Here at Scene Point Blank, a lot of records show up in the ol’ inbox. Needless to say, many don’t get the attention they deserve (and some get more). I can’t remember what first appealed about Pujol, but I invested my attention in reviewing X File on Main Street and was hooked. Since then, Pujol has joined with indie heavyweight Saddle Creek and released the full-length United States of Being.
Daniel Pujol is constantly writing new material, at a level that outpaced his peers and led to a rotating cast of musicians. While this works well within a tightly-knit music community as in Nashville, it gets more complicated to hit the road. Scene Point Blank caught up with Pujol to ask about forming a full-time band, about his scholarly pursuits and, of course, why he bares his nipples on so many record covers.
Scene Point Blank: Do you always play with a 3-piece, or do you mix it up based on who is available?
Pujol: It’s been who is available in the past, but I have always been working towards a steady line-up. Right now I am playing with a 4-piece. I prefer a 4 piece, but have had to work to be able to afford a 4-piece band as well as find the right members. The band I have now plays on the LP I'm finishing and I want to keep them as a band for as long as humanly possible.
"Performing is an extension of the writing. It is an interpretation of the writing."
- Daniel Pujol
Scene Point Blank: How does this affect the chemistry? Does it feel like a hired band when you’re constantly playing with different musicians?
Pujol: In the past there have been periods where it felt like a hired band. I don't like it when it does. Sometimes there is a misunderstanding about whether it’s about a lead singer with a backing band or [about] the songs. It's about the songs. It just depends on the attitude of the players and if they want to "just play a gig" or have fun making live arrangements as a band.
Scene Point Blank: As you gain popularity and, at least in theory, increase your ability to earn a living as a musician, can you see yourself adopting a more traditional approach to band make-up?
Pujol: That's the goal!
Scene Point Blank: The Record Store Day 7” brought in some additional instrumentation and depth in the overall sound. Is this a one-off thing, or something you plan to experiment with more?
Pujol: The Record Store Day 7" is a return to how I usually like to make recordings. I have not had a material space to rehearse or record in for a year-and-a-half and I recently found one. Now that I have material space, I can make recordings closer to what I am interested in creating. The drummer, Doni Schroader, and I have been working on recording the next LP. That 7" is rough mixes/arrangements of two songs off that LP.
Scene Point Blank: It seems that you always have a new release or two on the horizon, which I take to mean you’re always writing new music. Do you have a preference in terms of performing vs. writing?
Pujol: Writing. It only requires me to be in charge of myself and the room I can use. Performing is an extension of the writing. It is an interpretation of the writing.
Scene Point Blank: There’s been a lot of press about the Nashville scene, and the artists in town seem to have some commonalities in style and approach. What about the city, do you think, affects this tone?
Pujol: Everyone has a good attitude and is interested in a certain corner of an overall thing. Cooperation over competition.
Scene Point Blank: Has this always been the case, or did you see things picking up momentum at a specific point in time (or with a heavily influential musician)?
Pujol: What's going on now started with house shows in, like, 2007. I'm really into Jonathan Richman. I think some of us were also interested in different definitions of what makes something "heavy" too.
Scene Point Blank: As you’ve made connections with some more (nationally) established bands and labels, you’ve been playing larger venues. What do you get out of playing such varied settings as festival stages and basement shows—what do you like about getting outside of the traditional “punk rock” type shows that are limited to DIY spaces? What do you miss?
Pujol: I like learning how to play on different kinds of stages. Different size stages are all totally different. So is inside versus outside. Occasionally I miss the closeness of basements, but it's a neat challenge to try to achieve that in different settings with the band and an audience. Things change. No big deal.
Scene Point Blank: In reviews I wrote on X File and United States… I’ve called your lyrics “direct and to the point” which, in my take, is fitting for the structure and style of your songs. Do you agree with that analysis? What is your approach to tying your ideas to a 3-minute song?
Pujol: Pop song format is an interesting art form to mess with in 2013. I try to be direct and to the point. Much easier in type or lyrics than in life. There is a fiction in song where what happened and what you meant can meet. I’ll take that analysis!
Scene Point Blank: And on an unrelated note, what’s the story behind showing your nipples on your album covers?
Pujol: I'm not a graphic designer. If I'm in charge of an album cover, it's going to be funny. No eyes, two nipples.
Scene Point Blank: In prep for this interview, I found mention of your academic life. Namely that you wrapped up your masters degree at the same time as your debut for Saddle Creek. Which one caused more stress? Are you more focused on music now that you’re out of school?
Pujol: Definitely the record. In school, I only have to worry about myself doing a good job. Making that record was like directing a movie and running a small business at the same time. I'm more focused on music because it’s what I'm doing full-time. Especially the craft of performing.
Scene Point Blank: Do you have any intent to pursue an academic employment while still playing music? Do you think the two schedules can be combined? Examples I can think of have very limited tour schedules these days.
Pujol: Probably someday, but I haven't decided what field to really, really specialize in yet. Still looking around.
Scene Point Blank: You’ve also mentioned an interest in pursuing a doctorate. What do you think your main focus would be?
Pujol: Last year I was really interested in studying the Internet. I did my graduate thesis on social media as a means to organize in a new way, but not an end in itself. The last year has been interesting in that regard. I won't go into heavy brain talk on that. I'm not sure yet. Something that I can be useful with and that I am interested in.