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Bradford Cox

States Pop Quiz #27: Bradford Cox

The outspoken Deerhunter and Atlas Sound musician reveals his old-school inspirations, how he's turned off American politics and why 3 AM is his favourite time to eat food

As part of our States of Independence summer takeover, 50 American indie icons have volunteered to take the Dazed Pop Quiz; a quick-fire Q&A about what they love and loathe about life in the USA. Check back here every day for more from the series. 

Bradford Cox is something of an inconsistency in the indie music scene – an experimental, sensitive singer-songwriter who actually seems to foster, feed and enjoy the media circus around him. To promote Deerhunter’s last album, Cox even held a group press conference for journos rather than invite more intimate interviews (choice quote: “If I wasn’t a musician I would probably be a psychiatrist patient”). Lucky Dazed, then, who managed to pin Cox down to be at the receiving end of our Proustian Pop Quiz. Born in Marietta, Georgia, Cox formed Deerhunter in high school, the self-dubbed “ambient punk” band that has seen several line-up changes, one death and yet, in recognition of their dream-pop-meets-garage-rock sound, a steady rise-and-rise in public plaudits. With his additional solo act Atlas Sound, as well as collaborations with Black Lips and Teenage director Matt Wolf, Cox proves that despite dancing with the media he is, at his base, always recording, and always creating. A single unit with myriad claims to extra-corporeal status, then, Bradford Cox has all the swagger of Bowie with a smidge of the hypnotism of Bjork. We spoke to Cox about his likes and loathes, and giving up on politics but holding onto your ideals all the same. 

Which living American do you most admire and why? 

Bradford Cox: My dad. Because he was born into poverty on a tobacco share-cropping farm and managed to work hard all his life and start businesses that did well and then failed and managed to deal with highs and lows and is happy with his dog and not bitter about anything. 

Which living American do you most despise and why? 

Bradford Cox: Ann Coulter. Because her insecurities are contagious. 

Whose face should be on the $100 bill?

Bradford Cox: Emma Goldman.

What is your favorite quote about America?

Bradford Cox: "Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists." – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

What three words define the States today?

Bradford Cox: Free, Fast, Forgetful.

Who gave you your first break? Do you still talk? 

Bradford Cox: So many people have supported me since I was first experimenting with music at a very young age. I have the great fortune to keep in touch with most of them.

When + where you the most happiest?

Bradford Cox: Right now. I have a cool puppy. He is sleeping with a stuffed duck toy in his mouth.

What high school clique were you in? Do you stay in touch?

Bradford Cox: My best friend in High School was Lockett [from Deerhunter] and I hung out with a pretty wide cross-section of people. I occasionally see some of them and enjoy hearing what they are up to. 

What food reminds you of home?

Bradford Cox: Collard greens. I guess.  

What smell do you associate with the city of your birth? 

Bradford Cox: I associate Athens, GA with a particular musty old records and books smell mixed with body odor. It is surprisingly pleasant.

What's the best road trip you've ever been on? 

Bradford Cox: Any number of trips with my brothers in Deerhunter. Especially driving up the west coast, through northern California and Oregon. Probably my most cherished memory on the road was a tour I did with Broadcast

Ultimate American film?

Bradford Cox: The Magnificent Ambersons or Citizen Kane.

Where did you first fall in love? 

Bradford Cox: At the Atlanta Humane Society.

What would make you leave America forever?

Bradford Cox: Death. Or if by some horrifying twisted joke on humanity a Tea Party candidate gains high office or influence over the country.

What noise reminds you of the States?

Bradford Cox: White noise from highways and the indistinguishable din of overlapping conversations at a diner at 3 AM on a Friday night. 

What is your favorite American building?

Bradford Cox: Honestly it would be my house. 

Most overrated US tourist attraction 

Bradford Cox: Times Square in its current state.

Most underrated US tourist attraction

Bradford Cox: Any rural southern town.

Favorite slang phrase?

Bradford Cox: None come to mind.

What is your ultimate American guilty pleasure? 

Bradford Cox: Being able to buy groceries at 3 am on a Sunday night.

What law would you change or invent?

Bradford Cox: Abolishment of any privileges or rights gained through the act of marriage.

Ultimate American album?

Bradford Cox: Bo Diddley's self-titled debut.

Where in the States would you ride out the apocalypse?

Bradford Cox: Big Sur, California.

When was your last run-in with the cops? What happened?

Bradford Cox: I waved at a cop on my street. He smiled and waved back. 

If you could change one thing about the US, what would it be?

Bradford Cox: The corruption of politics.  

Which fictional American do you most identify with?

Bradford Cox: I most admire Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, although I can't say I identify with a character so admirable and with so much integrity. I'd like to be that way though.

If you could vote for Obama again, would you?

Bradford Cox: I didn't vote for him the first time. I stopped participating in politics after I volunteered for the Ralph Nader campaign in 2000 and saw how that put George Bush into office. I appreciate Obama's apparent dedication to certain progressive ideals. Honestly, I can't help but view politics as a existential spectacle. I don't like to talk about the subject much because I feel I sound very cynical and I really don't think I am. I think the best function of a political movement is out of the mainstream, and on a much more basic local level. 

If you lost it all tomorrow, what would you do the day after?

Bradford Cox: Start over.

What will America look like in 2050?

Bradford Cox: A Wikipedia page.

Does the American Dream still exist?

Bradford Cox: Every time an American goes to sleep.