Like most of the output from Vancouver indie-rock band Destroyer, Trouble in Dreams is a beguiling album that's hard to pin down. Full of surrealistic tales of lost love and missed opportunities, Dreams' songs defy easy categorization. We tracked down the band's creative engine, guitarist and vocalist Dan Bejar, for answers.
New Times: Do people come to you with interpretations of what they think your songs mean?
Den Bejar: People look at writing and language different than I do. I don't write in code — there's no code to crack. I guess the current view of "smart" writing is writing that's tricky or has many different messages at once. I don't buy into that — I just want to write one extremely poetic line after the other, as continuously as possible. So when people ask me what a song means, all I can tell them is that every single line means exactly what it says.
Destroyer, Devon Williams, and Vine Land are scheduled to perform on Sunday, May 18.
NT: When you perform, you seem to go into a trance. Is writing like that for you, too?
Bejar: The writing process is kinda thoughtless, idle — it involves just me going on a walk, really. I wrote the bulk of the songs [on Dreams] while I was living in Spain. It was just really comfortable and natural — just me sitting around strumming a guitar and barking out words when I felt like it.
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NT: As an outsider, what's your take on America now that you're touring here?
Bejar: I'm kinda from here — my mom's American and I've lived in the States. But my relationship to the country — I'm usually pretty torn-up about it. There's things I really love and other things that I'm constantly flabbergasted by. I also don't have much love of travel. That's kinda why touring gets me down. I like to go to one place and stay there. I know I have this reputation for not enjoying performing, but I actually do like playing music. I'm just not sure if I'm built to be in front of an audience night after night after night for three or four weeks straight.
NT: A lot of musicians won't admit that — it's like they're afraid of sounding ungrateful to their fans for showing up.
Bejar: Not enjoying touring and not enjoying playing live are two very different things. I think you can really love playing music in front of people and still kinda hate the machinery involved in touring. I mean, it's just human to have good nights and bad nights. It makes it more interesting instead of being, like, a pogo stick born to entertain [laughs]. But if there's some sense of struggle involved, and you actually pull through, it's kind of exciting.