff's vocals bear more than a little resemblance to Jeff Mangum in the strain apparent when Tenhoff reaches for the upper register of his vocal range and in the occult lyrical subject of this eponymous wandering Wizard for which the track is named. The manic nature of Tenhoff's vocal delivery is exacerbated further by the addition of droning and fuzzed guitar licks and an almost constant euphoria induced by the light piano that is both mixed down, but undeniably prominent in the contrast it provides against the vocals. While this is only the groups' third studio effort (two LPs and one EP,) Animal Eyes already promises to be one of the few indie pop groups that actually get better with time.

Read more at - Ear Milk

"Local Feature: Animal Eyes"

There lies in music a precious gift serving human understanding, a looking glass. Animal Eyes has so many tints and lens’ hues that when they bring them all to bear, the viewer feels awash and dazzled. Their latest album, Where We Go, is of the many shades of life; at least regarding their friends, lovers and family there have been few emotions with which it has not been closely colored. Its complexity mirrors ours. The album turns out to be a personal and multi-voiced diary, and the listener learns from the entries that Animal Eyes have something to share, a vision, that they are storytellers, that they have struggled through their memories to bring us now some portraits of the human experience and that the world’s face is a kaleidoscope.

Eleven: What was like growing up playing music in Alaska?

Haven Multz Matthews: Definitely very limited. Homer [Alaska], for instance, was a great place for playing music and being a young kid because there was so much community support, but it was still very limited as far as seeing live bands and going to shows.

Tyler Langham: Yeah that wasn’t a part of our experience at all growing up. You didn’t see live music other than a dad bar band.

HMM: We had to make the live music happen.

Sam Tenhoff: It was kinda like being on a deserted island, and being like “we’re gonna do what we see other rock bands do in movies” but with no influence from any other bigger bands coming through town. Just kind of making it up. Totally DIY.

HMM: The biggest show I ever saw growing up was Bela Fleck and the Flecktones at the high school auditorium when I was 18. That was the big whoop-di-doo. I remember my mom bought me tickets to see Blink-182 in Anchorage and then they canceled.

TL: Anchorage, which would be a four-hour drive to see a rock band.

Colin McArthur: But it was great. I’d come into town and hang out at Sam’s loft and play bass for a few hours and then we’d have a band practice somewhere. We organized a lot of shows. It was really insulated in that respect, it was just us playing with all the other kid bands in town.

TL: It was fun growing up in Alaska because we were at a stage in music experience where jamming was still really fun and we did it all the time. Just get stoned and jam. It didn’t matter what we were jamming on or with, or whether we knew what we were doing, but that really hooked me to music, the amount of silly jamming I did as a 15-year-old kid.

CM: It felt like it had a lot of meaning to stay up late and play music for hours in Haven’s basement.

TL: This feels important. “I will not try to go hang out with a girl because I’m jamming.”

11: The album is diverse; it’s not like you’re using one song format and switching up the lyrics or the melody. There’s different instrumentation, polyrhythm, and weird time signatures like on “Mushroom Hunter.” It’s complex. Do you worry sometimes that complexity might scare away fans looking for easy digestion?

HMM: Maybe with the singing and the vibe of the songs it’s pretty different, but I’m not worried about the instrumentation scaring people away. I don’t think it’s too out there. It’s what we like to do, and it’s what we want to do. I think we still make it pretty pop sensible.

TL: I love pop music, I love catchy hooks, I feel like that’s a part of good songwriting. I don’t really listen to noise music; most of the stuff I listen to I enjoy for the song craft. Keeping it still a song in itself so that if you strip everything away and there’s just a guitar player and a singer it could still be played around a campfire and be a song. So I guess we’re somewhat rooted in folk in that aspect. I feel like the toughest thing is not necessarily the fan base but a lot of the people who want to review it, or industry looking at what we’re doing and discarding us, just because it’s not as cohesive.

ST: Also, I feel like it’s less with the band than this particular album. It’s kind of the theme: the places we go and the places we’ve been in our heads with our emotions and our relationships. The songs are just a collection of our experiences that we’ve had over the years that have moved us to the point of wanting to make a song about it, as opposed to sitting down and writing a whole batch of songs together.

