Destroyer's Dan Bejar Discusses Scrapped David Berman Collaboration

He's also shed light on his future with the New Pornographers

Photo: Chris Bubinas

BY Matt BobkinPublished Jan 14, 2020

Destroyer mastermind Dan Bejar has gone into detail on scrapped recordings with late Silver Jews and Purple Mountains bandleader David Berman. He also shared his feelings about his future role as a member of power-pop collective the New Pornographers.

According to a new Pitchfork profile, Berman — who retired Silver Jews in 2009 — contacted Bejar in the fall of 2016 and later went to Bejar's hometown of Vancouver in the spring of 2017 to record. Band members included local members of Destroyer, along with Pavement frontman/occasional Silver Jews member Stephen Malkmus.

Lyrically, said Bejar, "There were lots of really wild lines that would have fit in more with '90s Berman — just blasting images, more manic, which was actually the state he was in. But I think he wanted to do something different. So a lot of those amazing pieces of writing didn't get used."

Of the sound of the scrapped material, Bejar said, "It was incredibly loud and brittle and dry and compressed, with this Serge Gainsbourg-style voice of god over whatever is happening beneath."

The scrapped, largely improvisational material sounds a far cry from the alt-country music that was released on 2019's Purple Mountains, which Berman recorded with members of Chicago freak folk outfit Woods. Berman died of suicide last August, three weeks after the album was released.

On whether the Vancouver sessions will ever be released, Bejar said there's "halfway to final mixes of an album's worth of music" but "I don't know if he [Berman] would have wanted the world to hear it."

According to Bejar, the decision to release that material rests with Berman's longtime record label, Drag City.

The Pitchfork profile also delves into Bejar's relationship with Canadian power-pop collective the New Pornographers. Bejar had contributed three or four songs to each of the band's albums up to and including 2014's Brill Bruisers, but was absent on 2017's Whiteout Conditions and 2019's In the Morse Code of Brake Lights.

On whether or not he would record with the band again, Bejar said, "I'd have to write something that screamed their name." He added, "But if they passed through town, there's no way I wouldn't get on stage and do a song."

Destroyer's latest album, Have We Met, is due January 31 via Merge. Third single "Cue Synthesizer" was released last week with an accompanying music video.

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