Post Rock Podcast: David Berman of Silver Jews, Part 2


When he goes to the Old Stamp Office, he always wears a camelhair suit.

The second part of the interview with David Berman (download here, stream below) is like some beautiful dream I've often had - me and Berman, sitting around, dissing Radiohead. And it wasn't even me who brought it up! But that's just a few moments. Berman is certainly not afraid to talk about what he finds wrong with the current state of music, but at the same time he doesn't find himself infallible in the slightest. As we continued to talk about his shift from someone who released an album once every few years and did the occasional interview to someone who tours and does press junkets, he had this to say:

"How disappointed was I to find out that (reclusive singer/songwriter/weirdo) Jandek was going to reveal himself and be playing shows. And how relevant is the music anymore when, if to you, part of Jandek's aesthetic was the fact that you didn't know who he was? And him coming out, it changes the rules of the game. And me coming out and playing, it changes the rules of the game. And maybe some people on the other side, it changes whether they're a fan or not. It's enough of a formal difference. If somebody told me that they thought there was something corrupt about me playing live, I would say I have to agree with that. If someone told me that they no longer liked the Silver Jews because of that, I would understand. I would understand that they had developed a relationship based on the music. I regret, in some ways, that the Silver Jews couldn't continue to be that kind of project."

It was a bit bizarre to hear him say this because diehard Silver Jews fans like myself waited years and years for him to finally hit the road. But instead of focusing on how that tour was the highlight of the year for so many people (trust me, I met them) here he is thinking about the handful of folks who might hold it against him because he changed the rules of game, because he broke the purity of the art. Later when we talked about the current state of indie music and out-of-control hype, he started off by saying that he's uncomfortable with some of the praise he gets because it fits too perfectly into the model of praising cool rock bands. (Sorry, David.)

"I welcome people challenging what I've done on the level of what I've done. But I do get embarrassed about adulation that I see when it comes my way, if it comes my way. It's embarrassing because I recognize it as part of this complete affirmation of the idea of a 'cool' rock band, of which there can be nothing wrong if a band is cool and they're rising. There can be nothing wrong with them ... The kind of patronization that goes on with people like Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Mick Jagger on one end and then what goes down on the other end as far as adulation for a buzz band, it's sickening. I just see the baby boomers' technique is being used by the bloggers. If you were to actually apply any of the artistic principles that people used to apply and judge standards of music by, there's a lot of foolishness going on. There's very little wisdom going. There's certainly very little wisdom being communicated. But nobody wants to rain on the parade and nobody wants to find out they're not invited to the party. And in a way I think that we're going through a period right now where people have no faith in any institutions except what's popular."

Here is a link to the Fader article mentioned at the beginning of the interview. It's a pretty intense read. Streaming the interview below and below that enjoy the video for "Punks in the Beerlight," maybe my favorite Silver Jews song. The man knows how to start an album with a lyric that will stick with you.

David Berman Interview, Part 2 - washingtonpost.com - Post Rock


By David Malitz |  June 18, 2008; 1:32 PM ET Interviews
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