TL: I always look at it like a series of journal entries.

11: You have three different songwriters, and each one of you sings lead on different tracks. But sometimes you guys have this trio of lead vocal parts on the same song, like “Alligator Sex,” where there are a couple different vocal parts, but towards the end of the song all those parts start to collapse in on top of each other and it’s totally unclear who’s the lead singer in the song. It reminds me of Menomena, who had three primary songwriters, but it’s uncommon. What drew you to that?

HMM: Coming from my perspective I don’t think any of them want to be the lead singer or lead songwriter, so they kind of fleece each other into writing songs.

TL: Fleece? [laughing] Definitely no one wants to be the lead singer. I think growing up listening to so much Menomena, and also Figley and I and Sam have been making music off and on since we were in eighth grade in a very communal writing fashion so it was just natural for us to do.

ST: We’ve been writing together for so long, it’s hard for any of us to think of it as lead singing. Before I started singing I was still helping Tyler write lyrics and melodies, I was still a part of the writing process.

TL: A lot of times those communal singing ones are also written based around a drumbeat. Haven will map out a full structure on the drums, the verse beat, the chorus beat, the bridge beat and this is how they all interact with each other. Because the other times one of us will just write a song in our bedroom and then take it to each other and say “hey what do you guys think?” But the other kind of way that Animal Eyes writes music is when Haven brings a drumbeat to the table and then we’re all in the jam room.

ST: I feel like those songs are the most Animal Eyes of songs, like “Alligator Sex” or “Mushroom Hunter.” It’s like we actually made it while we were playing music and jamming. But we’re not a jam band!

11: How do you feel about the genre title art-pop or art-rock being attached to you?

ST: I think art-pop is a good way to put it, because when we write a song it’s not like we’re following a formula, it’s like each song is its own portrait, and it kinda has its own story and own life that we give it.

TL: But I feel art-pop is a little misleading. We were kind of labeled as art-pop when we released Found in the Forest because there were a lot of ambient sounds, like interludes in the album with people running through the woods in the forest, and that was more like you’re doing art with music, but I think now it’s more just experimental pop. Because that’s one thing we like to do, is keep it poppy but try to get as fucked with it as we can. I want to confuse people but then make them think, “Oh I can’t help to sing along,” or “I don’t know why I’m dancing to this beat because it doesn’t make sense, but it makes my knees bend and it feels good …” I guess that for me is a fundamentally Animal Eyes position towards our songwriting.

11: You guys have all been super close friends most of your lives growing up together. How does being really tight with your bandmates make it hard or easy?

HMM: I’d say it’s somewhere in the middle. You know they say being in a band is like having a bunch of girlfriends. It’s like a real serious intimate relationship.

TL: We also don’t have a lot of boundaries with each other because we’ve all been friends for 15 years, so I feel like that can also make it difficult sometimes, because with other people you haven’t known forever there are boundaries there you don’t cross. And with us we are so comfortable … it’s like family, you fight with your brothers the most, and you love your brothers the most. So it’s awesome, we get along really good and then have awesome fucking violent blowouts and it always feels better afterwards.

ST: I feel like we graduated from girlfriend level and now we’re straight married. Because as hard as we fight, all of us know that we’re not gonna get a divorce because that would suck so fucking bad. That would be the worst thing in the whole world, as opposed to the lighter situation where you can just break up.

TL: We can really abuse each other and continue.

11: What bands in Portland do you really love right now that you want to give a shout out to?

HMM: I really like this band Wishyunu, they’re a cool two-piece.

Figley: Fog Father. For sure. But there’s a big list.

TL: A super new band called Each Both is popping up on the scene.

