How can you run a music site if you have no taste? This is a question I faced last week, when a publicist emailed me with a bee in her bonnet because Noisey, VICE's music site, decided not to premiere the new PUJOL single. Seriously, Noisey? You guys aren’t into good music? Isn’t that, like, your job? I know you’d rather spend what little time you’ve got left on this dangerous dying sphere talking about Drake, but let me fill you in on a little industry secret: No one gives a rat’s sack what Drake is doing or saying, and we'd all rather be vibing to some crunchy-as-fuck garage rock before the sun blows up and we’re all dead.
Enter Daniel Pujol and his newest single, "Pitch Black." Dan is this scrappy punk kid from Nashville who’s played in about a gazillion bands and is one sweat-stained T-shirt away from being a gross crustie. When I first heard "Pitch Black," my jaw hit the floor and my penis stood up and started doing the Mashed Potato for a minute. It’s an old-fashioned rock 'n' roll jammy jam made by a dude who knows that pop music should kick your teeth in and be out the door in three minutes or less.
The song is off his upcoming record KLUDGE, which will be released through Saddle Creek on May 20. (You can pre-order that sucker right here.) We asked Dan to tell us what was going on with the artwork, and he sent us back a beast of an email that we're reprinting below in full, not only because it's too good to edit, but because it does a good job of explaining why we've got such a boner for this dude.
VICE: Hey Dan, what's going on with your new album cover?
Daniel Pujol: I wanted to make an album that sounded completely fictional. Like a cartoon nightmare. Tiny wind-up orchestra.
One without "RAWKIN'" caricatures of "in the moment authenticity." Guitar Centered quantification. No goofy loudness war production, etc. No organic cheese crackers.
I saw the new Superman and was disappointed by the obsessively realistic special effects. I don't understand the obsession with realism in media and entertainment, but the fiction and stories are fantastically nonexistent.
"Oh, man, that CGI Godzilla has a million scales! Oh, man, that guitar amp sounds exactly the way Guitar Center promised me it would!"
I don't care what Superman would really look like slamming through a building. However, I could be interested in the impossible myth of Superman. Superman could be a personification of human ideals thrown into dilemmas like a litmus test. I don't care what he eats for breakfast. I want the story. It is more important to me than exactly what that story would look like if it was real.
What does it say about our fantasies if we want them to look HD-realistic? What does it say about our reality if we are entertained by hyper-realistic fantasy?
I don't want to "be in the room with the drum set." Or eat breakfast with Superman. Or smell the singer's breath in stereo. Or count Godzilla's scales.
I want to be forced to know there is more than what I can think, see, or feel. That there are things I couldn't imagine on my own because they exist only in reference to themselves. As creations of someone else. To spite solipsism.
*These new "chimera" models are hodge-podged from old toy parts initially created by other people.
The LP's narrative is essentially a Self "breaking up" with his/her Sense Of Self and rediscovering Other People. Just long enough to be seduced by their own identity again. Luckily, the narrator realizes his/her flesh is not his/her identity. And this could be a cycle. Called growing.
There are a lot of "I/you" songs. Is the narrator singing to another person or his/herself or a concept or an idea, etc? I don't know.
The models help visualize this narrative without "counting Godzilla's scales."
I created an exercise based off of the Burroughs/Bowie "cut-up" method. I go to a specific used-toy store. They have a box of broken toys. I grab handfuls of old, dirty, toy parts and try to make "sense" of them by creating an "action figure." As I sort through them, an idea that the figure could personify begins to form. Then I Frankenstein it together. I give the abstract concept a body, the same way a joke has a punchline:
Things I see or read about
People turning into how they act
What a feeling would look like with a body
Personification of Thoughts, Desires, Fears
Personified fear of things we almost understand
"I" and "You" within the same person
Turning Misbehaviors Into Objects
Dirty Toys, used playthings endlessly repairing themselves, being abused and enjoyed by the world… yuck!
They are empowered but also limited by their body. This is one of the reason why they are funny to me. The Sacred Heart of Jesus has to ride on a golden saddle of only two muscular legs. The legs are impressive, but can't gallop. He can't GET anywhere. Looks great on paper, but getting around is more complicated. So he must settle for Sacred Heart the Human Kindness Kind. Net gain.
These models are the characters of the narrator's inner monologue. His/her OWN Superman Reboot. But its birth into our reality is grotesque and exists in reference only to the narrator's mind, life experience, his/her "myth."
They are Frankenstein's made from the toy graveyard of other human's dream, ideas, and playthings. Assuming thoughts and feelings are "toys" for humans to "play" with.
The models are the supporting cast of Someone rebooting their "Ideal-Self."
Is he/she committing the same mistake as the Superman Reboot? Or is it all he/she knows is possible because of the world he/she experiences? And it is the best he/she can do.
*I also became interested in the history of horror and folklore. Monsters being created as explanations of things existing on the cusp of human understanding. Demons to vampires to aliens to inter-dimensional shadow people. This determined the look of some of these models. Contemporary fear.
Is conspiracy theory the new folklore of horror? Lizard people, shadow people, chip implants, MRAP police state, etc.