David Berman has kept a low profile since bursting into the American Music Scene with his band The Silver Jews, which he formed alongside with Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich (both Ex-Pavement) back in 1989. Over the years he released a bunch of critically acclaimed albums (“The Natural Bridge”, “American Water”), but always refused to tour. With his latest record “Tanglewood Numbers”, it now seems that DB finally comes to terms with his own purpose. Berman is also a poet, who published a highly recommended collection of snapshot poems (“Actual Air”) in 1999.
Sonic Reducer: You live in Nashville nowadays. How do you spend your days there?
David Berman: I read, watch the news, take notes on what I see. I take the dog for a walk that everydays presents me with a choice: to take Heart Attack Hill or the flat way home. This is how, every day, my courage is tested.
Sonic Reducer: Are you connected with other Nashville artists like Brent Stewart, Will Oldham or
Harmony Korine? Can you imagine to collaborate with any of them (in an extended way) at any time? Or do you feel more comfortable creating/ writing on your own?
David Berman: Will and Harmony are yesterday’s papers compared to Brent Stewart. Will and I tried to make a record in 1995 and it didn’t work. Harmony doesn’t mind that movies bore me. He’s a kindhearted nashville jew who’s seen the abyss.
Sonic Reducer: 17 years after you had formed the Silver Jews, you finally agreed to tour with the latest record “Tanglewood Numbers”. Why now?
David Berman: I was unwilling to take the leap of faith it required until just recently when I stopped being a pussy about everything.
Sonic Reducer: While touring, you played sold out shows, made memories and probably new friends. Do you think this experience will have an impact on your art/ writing?
David Berman: I don’t know. I am about to find out as I start writing another album. Maybe there will be call-outs to cities we’ve played. Nu, Ludmilla in Barcelona…
Sonic Reducer: “Tanglewood Numbers” sounds more rough and edgy than previous records. What’s the reason behind this?
David Berman: It’s bristling with menthol life because I am inner-directed and focused on making a successful album plus.
Sonic Reducer: Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you have any books or new bands that excite you?
David Berman: Yesterday I listened to Camper van Beethoven “II and III” for the first time in 15 years. I was driving around going ‚ha‘ that’s where I got that move, etc. I think our influences are below our abilities to detect them.
Sonic Reducer: Do you think to create truthful and significant art, means to lead an non-linear lifestyle, which may contains failure?
David Berman: No, just because I can think of too many artists who lead linear lives and were unable to accept failure. Tom Scholz, anyone?
Sonic Reducer: Have you got any new releases planned for 2006/2007?
David Berman: I’m going to try to get an album out next years. There’s supposed to be a hot chip remix of “Punks in the beerlight”, but I haven’t heard it yet.
Sonic Reducer: Any plans concerning more Silver Jews dates in Europe (as well as playing in Germany)?
David Berman: I can’t wait to play Germany. My favourite European country (including England). I guess there haven’t been any offers for shows but we’ll see.
Sonic Reducer: Any final words?
David Berman: Give my love to all German Silver Jews fans. L’shana tova!