ST: Sama Dams is one of the best Portland bands, along with Chanti Darling and Yeah Great Fine. » - Eleven PDX

"Song of the Day: Animal Eyes - Bender"

Alaska-via-Portland quintet Animal Eyes’ joyously turbulent music takes as many stylistic and tonal turns in one four-minute song as many bands do in one album. Although the five members of the band – trumpter/guitarist Tyler Langham, accordionist/keyboardist Sam Tenhoff, string player Tyler Figley, drummer Haven Holtz Matthews, and bassist Colin McArthur – met in high school in Homer, Alaska, it wasn’t until McArthur moved to Portland (with the others all joining him across the next year) that Animal Eyes was born. Inspired by Animal Collective and Menomena, the band’s stylistic direction is often unpredictable, incorporating prominent folk and ’00s indie rock influence, but tempering it with a distinctly art-damaged edge. The members all reside in the same home and, save for Matthews, share vocal duties, which contributes to a communal, often familial tone that runs through their music that’s as “Bros” as much as it is Moms. Although it doesn’t have a Bacchanal streak running though it, the nonstop stylistic antics that comprise “Bender” make for just as good of a time. Throwing any trace of traditional pop structure out within the first twenty seconds, leaving room for the band to run wild. Energetic but not spastic, the song sprints in pop, psych rock, and world music directions – all at the same time. Without any boundaries, Animal Eyes use “Bender” to throw anything and everything they can at the wall. Miraculously, it all sticks. - KEXP

"Nine Alaska Acts You Should Listen to Now"

"For Fans of: Maps and Atlases, Grizzly Bear, Beirut
Formed in Alaska, this band has gone the way of many before them and made the trek down to Portland. Along the way, they’ve hit SXSW and played shows across the northwest, traveling on the strength of their progressive, math-tinged take on traditional songs that squeeze in accordion and horns." - Paste Magizine

"Willamette Week Album Review"

“[EXPERIMENTS IN POP] It would be easy to say Animal Eyes sounds like the Dirty Projectors hanging out with Grizzly Bear, but I won’t. The groups have similar characteristics (quick, whirring guitar riffs; layers of shiny vocals; bright, experimental undertones), but direct comparisons sell the band short. Found in the Forest, the group’s debut album released last November, holds 10 invaluable and far-flung tracks. From the quick and campy accordion featured on “Sweet Eyes” to the bluesy, mountainous sound of “Goat Chasing,” Animal Eyes is a genre-bending pop group that’s not afraid to do things its way” -Nikki Volpicelli, Willamette Week - Willamette Week

"Show Preview: Animal Eyes at Holocene"

First impressions are huge, especially in music. It’s no wonder, then, that Animal Eyes bears a certain resemblance to another beloved Portland band, discovered during its formative years.

Colin McArthur first heard Menomena while living in Homer, Alaska, population 5,000. Dubbed the “halibut fishing capital of the world,” Homer is a gritty maritime town, where the possibility is high that the barfly at the next stool is also a Deadliest Catch cast member. Or, as McArthur describes it, “a crazy little hippie, redneck town where people go to hide away.”

Other than mainstay bar bands, there wasn’t much going on musically in Homer. But the mother of McArthur’s longtime friend and bandmate, drummer Haven Multz Matthews, owned a record store in town. In 2007, she turned the then-high-school juniors on to Menomena’s Friend and Foe album. Everything changed.

“It blew our minds,” McArthur says.

Three years later, McArthur, Matthews and their friends Sam Tenhoff, Tyler Langham and Tyler Figley moved to Portland and formed Animal Eyes, a band that manages to show its debt to Menomena’s staggering art rock without sounding like a glorified tribute act. Playing spacious, syncopated progressive rock, the band shifts gears so often within a single track it takes stamina just to keep up. Like Menomena and its other audible influence, Animal Collective, Animal Eyes shares vocal duties, creating a dueling sense of tension. The band introduced itself to Portland with Found in the Forest in 2011, an experimental but accessible collection of harmonious jams pulsing with explosive percussion, Deadhead guitar riffing and clever, jazzy time signatures.

“It’s a mess of noise in our heads,” McArthur says.

Newly released EP Ursus—Latin for “bear,” harking back to the members’ Alaskan roots—shows the quintet continuing its toothy assault on the standardized rock-’n’-roll format. Ursus opens with “Bender,” a trippy, towering track in which Matthews sounds like he swapped his snare for an aluminum trashcan lid. It’s a clamorous and rhythmic declaration that the EP’s next four songs are not going to be in any way traditional. “Last Knock” is where the band reveals its new secret weapon: the accordion, another product of motherly intuition. “Sam’s mom gave it to him as a gift, so we started writing songs around it,” McArthur says. The song bursts into a swaying, rum-soaked nautical ballad, conjuring for the band members foggy images of the southern Alaskan coastline.

