Sedona, Arizona-based mustachioed songwriter Brandon Decker, who records and performs under the name ‘decker.’ is fresh off of an almost year-long tour in support of his most recent release, Patsy; the mesmerizing collection of dark, atmospheric, and uncomfortably honest tunes runs the gamut of influences–folk, gospel, rock, and even psychedelia. “It’s exploring our innate weaknesses; how our lives are reactive and how we grapple with the inevitability living has to offer. When people ask what kind of music I play…I don’t really know what to say. All I can really say is that the desert is integral to my sound,” says the songwriter. Decker recently answered a few questions for us about his beloved desert home, songs named after late Wu-Tang rappers, and truck stop whiffle ball games:
Mother Church Pew: You’re based in Arizona, and the desert has had a big impact on your music. Can you tell us specifically what kind of inspiration and influence your surroundings have provided?
Brandon Decker: The desert has changed me. The desert is in me. I don’t think anyone can live not affected by their surroundings. If you live in New York, it impacts you. If you live in the middle of Kansas, that does too. I love where I live in Sedona. It’s a small town — part desert, part mountains — and it does have that almost surreal feel that beautiful geographic locations have. I’m driving around anytime I’m home and watching these other worldly sunsets on these huge red rocks – it’s just osmosis I guess.
MCP: Your latest album, “Patsy” is bookended with “O.D.B.” and “Ol’ Dirty Revival”, two different takes on the same song. What was the inspiration behind that?
BD: Well the song was written in the style of the latter. I wanted it to feel like a gospel church choir singing on some Sunday somewhere or like the old Negro spirituals. But I was also really proud of the song and, at the time, I felt like no one would listen to the whole thing as slow as it was so I tried out a more upbeat version, which also felt fun at the time. In hindsight, “O.D.B.” doesn’t feel like “me” and we’ve come full circle because we actually start most of our sets our with the slower revival version now.
MCP: You’ve recently completed your biggest U.S. tour to date; what was that experience like for you? Any interesting stories you can share?
BD: We were really blessed. All things considered the tour was mostly upshot. We’re a working band and we scrap for every inch. That’s just the way it is right now. We played really well. We connected with family, friends and fans and made new fans. We seemingly got better with every show and stayed positive. I’ve never felt tighter, more cohesive, confident and compelling in our live show. My brain is still recovering and it’s all a bit of a blur but we swam in the ocean, slept in the Redwoods, played wiffle ball at truck stops, scattered around Manhattan on a couple perfect fall nights and marched around in Washington D.C. It was a beautiful time.
MCP: If you could go back in time, what sage wisdom would you impart to the young Brandon Decker?
BD: That’s a tough one. I believe that our mistakes shape us. As I age I often declare I would NEVER go back to younger me without wisdom accrued; my youth was just painful. That said, with wisdom, I’d say don’t be so hard on yourself. Go to nature more. That and college debt will be insurmountable.
MCP: What’s next for decker.?