There’s no place on Earth quite like Arizona for Brandon Decker, which might be why he’s recording a live album here.
The songwriter, who records and tours as decker., says his move to the San Francisco Bay Area last year was difficult after living in Sedona for a decade. It’s been filled with a lot of trade-offs. Despite the beautiful scenery and spending more time with his son, the lack of connections and the cost-of-living increase have forced Decker to make some adjustments.
“It’s a lot like drinking,” he says. “There was a time when I could really put them away and bounce back. Now I can’t party so hard.”
The psychedelic folk rocker has come back to visit every once in a while for a show, but this upcoming performance on Friday, May 10, at Last Exit Live feels like a triumphant return home.
The new challenges in his life have given Decker a chance to do a lot of soul-searching and find opportunities to grow. He says he doesn’t feel like he’s starting over as a musician, but he believes he won’t be able to build the large community in California he has enjoyed in Arizona. He’s been chipping away at it when he can, but right now he wants to make sure his priorities are in order.
“I’m really doing my best to ask what I need to do to be a human, a man, a dad, and a professional,” he says.
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If you’ve seen a decker. show, then you know the troubadour has the role of an experienced performer down. He has such electrifying power behind the mic that looking away from the stage would be a futile act. To capture that intensity for the live album, Decker looked to stand-up comedians for help. He also cites a powerful solo show by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James as an inspiration. The record will be released by Brooklyn-based label Royal Potato Family when it’s completed.
“I’ve been performing solo a lot in the last year and a half,” he says. “I learned this thing I always wanted to have: letting the energy and presence carry the same spirit of the band.”
Decker feels like this is the perfect time in his career to record a live album. For one, it will be an extension of Born to Wake Up, the ambitious and deeply emotional full-length record that came out last September. He says he isn’t ready to lay those songs to rest just yet.
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The optimism in that album was drawn from spending time with family and taking long hikes in the healing vortex of Sedona. Despite the change in scenery, Decker says that being away from the Grand Canyon State hasn’t changed his outlook on life. While the hustle and bustle of the city haven't been as therapeutic as he’d like, he’s had some beautiful and mystical moments in California.
“The land is amazing and lush,” Decker says. “There is this one spot I go to. There are these little waterfalls all over with these huge redwoods. The air is so moist. It’s fucking alive and super-mystical and healing.
“I think the one thing I had in Sedona was feeling a connection to the land, but once you have that in life, you have it everywhere.”