Clearly, Animal Eyes hasn’t forgotten where it came from.

“Alaska was where we got the time and space and our early inspirations,” McArthur says. “But Portland is our testing ground, where we’ve spent a lot of time learning what it’s actually like to be in a band.” - Willamette Week

"SYFFAL Bandcamp Band of the Week"

Bandcamp is my fucking shit. At one moment I'm listening to a pig latin sung ska-wop band from Glasgow, and the next minute I'm knee deep in a rhythm and dubstep album from a set of Chinese twins missing thumbs, it's a music fiend's whore house I tell you. Every flavor imaginable, for me to dip my gigantic balls in.

The other cool shit about bandcamp, besides the mere variety, is the fact that once you've downloaded something from one band, at that thank you page, they recommend their friends. Next thing you know, you're not only sitting on about 8 fucking new albums, but you've arrived at each album courtesy of the album before it.

One such band that I discovered in such a way, and that I've been listening for the past few months is called Animal Eyes. Animal Eyes are an indie rock outfit from the mountains of Oregon and while they casually brag of their diet of berries and twigs, hand-me-down clothing and ability to abstain from using running water to remain more in touch with the wildernessez, their music is an interesting varietal of culturez.

Utilizing an instrumentation wheelhouse filled with rock staples as well as an accordion, trumpet and a violin, there is this distinct feeling of being up to my elbows in exile inside of a vodka-fueled fog in a Russian bath-house where I'm being swatted at with branches and told to eat salted fish. Animal Eyes sound like a drunk, yet polite, caravan of musicians traveling in a rickety VW horse drawn carriage where they sing for food, and wash dishes for the sexual favors they are unable to complete in the back of the carriage.

The album I've been listening to, Found In The Forrest, is as odd and scattered as I could have hoped for, and the aforementioned accordion is the single element that takes this from decent to downright fucking awesome. Sure, there's the rock and roll sass, but the listless college hippy vibe is incomplete without the eclectic instrument-insertion of the accordion and I can't imagine this band sounding as endearing without it.

If it sounds like I want to blow the accordion squeezer, that's only partially true.

While some of the vocals sounded partially lazy and off key during my first few listens, I grew into Animal Eyes's approach, which now sounds nearly conversational and void of the pretentiousness I've come used to ignoring as a music listener as of late. I think what I'm loving the most about their vocals after noticing that I loved loving it is that they sound welcoming as Fuck, and nearly beckon me to join in at the top of my lungs, no matter how shitthroated I might be.

Animal Eyes have that incomplete college transcripted, indoorsy/outdoorsy porchy jam band quality that I've been missing lately in my musical diet, and while I know they make their own compost and fertilizer out back, there's something awesome about a band that's found its own sound.

What's the sound? Well, if I'm drunk on 8 dollar wine, and I might be: Animal Eyes sound just like Paul Simon's band when he was really into mescaline and chopping things down and telling people he was into making field recordings of timber tipping on timber tipping yelling "TIMBERRRR", but then he found out that mescaline caused all sorts of kidney issues so he switched to backwoods distilled moonshine, and there he took on the identity of Hoots McDuckcallz and then only communicated with 'shine friends and the creatures of the mighty woods.

Animal Eyes mos def found the soundz, you just gotta go grab the muthafucker n shit yo, and by grab the muthafucker, I mean either buy a bottle of their 'shine at their next cabin show, or just click on the bandcamp link and buy the shit bro. - Joel Frieders - SYFFAL

"Portland Mercury Album Review"

Animal Eyes, like their symphonic indie-rock antecedent Typhoon, didn't originate in Portland, but they somehow produce the sort of work that's come to typify this city's music scene: sprawling prog-pop mini-masterpieces, augmented by unconventional or "distinguished" instrumentation. On paper, that partnership might sound like overwrought bullshit (and ELO's second album and Kiss Symphony are proof that it definitely can be), but none of the orchestral amenities on Animal Eyes' great debut, Found in the Forest, seem like they're there to cover up careless songwriting, and they don't ever get in the way of the songs themselves. - Morgan Troper - The Portland Mercury

