When Vancouver multi-instrumentalist Dan Bejar christened his initially one-man band Destroyer in 1995, he hadn’t heard the classic Kiss album of the same name, and tracking heavy metal was the last thing on his mind. “All I knew about Kiss was ‘Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park,’ a vague movie memory from my childhood,” he says with a laugh. “Destroyer just seemed like a cool rock and roll name, and I liked terms of warfare in songs at the time. I was surprised no one had taken it.” Now the concept has grown into a full band, whose latest outing “Ken” is rooted in vintage New Wave. Bejar is also an on-again/off-again member of The New Pornographers.
Like Ry Cooder, you’ve made every Destroyer a sonic departure from its predecessor.
I never thought of him as a precedent for that, but I like the analogy. I just really like to do different things, and I’m not much on any given instrument, so I don’t have a distinct sound when I pick something up. It’s usually the weird words that I write and my voice that set me apart. Plus, my mind wanders and I have all sorts of interests in music. That being said, if you scan the last six or seven Destroyer albums, things move around, but there are also distinct sounds and playing styles that run through them, depending on who I’m collaborating with.
Do other composers not push themselves as much, stylistically?
I don’t push myself at all. I just want to get off on what I’m doing — it’s pure pleasure principle. But it’s kind of hard, though. I don’t find that making records has gotten any easier. The more competent I am with the craft of making them, the more the feeling of struggle exists, like, “Why is this happening?” The more you do something, the more self-conscious you become with it. So I’d better enjoy these songs I’m singing, if I’m going to go through all that. And I’m not very savvy when it comes to presenting myself to the world, or guessing what market demands might be.
But an inspiration for “Ken” was Suede’s great “Dog Man Star” album?
Well, I borrowed the title from an old Suede demo. But I was thinking more about U.K. indie bands from the mid- to late-‘80s, when I was a teenager and first getting into music, like New Order and all that John Hughes stuff. And also, I started listening to an Australian band called The Church for the first time in 25 years. Their chiming 12-strings and space-y but poppy sound was speaking both to the kid in me and my 45-year-old self.
IF YOU GO
Where: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 11
Contact: (415) 346-3000, www.ticketmaster.com