Destroyer is the pseudonym of Dan Bejar, a musician who has played a hand in The New Pornographers, Swan Lake, and far more. Solo he has released upward of ten albums, yet somehow he’ll be making it to Australia for the very first time this year.
Trimming down from a full band ensemble into a solo act on the stage, he’ll be playing a headline slot at Brisbane Festival’s Spiegeltent plus a few other choice dates. Ahead of it all, we caught up for a chat.
12 albums down the line and with countless shows in his back pocket, we chat to Dan Bejar of Destroyer about his first Australian tour.
HAPPY: Hey Dan, thanks for taking the time. What are you up to at the moment?
DAN: It’s summer up here. I’ve been lollygagging some. Playing a few solo shows here and there, Vegas, Saskatoon. Getting ready to go to Europe with the full band. Slowly writing new songs.
HAPPY: It seems almost unbelievable that Destroyer hasn’t made it to Australia thus far. How long has this been on the cards for you?
DAN: It’s come up a bit in the past, but usually once promotors find out there are seven or eight people in the band things get real challenging. Once I decided to come as a solo act, things got easier.
HAPPY: Have you been Down Under with any of your previous bands?
DAN: I’ve never been to Australia. This will be my first time, in any capacity.
HAPPY: I always found the idea of an artist with 10+ albums to their name playing for an audience on the far side of the world (who may not know them well) interesting. Does your impression of how familiar a crowd may be change the way you approach a show?
DAN: I tend to be slightly less combative on stage with people who could care less, or are merely curious. But at this point (re 10+ albums) I’m really not trying to win anyone over. It’s amazing to travel great distances and encounter someone who’s heard a song I have sung. I am not so jaded in that respect. When I play a solo show, all the songs are paired down and incredibly minimal and sound very little like their recorded versions. So it can estrange even people who know the back catalogue real well. It also gives me a chance to play older songs that the band never touches, or new songs that I’m just working out.
HAPPY: There seems to be quite a cult of personality around yourself in the States. Is it ever comforting to know you’re heading somewhere that may not necessarily apply?
DAN: Comforting unless it’s replaced with things like indifference or disgust.
HAPPY: If you had to tell Australians where to start with Destroyer, where would you point them?
DAN: The most popular Destroyer record is a sad, mid-tempo disco record called Kaputt, that came out in 2011. But records like Destroyer’s Rubies or Poison Season probably touch more on the kind of writing that gets me off. None of it will sound like what I do live solo, so recommendations at this point could be a very empty exercise. One I usually refrain from anyway.
HAPPY: There will be some great locals for you to see at Brisbane Festival and Yours & Owls. Do you keep an eye on Australian music?
DAN: I try and search out new music once in a while. And sometimes I’ll hear something I really like and it ends up being Australian. Like Rolling Blackouts, or Royal Headache or certain Total Control songs.
HAPPY: Listening to the instrumental variation in your work, I’m having trouble imagining what Destroyer could look like on stage. What’s the current set up?
DAN: The current set up is me travelling around by myself with an acoustic guitar. But more often than not it’s a seven or eight piece, rock band with horns, where I just sing and whack a tambourine every once in a while.
HAPPY: Really looking forward to seeing it. Thanks for the chat!
You can also catch Destroyer on any of the tour dates below.
Fri 21 Sept – Mojos, Fremantle
Sat 22 Sept – Wave Rock Weekender, Hyden
Sat 22 Sept – Brisbane Festival, Brisbane
Tues 25 Sept – The Gov, Adelaide
Thurs 27 Sept – The Howler, Melbourne
Fri 28 Sept – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Sun 30 Sept – Yours & Owls, Wollongong