By Melissa Fossum
By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
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"We're changed people," Brandon Decker says firmly, describing the aftermath of the nearly fatal rollover car accident that forever altered the lives of the members of Sedona-based indie-folk band decker. It's a story that's been told many times, but it bears repeating:
Last August, en route to Santa Cruz, California, on a mini-tour, the band's trailer tire blew out, sending the van down Interstate 5 like a missile. Singer Kelly Cole was expelled from the van, breaking her cervical vertebrae and requiring air evacuation to a hospital. She made a full recovery, and the rest of the band survived with minor scratches and bruises.
Where do you go after a near-death experience like that? For decker., the answer was "back to the studio." After a successful Kickstarter campaign, numerous fundraising shows, and the generosity of the music community, decker. was able to replace instruments damaged in the crash and complete its fourth album, Slider. Now, the band is gearing up for a South by Southwest tour with Palms, The Wiley One, and others, as well as prepping for an album release show at The Sail Inn on Friday, March 1.
Over the past few months, the band has had much to reflect upon. Bassist Bryant Vazquez has said the accident brought the group closer, as close as siblings. And Cole has called the experience "humbling and expansive."
"I feel the same way," Decker says via phone on his way to Flagstaff to pick up bassist Bryant Vazquez before heading back to the Valley to promote the show. "I'm really glad that Kelly feels that way because I felt that way from very early on. I felt guilty at first . . ."
Now, Decker says, he feels gratitude "across the board." The first song written for Slider actually was "In the Van," penned en route to last year's SxSW festival. Decker acknowledges the prophetic nature of the title.
"The words are eerily . . . ominous when you think about what happened," Decker says. "If you think of the symbolism to it, it applies to the accident . . . That's crazy to me."
Given the cosmic foreshadowing and portentousness of its lyrics, Slider remains a mystifying listen. Tracks like "Speak in Tongues" or "Shadow Days" have metaphysical tinges that draw out the alt-country textures with a humble vigor. Even when Decker turns on himself, as on "Robes of a Prophet," expressing his guilt, trailing out his remorse, admitting what Aristotle would call his "hamartia," we can glimpse the true strength of decker.
"Killing Me," one of the album's more haunting songs, was used in a sultry music video starring Vazquez and Melody Michelle (of Palms fame) as a Badlands-esque killer couple. Decker, who plays a robbed grocer in the video, described the day as a blast, filled with creative energy.
"We were fully guerrilla, man," Decker says, laughing. "We were going in restaurants and making a scene and renting hotels under false pretenses. You know, holding up convenience stores. It's the first video that I think really I've been a part of that I'm so proud of."