We saw that our latest feature, “psychedelic desert folk” singer/songwriter Brandon Decker (often and affectionally often known simply as Decker) called Sedona, Arizona home, and our first, united thought was…exactly. The city of mountains, clay, and starlight fits the vibe of this artist as if he rose from the rock itself – his music a blend of power, beauty, and grit. While Decker hails from a place so beautiful, it’s hard work that drives his passion. The music didn’t arrive here by accident. Decker has worked hard to get to the place he is now, with albums like the appropriately named Long Days, and the attention-shaking Snake River Blues. Today however, we’re here to talk about a new record, again with a name given with a wink and a smile – a collection titled Into the Red.
We asked Decker for the download on the latest songs – he told us, “Well the new album is a ‘Best Of’ of sorts. So, in that regard, I feel confident that it is a collection of strong songs but still a solid unit. Most of my albums have been concept albums to a degree, but I think Into the Red holds up because it’s this snapshot of the last eight years. The only new song I wrote for this was an anti-Trump song, which happened fairly easily ;). Writing for me is similar to performing. I happen upon a ‘zone’ and just ride it, navigate it.” Click to http://deckermusic.org to sample Into the Red for yourself – I’d put dollars down on the fact you’ll be going through the rest of Decker’s albums after one listen. No matter what’s next for Decker, he’s going to make music, and play it to whomever is listening. Make sure you’re one of those people. Now, keep reading. There’s still so much more to learn in all the answers to the XXQs below.
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what makes you stand out from others in your genre?
Brandon Decker (BD): We’ve been calling it “psychedelic desert folk” for quite some time. Not to play coy, but I don’t know what my genre is really. We have elements of a few genres I suppose, but I guess ultimately we’re just American music. In that case, I’d say what makes us unique is the sum of my experiences, me and my band’s musical vision, and the perspective that I’m attempting to illuminate and share. We’re a hodge-podge of influences, much like most bands, and I guess what’s unique is my voice – for better or for worse.
PEV: What kind of music were you into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
BD: I just hunted down the first tape I ever had. It had Dion, The Everly Brothers, Richie Valens and stuff. My first favorite band was Aerosmith as a kid and then The Doors in my teens. My mom loved CSN&Y and had a ton of great records I’ve since allocated to my own crate. My first concert was Live, which was unimpressive but that night I was taken by PJ Harvey, who is a huge influence.
PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene when you first started? What was your first show like?
BD: I’m still trying to break into the music scene. My first show was the only one I remember being nervous. Also there was a lot of stage fog. Music beyond the mere creation is a horrifying beast, much like the Hunter S. Thompson quote. I’ve been quite naturally letting go lately. Paring it down to its essence as much as I can.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Brandon Decker show?
BD: Authenticity. We give as much as we can musically and try to create an experience. It’s dynamic, thoughtful, and, from our standpoint, meaningful. We continue to try and provide an experience each show. I make music because I feel thoroughly. I perform music to do the same with the audience in a transactional experience.
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage to perform?
BD: At a concert I’m just ready to play. My neurons are in a frenzy. I’m never nervous, just full of nervous energy and eager to perform. It’s somewhat draining and somewhat exhilarating. We, as a band, are working more and more on connecting before the performance to really go up as an organism. Then I kinda go into another place. But at first, I’m just eager to make sounds with my band for the people there.
PEV: What is the best part about being on stage in front of an audience?
BD: The best part of being on stage in front of an audience is when they are there with you. When the reciprocity happens. They are quiet in the quiet times and moving in the moving times and breathing with us. That’s the goal each show and when it happens, it is other-worldly.
PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music?
BD: The underlying inspiration of my music is processing existence. Its words, tones, melodies and a “feel” that I want to explore and convey. Experience.
PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out, do you ever look back on your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?
BD: The biggest thing I think about is how I probably couldn’t do it all over again. “How did I do this?!” It has been a challenging journey from nothingness to somewhere slightly above nothingness. I’m grateful I have an audience. From the early stages that’s all I wanted was someone to hear it and feel it with me. I’d say I’ve been fortunate enough to have that. From a career standpoint, I can’t imagine going through what I did the last two years, let alone hauling around in a minivan with a bunch of fellow yahoos with no idea what we were doing, sleeping on floors, playing on streets and just living with abandon.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
BD: The only “TV programming” I’ve enjoyed in the last 5 years was Netflix’s Series of Unfortunate Events.
PEV: What happens when you hit a brick wall when writing? What are your methods to get over it?
BD: I’m mostly in a self-imposed writing block due to how busy I am surviving and performing. It’s challenging to write when you’re working 15 or 18 hours a day, travelling and what not. For me, I just need the time. I guess it’s like anything – it works when I can provide presence. Like any relationship I suppose.
PEV: How do you think the industry has changed since you first started out?
BD: Oh man. I think the internet, the countless booking websites and accessibility has changed everything. It’s harder for me to book shows now than it was five years ago when I had next to nothing going on, I believe simply due to how many people are out there doing it. I’m trying to concern myself less with “the industry” and more with creation.
PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release, Into the Red? What was the writing process like for this work?
BD: Well the new album is a “Best Of” of sorts. So, in that regard, I feel confident that it is a collection of strong songs but still a solid unit. Most of my albums have been concept albums to a degree, but I think Into the Red holds up because it’s this snapshot of the last eight years. The only new song I wrote for this was an anti-Trump song, which happened fairly easily ;). Writing for me is similar to performing. I happen upon a “zone” and just ride it, navigate it.
PEV: With all your traveling, is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
BD: Europe! Also the south. New Orleans, Atlanta.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?
BD: You know, fortunately, your family and true friends just see you as you. I don’t think anyone is too impressed. I know my parents have been a bit more surprised once publications they’ve heard of started talking about my work. For anyone who calls me “Brandon”, rather than “Decker”. I know they’re the real deal. I think those inner circle folks are proud of how hard I’ve continued to work and grow as an artist.
PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
BD: In my spare time I am hanging with my son, jumping into as many natural bodies of water as possible, and hiking. Maybe some psychedelics. Yoga.
PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why?
BD: Present – Nick Cave. Past – Leonard Cohen. Each of those men are like the Holy Grail to me.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
BD: I don’t know about up and coming. However, some of my favorite artists that aren’t well-known enough for my taste are Adam Faucett and Wesley Hartley and Dustin Hamman (Run On Sentence). Those cats are all brilliant songwriters and huge influences on me and my work.
PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what would you do for a career?
BD: Well, I just started a new, second career actually – driving Jeeps of tourists around the backwoods of Sedona’s high desert mountains. It’s a welcomed new outlet. I have a goal to begin teaching yoga in the next few years.
PEV: So, what is next for Brandon Decker?
BD: We’re working diligently to get the new album out there and touring it as much as the universe warrants. I want to rest a bit. It’s been a nine year push. I need a breather. But if the opportunities come, I will take them. I love performing and making music. I might go join a Buddhist monastery. I might take up surfing. I want to make art and love hard.
For more information, click to http://deckermusic.org/.