British ambient alt-rockers Animal Kingdom derive their band name from two opposite sources: science and religion.
Singer, guitarist and pianist Richard Sauberlich says he was reading books like “The Naked Ape” and “The Human Zoo,” both by Desmond Morris.
“He’s an anthropologist who examines human behavior through the prism of animal behavior, really,” says Sauberlich. “And at the same time, I saw this picture in a children’s Bible of Noah, in the ark, obviously. … And the two just came together, joined together in my head.”
He says the two ideas made him realize something about the human condition.
“I don’t think we’re necessarily, as humans, separate from or above the animals in terms of our basic drives and motivations,” he says.
This inclusive philosophy stands in stark contrast to the material on Animal Kingdom’s sophomore album, “The Looking Away,” where the main theme is one of detachment. On the album, humans are removed from their animal roots, as well from the tragedies of the world.
“I think it’s something that we all do,” Sauberlich says of the tendency toward tuning out bad news. “It takes an incredibly strong and brave character to stare at something that makes them uncomfortable 24/7, 365 [days] a year.”
If there’s one thing Animal Kingdom are not removed from, it’s social media. While recording “The Looking Away,” the band asked fans to record themselves singing a lyric that would be compiled together for the ending of the track “Straw Man.” Although the fan-inspired version of the track didn’t make the final cut, Sauberlich says that he was impressed by the response.
“It almost sounded like a lullaby with loads of people singing very subtly,” Sauberlich says of the ending. “There’s a nice message to the lyric, [which is] reinforced by … the fans believing in doing it.”
Band vs. food
Animal Kingdom also are active on Twitter. Sauberlich says that he and his fellow band members are big fans of the Travel Network’s “Man v. Food,” and have conversed over Twitter with Adam Richman, the star and host of the show, on where the band can try ridiculous gastric challenges while they tour the United States for the first time this summer.
“Obviously, he does them as a one-man job. I think we’re going to have to do it as a three-piece band on the challenge,” Sauberlich says. “We might not make [it to our own concert] after it.”