Indie rock institution David Pajo (Slint, Tortoise, Papa M) unveils a new project under his last name this week via Drag City. The set was inspired by the artist's move from Louisville to New York, wh
Indie rock institution David Pajo (Slint, Tortoise, Papa M) unveils a new project under his last name this week via Drag City. The set was inspired by the artist's move from Louisville to New York, which initially found him playing with the metal-influenced band Early Man.
"I hadn't played abrasive music in a long time and it was awesome," he says. "But I noticed when I came home and wanted to play guitar, I wanted to hear super quiet and mellow stuff. My roommate would usually be asleep so I'd have to sing really quietly to record ideas, and not wake anybody up."
The resulting music forms the bulk of "Pajo," a straight-up, stripped-down singer/songwriter album with shades of Elliott Smith, Paul Simon and Kings Of Convenience. It marks what seems to be a gradual move toward a more lo-fi sound for Pajo, who was dabbled in electronics and studio effects during the early portion of his solo career.
"I don't even try to make it lo-fi -- I'm just not a good engineer," the artist says with a laugh. "I was just recording through the mic inputs on my laptop. What appeals to me is the spontaneity of having an idea and being able to record it immediately. If I lived in a studio with a really good engineer and could wake up and record it that way, I'd do the same thing. It's more by default that the albums come out sounding like that."
Pajo says he was happy enough with this approach that he didn't seriously consider re-recording the material in a proper studio environment. "In a way, there's so much well-produced music right now that I find myself attracted to bootlegs or stuff that has a less-thought out, polished sound," he says. "Like 'The Basement Tapes. You can tell they just hit record and played."
One aspect of his solo career Pajo remains uncomfortable with is live performance. In fact, he won't be touring in support of the new album, and has already moved on to a new, louder rock-oriented group tentatively named Dead Child. This comes on the heels of a triumphant one-off spring reunion with Slint, which will be chronicled on a DVD  to be released later this year via Touch & Go.
"The idea was that I'd tour, and the songs sound good solo acoustic, but the more I play live and sing, the less I enjoy doing it," he concedes. "I enjoy doing that when it's instrumental; that kind of live situation is nice. But singing and playing acoustic guitar in rock clubs is not very appealing. I don't think I'm a front-person. I don't have solo artist charisma, and there are so many singer/songwriters. I always felt like I was trying to play over everybody talking, and I'd feel like hell afterward."
But Pajo says he's glad Slint regrouped, if for no other reason that allowing him to put the massively influential band's music into a new perspective.
"Playing the Slint songs again after having heard a lot of Slint-inspired music, I remembered that those bands don't really sound like us," he says. "We just had so many different sounds going on. It's hard for me to pinpoint what the Slint sound was, in a way. It seems like on each song we were trying to do something different."
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