"Willamette Week Album Review"

[EXPERIMENTAL POPTIMISM] It’s good to see Animal Eyes climbing the local recognition ladder. Since migrating to Portland from where-the-fuck Alaska a couple of years back, the quintet has done little but charm the pants off local audiences of all stripes. With the whimsical collectivity of Belle and Sebastian and an experimental omnivorousness reminiscent of Dirty Projectors, Animal Eyes has tidily seduced venues all across this fair city with its indispensable, cathartic hollers. The group’s debut album, Found in the Forest, made a minor splash this November and has been deservedly gaining word-of-mouth momentum ever since. -Shane Danaher - Willamette Week

"Rose City Live Review"

Amongst great names like Fanno Creek and Patti King, two bands really stood out.

Bubble Cats claim they’re a new band that haven’t really played together for very long, but you wouldn’t know it seeing them on stage. They must spend every waking minute practicing because they’re dub tinged rock was spot on and had the bar area packed. Animal Eyes followed up Bubble Cat’s great set with their take on indie folk. One couldn’t help but think of a pared down Arcade Fire or even hear slight hints of Gogol Bordello in some of Animal Eyes’ music. The five piece bring a sense of grandness to their music, both in sound and imagery, creating feelings of vast emptiness and collective wisdom at the same time. And what else would you expect from a group of guys from Alaska on a journey to find, well, something? - Rose City Live

"House Show Review - "I'd Love to But I Have a Show" Blog"

Fanno Creek, Animal Eyes @ Animal Planet
When I first saw Animal Eyes at a house show in April, I was instantly smitten with the band's high energy performance, which reminded me of some of the same level of passionate intensity we have seen from the best of the upper echelon of Portland bands over the last several years. Accordions, trumpets, multiple singers, and a dream to lift you up. See this band now, so you can say you saw them when.

- I'd Love to But I Have a Show (Portland Mercury Blog)

"Animal Eyes - Backspace Cafe Review"

Animal Eyes are an exciting young band who exhibit a contagious enthusiasm in their live shows. Their energy is the sort of catharsis that has been the hallmark of the best of the upper echelon of Portland bands over the last several years. See them now so you can say you saw them when. - Arya David Imig

"Animal Eyes on "Words Cut Open""

Animal Eyes snuck down from Alaska to bless us with harmonies that rest on your heart like the fresh breeze of an open plain. Their songs will wave around in the air before you like alighting leaves, warble about with the sincere bellowing of accordion, and hug you with hints of horns. At times they channel Tom Waits, at times they sound like the swift wave of an angels wings. They’re auditory animals and their music will eat you alive. In a good way. - Mike Harper

"Animal Eyes tours Alaska with new album, more psychedelic sound"

If you ask most Alaska musicians who moved away why they left, the answer usually involves being able to tour more easily. But Animal Eyes bassist Colin McCarthur answers the question almost as if he hadn't even considered that part of it: "Touring was something we realized we could do, but I haven't even really thought about the fact that it's definitely easier to tour if you don't have to buy a plane ticket to start your tour," he laughed.

McCarthur is one of three Animal Eyes members who grew up in Homer, while two others are from Talkeetna. Each played in various bands around Alaska, though McCarthur was the first to make the move to Portland, Ore., in 2008 to attend Portland State University. But what really drew him to the city was what he had heard about the music scene.

"Menomena is a big influence for, I think quite a few of us, and they are from Portland, and that kind of planted the seed in our heads that, 'Man, there must be something cool going on there,'" McCarthur said.

Drummer Haven Matthews' mother owned a record shop called Solstice Music in Homer, which McCarthur credited for much of the music he was exposed to growing up.

"She would get a lot of cool stuff in, and she'd have people who had been out and back, like college graduates who'd grown up in Homer, and they'd come back to town and they'd come back with all these ideas about the new music out there," McCarthur said. "So we got exposed to Modest Mouse and Menomena and all these kind of at the time under-the-radar indie bands, which was really cool, and classic rock, too, like Led Zeppelin. A lot of Paul Simon."

