How Time Off — And Surfing — Influenced Fleet Foxes' 'Crack-Up' In 2011, the band put its career on hold at the height of its success. Singer and songwriter Robin Pecknold says he needed to turn his attention back to other parts of his life to grow as an artist.
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How Time Off — And Surfing — Influenced Fleet Foxes' 'Crack-Up'

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How Time Off — And Surfing — Influenced Fleet Foxes' 'Crack-Up'

How Time Off — And Surfing — Influenced Fleet Foxes' 'Crack-Up'

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DWANE BROWN, HOST:

If you've ever undertaken a creative endeavor, you may have found that inspiration doesn't always come while you're creating but rather when you put it down and walk away. That's something singer-songwriter Robin Pecknold of the indie folk band Fleet Foxes discovered during his six-year hiatus from making music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TIGER MOUNTAIN PEASANT SONG")

FLEET FOXES: (Singing) Wanderers, this morning, came by. Where did they go, graceful in the morning light?

BROWN: Fleet Foxes was one of the hottest indie folk acts in the late-2000s with their blend of reverberant vocals and resonant soundscapes. But at the height of their success, Pecknold decided to step away from the limelight to pursue the things he simply couldn't do as a full-time touring musician.

ROBIN PECKNOLD: Well, there is this Anton Chekhov quote that I took as gospel for a while which was just, if you want to work on your art, work on your life.

BROWN: Pecknold spent his newly found free time backpacking, cooking, woodworking and eventually going to college in New York City, where he discovered an unlikely hobby.

PECKNOLD: I got into surfing while I was studying at Columbia because there's a surf break just 45 minutes from downtown Manhattan.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ON ANOTHER OCEAN (JANUARY/JUNE)")

FLEET FOXES: (Singing) Biding your time on the other ocean.

PECKNOLD: So on days off from school, or in the wintertime, I'd just go by myself in a wetsuit and figure it out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I AM ALL THAT I NEED/ARROYO SECO/THUMBPRINT SCAR")

FLEET FOXES: (Singing) I was a child in the ivy then. I never knew you. You knew me.

BROWN: On the water, Pecknold says he would often think about his music. And he says you can hear that on Fleet Foxes new album "Crack-Up," which came out earlier this summer, not only in the sounds of lapping water but in the expansiveness and pacing of the songs.

PECKNOLD: Sometimes, on this record, there are, like, just these moments of stillness. You're out there surfing, waiting for a wave. You know, nothing happening for a while.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I AM ALL THAT I NEED/ARROYO SECO/THUMBPRINT SCAR")

FLEET FOXES: (Singing) Off on the other ocean now. All is behind you. All is sea.

PECKNOLD: And then sometimes, this set will come through that - where the waves are just way too big and you're just getting pummeled, things just crashing out of nowhere.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEET FOXES SONG, "I AM ALL THAT I NEED/ARROYO SECO/THUMBPRINT SCAR")

PECKNOLD: And then there are times when, you know, a perfect set is coming through, and you're able to catch these great waves.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NAIADS, CASSADIES")

FLEET FOXES: (Singing) Water can't doubt its power. You're not adrift. You're not a gift.

PECKNOLD: Anything can teach you a lesson that you apply to what you make. And I still feel that way. I still feel like the more experience I have outside music, the closer my music is to what I want it to be. And it's just about chasing those experiences.

BROWN: Robin Pecknold is the lead singer-songwriter of the band Fleet Foxes. Their new album "Crack-Up" is out now.

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