Dan Bejar has put together some dense records under the Destroyer moniker during the past decade or so, but none of them is nearly as impressive as his latest, Destroyer’s Rubies. Bejar might not be the most accessible songwriter around, but all nine minutes of the terrifyingly good album opener ‘Rubies’ — not to mention pretty much every other song on the record — are worth the challenge. It’s also worth mentioning that Bejar still plays occasional songwriter/apathetic wingman in the Vancouver power-pop think tank the New Pornographers, but we promise, this is the last word on that. The current incarnation of Destroyer comes to Avalon on March 28 with Magnolia Electric Co. And no, we don’t know what the hell he’s doing at Avalon either.
The L: You’ve always spoken pretty dourly about long touring stints. How do you expect this one to turn out? Dan Bejar: This one’s pretty short — 12 shows in 16 days. It’s just a lot of driving, but aside from that not much to complain about. Got no expectations.
The L: The Destroyer lineup has changed pretty drastically over the course of all your albums. Why do you find it necessary to always play with different people? DB: Actually, the Rubies outfit consists of some pretty key players in the Destroyer back catalogue over the last nine or ten years. I don’t find it necessary to always play with different people, regardless of whether it might sometimes be the case that I do play with varying formations of the Destroyer band. It’s fun to play in different groups, don’t you think? Anyway, I suspect these folks might be around for a little while, should they so choose.
The L: You seem to have no problem writing longer-playing songs, especially on this new album. Do you ever consciously try to write something “epic”? What do you think is the key to holding your listener’s attention? DB: I don’t think length and “epic” have anything to do with each other. Some songs have a lot of words in them, and some parts of a song, a band gets its claws into and doesn’t want to let go of just for the sake of the radio edit. I think most of the listeners who are going to bail on a Destroyer song do so after 30 seconds. I don’t think they stick around for the five-minute mark. I don’t know what the key is to holding someone’s attention...There are few mediums where holding someone’s attention for six or seven minutes is considered a feat of any kind.
The L: There are lyrics in a couple different songs on this record about the “American Underground” that a lot of people would interpret as pretty direct statements. Did you intend for these allusions to have some specific meaning, or even specific audience? DB: No specific meaning, aside from what those two words might mean when placed side by side. The specific audience is no more specific than the idea of who you think it is that might be aware of a certain song existing. The fact that the expression “American Underground” exists in two different songs might draw to it needless attention.
The L: A few lyrics on the new album recall old songs and titles of yours — why the self-referencing? DB: I am not referencing myself. I am using the words ‘your blues’ for the first time in a song, and it happens to occur in two songs which do not appear on the album Your Blues. I can’t disallow people from thinking that it might reference an album I recorded back in 2003, whether that was my intention or not — the disallowance, that is.
The L: Needless to say, ‘Rubies’ is a pretty densely layered song. Is there any way you could shed some light on some of the images in it? DB: It’s one of the most literal things I’ve ever written. Everything described in the song happened in real life, excepting the part about the dueling cyclones jack-knifing.