Destroyer w/Jon McKiel Monday, November 7, 8pm The Seahorse Tavern, 2037 Gottingen Street sold out
For over two decades, Vancouver's Dan Bejar has been writing and performing unpredictable songs under the moniker Destroyer. His dense lyric sheets vary from lilting laments to snarling ramblings but always carry a remarkable sincerity—Bejar's certainly one of the most innovative songwriters working today and is arguably one of the best.
He's been spending the fall dotting across the continent, diving deep into his intellectual roller coaster of a catalogue for solo performances featuring only his voice and acoustic guitar—a tour that will see him play the Seahorse Tavern on Monday.
Bejar's last two Destroyer albums, 2011's Kaputt* and last year's Poison Season, were laden with intricate instrumentation—the former featured the horns and synths of '80s soft rock and the latter was graced with delicate strings and warm piano. Those two albums, and Kaputt in particular, were also Bejar's first true experience of music as business; they launched him into playing on late-night TV, being featured at major festivals and participating in the kinds of things that his poetic, contrarian songs seem to fundamentally contrast with.
Performing solo, Bejar says he'll have to bypass most of the material from the past five years or so. Still, he maintains that this is not a reaction against the increasing popularity or commercialization of Destroyer, but rather a change of pace that allows him to revisit and explore different corners of his project.
"There's a couple songs off Poison Season that I can bang out on guitar, and there's one or two from Kaputt that I can as well," he says. "But it's true that those songs were mostly written on synthesizer or piano, in the case of Poison Season. But I have to ignore all of that stuff, because the idea of me having to replicate what an eight-piece band does with my limited acoustic guitar skills would be torturous for everyone involved."
Bejar has also been testing out a handful of new, "loping," "earnest," guitar-based songs on the road—the first time he's ever done so before recording an album.
"I'm planning on going into the studio to make a record the minute I get home," he says. "So part of what I've been doing this fall by playing these [new] songs in front of people is just forcing myself to kind of get inside the songs and really figure out what works and what doesn't, what goes together.
"I really see the records as individual things, especially because the circumstances change for each record—like different people playing on them," he says. "They change enough that each record feels like specific things unto themselves, each one. And I like that."