As each member gradually found his way south, a folkier early incarnation of the band called Monkey Trick was formed. "Haven came down and was interested in the project and wanted to play in a band, and he was like, 'Well, I'll do it, but we have to change the name,'" said McCarthur, adding that Matthews came up with the new name.

"He was talking about the eyes you have to give to a dog when you really want it to obey you. It's kind of like this communication that has to come from an animal place inside of you. You have to give the dog the animal eyes."

The new band released its first album, "Found in the Forest," in 2011. The old Eastern European folk influences were still there, but so were more progressive rock tendencies like unconventional time signatures and song structures.

"I think it just comes naturally to us because it's something that we enjoy, just playing around with those standard formulas," McCarthur said. "We pride ourselves on being able to keep it fun and groovy and danceable but still a little off-kilter and weird."

Fast-forward to last year's "Ursus" EP, and most of those old Monkey Trick traces have been erased. Just listen to the way accordion player Sam Tenhoff approached his instrument for an example.

"The accordion is treated less like a traditional instrument and more like a synth now," said McCarthur. "We still really like the way the accordion breathes and the cool swells and things you can do with it. It reminded us of what you could do with synth swells and string sections in a way, so the new EP is kind of our attempt to bridge that all together and go in a more psychedelic rock direction and less of a gypsy-folk direction."

But if the band is leaving behind its Monkey Trick days, its Alaska past still plays a prominent role. Alaskan artist Henry Gibson did the artwork for "Ursus," which also features an outline of the state, and McCarthur said Animal Eyes hopes to make summer tours in Alaska an annual event.

"It's definitely a part of our identity. I don't think we're trying to throw that in anyone's face or cover it up," said McCarthur.

As for whether he sees himself ever moving back, he said it's a toss-up. "It's really hard to make that choice. I'm happy in Portland for sure, and I can see myself being there for a long time, but on the other hand, I really love Alaska for a lot of the same reasons I love Portland," he explained. "I'm not sure what will happen. If we're ever super-rich and famous, we can have our vacation house in Alaska."

By Matt Sullivan
Daily News correspondent - Anchorage Daily News

"Animal Eyes makes return to Fairbanks"

Animal Eyes is making a return Fairbanks appearance this weekend, bringing with it the fun, psych rock sound the pop-rocky indie band has become known for.
Based out of Portland but comprised of Alaska-grown rockers, the group is playing The Marlin on Saturday night, sort of a wrap-up tour of Alaska. They played The Marlin in May and are making an appearance in Fairbanks this weekend on the heels of playing the Monolith Showcase in Anchorage, a growing music festival that features Pacific Northwest and Alaska rock and indie bands.
“We love our little smoky dive bars. They’re real marinated,” bassist Collin McArthur said of the band’s return gig to The Marlin.
Animal Eyes officially formed in Portland several years ago, but all the members have strong Alaska roots out of Homer and Talkeetna. The formation was pretty simple: “We all just found ourselves down here and decided to start a bad,” McArthur said. Other members include Tyler Langham (guitar/drum/vocals), Sam Tenhoff (accordion/keys/vocals), Figley (guitar/vocals) and Haven Multz Matthews (drums).
The sound is strong psych rock with a fun twist, sort of Panic! At the Disco or Fallout Boy with a more vibrant show or if The Killers did something edgy, and that sound is evident on the band’s second album, “Ursus.”
“At it’s core, it’s rock music, it’s rhythm, it’s blues. We love putting down big grooves and doing crazy stuff on top of it. It’s rock with a new twist,” McArthur said. “I don’t think we ever went into it with the ‘We’re going to make psych rock’ or be a classic rock band mindset. It really wasn’t our thing. We kind of ended up as a mix of music. The psych rock comes from the sounds and effects being all over the place.”
The band is making a name for itself both in and out of Portland, landing gigs in some of the city’s best venues for the local Northwest music scene. Alaska, though, will remain home for the band, regardless of where they perform.
“There are a lot of good people close to use in those towns,” McArthur said of Homer and Talkeetna. “It’s great to be coming back to Alaska and seeing home.” - News Miner


We are proud to present Animal Eyes’ music video premiere for “Bender”, directed by The Dean Brothers, and found on their recent Ursus EP. The band brings their small Alaskan hometown to the Portland big city, made up of tiny cities. Breaking pop molds for new styles of sincere storytelling (not unlike their beloved PDX peers, such as Aan, Radiation City, etc…), Tyler Langham, Sam Tenhoff, Figley, Haven Multz Matthews, and Colin McArthur sing it because they mean it. Like the hyper-kinetic West Coast musing, “Gold Coast Line“, and the sensational indie pop circus of “Grizzly Bear“,the video for “Bender” crosses the Alaskan tributaries to The Columbia Gorge for a reawakening visual that depicts the dawning of consciousnesses at the entrance gates of existentialism.

