decker.

Arizona singer-songwriter Brandon Decker says making his latest EP Snake River Blues was a matter of urgency. What’s the rush for a musician who has been at it steadily since 2009 and has accomplished so much in a short time?

Performing under the name decker., he has forged a path in psychedelic desert folk-rock, self-released six studio records in seven years, toured extensively at about 150 shows per year, had several songs featured on the HBO series Vice; completed a residency at Rockwood Music Hall in New York, and been filmed along the way as the subject of a documentary.

But for a do-it-all creative like Decker it is not about past achievements, it is about striving to do more with no time to squander. “Urgency at the time was the real feeling. We had been going really hard on our last record [Patsy]. We came home and it felt like we just hadn’t quite hit our stride. That spirit was in the music right out the gate. Urgency,” Decker said. “Urgency to create an even better piece of art, to leave nothing on the table in that way; urgency to do something bold, to reach people, to get better at our craft.”

And so he sings in the first line of “The Phantom,” “I don’t wanna waste a minute of life.”

“The Holy Ghost” led the way for the five-song Snake River Blues, released in September 2016. “That was the first song I wrote on the record. It was just kind of stream of consciousness. It happened in a matter of probably an hour and a half,” Decker said. “That’s when I knew I was going to write the Snake River Blues record.”

decker.'s music is often described as eerie, haunting and mysterious. It surely has an element of danger and intrigue through its atmospheric, dramatic guitar and its soulful, genuine lyrics. As a result, it conjures up feelings of unrest and unresolvedness, yet encourages overcoming discord and betrayal. Listeners are led almost immediately to a vast desert, transported from the first note.

“Certainly I don’t feel like putting on a decker. CD is like listening to The Monkees,” Decker said. “I don’t feel like it is cheerful, but I don't feel like it is gratuitous in [its darkness]. I believe life is both sides of the coin. All of these things, yin and yang, are present for everybody in some way. I definitely have always, without question, been more drawn to exploring that when I am making music.”

Other factors shaped the album, including conflict with band members and inspiration via American blues artist Muddy Waters and his 1968 album Electric Mud. “A lot of the things on this record, besides the urgency, came from...band and personnel stuff...dealing with treachery, weird motives and agendas of not-self-aware people, and tie that up with a little bit of Muddy Waters,” Decker said. “I was off listening to a lot of Muddy Waters at the time.”

Over the years, decker. has performed with several musicians in various formations — as a full band, with a hired rhythm section, enlisting backup singers. Today decker. is touring to promote Snake River Blues as a stripped down duo.

“Logistically, sustainably on all levels, it just seemed a lot wiser for us to move forward as two,” Decker said. “Together we are recreating the whole thing.”

Amber Johnson plays bass, organ, and piano. Decker plays guitar and more. “The Thumper is a piece of wood with a speaker on it that sounds like a bass drum, which I stomp on with my left foot,” Decker said. “On my other foot I have a cymbal and a tambourine and I kind of alternate between them.”

Filmmaker Matty Steinkamp, owner of Sundawg Media, has done most decker. music videos and has known Decker for 10 years. Steinkamp directed a documentary on the Snake River Blues project, from its early stages in February 2016 to the album’s release and Big Apple residency in September 2016.

“It follows me from this Phoenix show we did to start raising some money then it goes on the road, in the studio, follows me around the desert, then it comes out in New York,” Decker said.

decker. will play at Amnesia in San Francisco on November 18.

“I have never loved playing a set of songs live more than this record for sure,” he said.

decker., Kelly McFarling, Megan Keely
Amnesia
November 18, 2016
9:30pm, $7

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