Haven’s journey in the video is met with presences of the paranormal to match lyrics like, “by this fall I’ll only know you as a ghost,” as a startled chase sequence of running begins. Subsequently, loss of footing finds a world of new, yet old, natural order. Climbing to a lofty ledge, clothes are disrobed, as bodies become canvases, covered in traces and smatterings of liquid neon. “Bender”‘s lyrical economy is best shown here: “because it’s all the rain that washed away our clothes and made us turn colors we don’t know and breaks us till quietly we turn.” Colin McArthur caught up with us in a thoughtful conversation following the video debut, offering an inside look at the latest happenings from Animal Eyes, fellow Portland loves, and more.

How did Animal Eyes come together as a band?

We all grew up in small towns in Alaska. Some of us played music together in high school. We were all attracted to Portland and its music scene over the course of a few years, and eventually we realized we were all in the same city and that we should probably start a band together.

Alright, so give us the take-by-take details in making this wild video for “Bender” with the Dean Brothers.

Take by take… Well, I can’t speak to the half that was filmed in Alaska, because I wasn’t there. I’d assume that it was very cold and Haven’s head hurt after that ‘fall in the snow’ scene multiple times from multiple angles. I’d also assume he enjoyed his sunset beach walk and had lots of time to think about his life and such. As for the Oregon half, we woke up at 5 in the morning, drove 45 min out of town to pick up one of our actresses. We had a national anthem singing contest on the drive back to our house. By 7:30 am, we were standing in our kitchens in our underwear as the Dean Brothers’ Production Assistant, ‘Mortal Komkat’, painted our bodies white. We drove aways out to The Columbia Gorge, hoping that it wouldn’t rain and eating cold bagels with cream cheese. We had a couple different locations in the Gorge. As we pulled up to the second location, it started down-pouring. Cats, dogs, elephants, dolphins, everything. Noah’s Ark style. It was probably 38 degrees, with rain. We pushed on anyway, all huddled up under blankets between shots. Just as we were finishing the last few shots, the sun came out, which created that glorious finale shot. The whole thing went really fast once we actually started shooting. We shot The Gorge stuff in one day, and I think the Alaska footage was also shot in a day. The Deans work fast!

What is it about the wilderness that is so conducive to those tribal, paint-draped, primordial states, as depicted in the video?

As ‘modern age’ people, I think the wilderness and the primordial are linked in our minds. We see nature and we think ‘state of nature’ and we think ‘natural’, which has come to mean the state before modern life, before cubicles, Ford Motors, The Roman Empire, before agriculture, even. It’s Garden of Eden-esque. In the video, we explore wilderness as a space that we can return to, and be reborn in. It’s also the wilderness inside of us, a kind of structure-free space we enter into, in which we can face our fears and desires, naked and stripped of pretension, and allow them to shape, or in this case, color us.

What benders in life inspired the song, “Bender”?

It’s inspired by the idea that a transformation (of self, object, anything) requires a shift, or ‘bending’ of perspective. If change needs to happen in our lives, we often have to change the way we view ourselves and our lives in order to envision a way for that transformation to happen. More specifically, we were musing on the seasons, and were struck by how natural change of form is, in nature, and in our own development as people.

How did you all juggle the shooting locales between Portland and Homer, Alaska?

Combination of serendipity and planning. We had the movie split into two parts already, so we already knew the kinds of things we wanted to get across in the first part and the second part. Both Haven and The Dean Brothers were planning on being in Homer for a visit at the same time, and we all agreed that Homer would be a great location for the first part of the movie, and so we tailored the scenes in the first part to the location. The second part, we had already planned to do in The Gorge. We had to wait longer than we wanted to, maybe a couple months, to do The Gorge shoot, due to scheduling/weather complications, but it was well worth the wait.

What is Animal Eyes’ current take on the current state of the Portland independent scenes?

We feel like Portland is an awesome place to be a creative person. There’s a supportive community here. We’re not fighting all the other bands here to get to some kind of ‘top’. It feels like we’re all in it together. We go to each other’s shows, hang out at each other’s BBQs, and we’re always excited to see bands doing well, and to see new bands coming up. I think there’s a kind of understanding that we’re all working hard doing our things, being musicians and artists or whatever, and there’s a lot of mutual respect and support.

What PDX artists deserve more recognition?

Oh man, so many. Radiation City, Fanno Creek, Sama Dams, Aan, Yeah Great Fine, Talkative, Minden… a million more! I feel like I’m not doing my job if I don’t name all of them, and there’s a bunch more. I just saw Mothertapes for the first time, and they were awesome. I think one great source for curation is Banana Stand Media. Go to their website. They’ve recorded tons of awesome Portland bands in their basement, and released live recordings/videos of them. Beyond that, just get on Bandcamp and start listening!

How do you define and describe the way Animal Eyes all comes together to write, record, and flesh out songs?

It’s a collaborative smorgasbord. We have three main lyricists, so sometimes one of them will come to the band room with a song or part of a song, usually some lyrics and some chords, and we’ll all work out parts to it. Sometimes, Haven comes up with a drum beat, and we all write parts around that. Sometimes, someone just has a cool riff, and we jam on it, and write parts to go with that. Sometimes, Sam gets messages from Mars, and he translates them into music using a kind of Morse code that involves him jumping up and down while eating whipped cream from an aerosol can full of whipped cream.

What releases do you all have in the works?

We have one release in the works! It’ll be a big one. We’re not setting a date yet, but it’ll probably be less than a year and more than a day. Stay tuned! We’ll set off fireworks or at least make a post on the internet about it when it happens.

Summer plans for Animal Eyes?

We’re recording in our basement studio during these hot summer days. We’ve been putting in 8-hour days for the last few weeks and will continue to do so till we have our next full album. We have a handfull of Portland and Seattle shows as well as a five-day tour in Alaska at the end of September. - Impose Magazine


Album: Where We Go
Released May 20, 2016

Album: Ursus
Released: September, 2013

Album: Found In The Forest
Released: November, 2011



Since Animal Eyes moved to Portland from Alaska five years ago, the band has progressed steadily towards discovering the edges of where rock, pop, and psychedelic meet. Their experiments with pop formula and energetic live performance have landed Animal Eyes gigs alongside indie heroes Foals and Menomena, as well as festival spots at SXSW and Treefort Music Festival. The group has toured the West Coast extensively, and is gearing up to hit the road again in summer of 2016 in support of their upcoming album “Where We Go,” scheduled for release May 20th, 2016.

Their 2013 release, “Ursus,” saw the band pulling away from the folk-infused compositions of their 2011 debut “Found in the Forest,” into a realm of angular rock music. ‘Mushroom Hunter’ is the first single released from “Where We Go.” The song showcases the band’s signature off-kilter grooves, twisted pop song structures, and layered vocal melodies, conjuring comparisons to The Dirty Projectors and Animal Collective.

Their 2016 release,“Where We Go”, was written during turbulent times. Relationships were ending and beginning. A good friend died and a brother nearly died. A good deal of the writing on the album is a product of attempts to sort out how relationships, romantic or familial, shape everyone involved in them, and how they continue to affect identity even as those people move away from each other, spatially and emotionally. The album ended up being part light-hearted and part tense, because as serious as all of it can get, there is a certain silliness and awkwardness to the human learning experience.

Shortly after the release of Where We Go, on of the founding members/songwriters, Sam Tenhoff, left the band to pursue a solo career. Good friend and side project collaborator, Tommy Morgen Burke, guitar and synth master joined the group. Animal Eyes is well on there way writing a new record. They plan to record in January with the new line up hoping for a psychedelic new cohesive sound. 

Band Members