17 Questions with PUJOL

Pujol

Photo by Jamie Goodsell

PUJOL is a Nashville-based rock band born from the homo-amphibian hall of mirrors trying to blast goodness into the glibness. I sent frontman Daniel Pujol some questions through electronic mail ahead of his Illinois dates in Champaign (Sunday) and Chicago (Monday). He responded with his answers to the aforementioned questions. The text below is the only remaining record of the correspondence.

Ghost Track: So, the video/poem/merch for “Sleepy Doni” from your upcoming EP Kisses just surfaced on the net and the word is a new record cometh. What have you been thinking about and/or listening to while writing material since KLUDGE?

Daniel Pujol: Yes. There is a new EP called KISSES. It is half songs and half spoken word. It is coming out 11/27/15.

Thinking about? I’ve been wondering what sincerity or affirmation would look like nowadays. How could they be conveyed in writing without sounding sentimental and totally flowery? There’s been a flurry of articles about how cynicism, sarcasm, irony, etc. could be neutering our language into a narrative of self-fulfilling dysfunction. How can you describe or work towards “functional” when you expect dysfunction? How can you imagine a better world when the pursuit of The Truth only serves to demonstrate how awful something factually is? Is the pinnacle of perception just muckraking? What is the difference between facts and truth? I’ve been thinking, “Great, the Emperor has no clothes, now what?”

GT: Your video collaborations with Everything is Terrible lately have warmed my heart, like two parts of my brain converging into something unforeseeably satisfying. What’s your favorite EIT clip?

DP: All of it. Just the whole website. It’s a library.

GT: I know that your master’s degree consistently comes up in articles written about your music as a biographical nugget, but I want to ask if you think your exposure to higher education has influenced the way you approach your music? Why continue with art rather than chase down academic interests?

DP: It probably has. Though, I don’t consider myself that highly educated. I think I am currently focusing on art because it gives more leeway in expressing contemporary arguments, narratives, or ideas concisely, and in a more public and immediate way. I’m not sure that would be the case if the effort was expressed through academic pursuits. I try to boil things down. To see if such concepts can be presented as “not academic” and not “only for the highly educated.” In song form. As common knowledge. People do that with Facebook, but I have more fun doing that with songs. The world we live in is happening, and I think people can understand it because they can also feel it. I think what is described as far away political, social, economic, or philosophical theory isn’t that far away. We are probably living with them. Dealing with their proliferation. Or at least in close proximity to them. It’s not rocket science. Just look at Facebook.

GT: Coolest thing you’ve learned in 2015?

DP: How to use Logic.

GT: Best flavor of ice cream?

DP: I don’t like ice cream!

GT: What’s your favorite episode of The X-Files?

DP: “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” might be my favorite episode.

GT: Which public figure is most likely to be a lizard person?

DP: My reflection.

GT: You’ve been playing for years now. What’s the toughest part about being a working musician? What’s the best part?

DP: Honestly, the hardest part is all the phone stuff. The best part is getting better at actually making, recording, and playing music through experience.

GT: Since you’re playing Pygmalion this weekend, it seems like an appropriate time to bring up a question that has been bouncing around in my skull for a while now: David Foster Wallace grew up in Champaign-Urbana and dealt a lot with the questions of modern American life in his writing that you often seem comment on in your lyrics. Having been familiar with the track off UNITED STATES OF BEING, I noticed that the phrase “psychic pain” used in “Infinite Jest” when I read it. Are you a fan of his stuff or was this just two culturally submerged brains converging unintentionally?

DP: Total coincidence! People tell me to read his stuff. I’ve gone through some of his essays and interviews, but I haven’t read any of his books all the way through. I appreciate his questioning of irony and cynicism as a relevant writing tool, though.

GT: Continuing this line, I pose a question you once asked me: are we living in an existential zeitgeist?

DP: It’s possible. There are certainly a lot of topical options available to choose how you’d like your own existence to appear to yourself. I think the different ways the narrator addresses his/her subject in song throughout contemporary music right now is interesting. The multitude of “self-evident” social and situational realities we can choose from is disorientating. All the implicit social mechanics and value endorsements everywhere. Strobing and wiggling. It’s like a buffet. A long buffet, long enough to find yourself and sate yourself. Maybe?

GT: I might be wrong, but I think we both divert some brain power towards considering the effects of the Internet, specifically social media, on self and society. I’m grasping for a question here, but I’d really just like to know some of your thoughts on the intersection between the Internet and self/society.

DP: I spy on myself for free, as self expression, so future generations can have better functioning facial recognition software, and for this I should be grateful.

GT: Alright. Now for some relatively easy ones. What’s something that has made you laugh in the last 24 hours?

DP: Spamming on Tinder.

GT: Funnier Illinois-born comedian: Bill Murray or Robin Williams?

DP: Robin Williams.

GT: Favorite venue in Illinois?

DP: Situations? Empty Bottle?

GT: Better Chicago invention: the zipper or the pinball machine?

DP: Zipper

GT: Better film set in Illinois: Home Alone or Halloween?

DP: Halloween.

GT: Last words?

DP: You can’t save the world, but you can heal it — if your kisses blow one at a time!

PUJOL plays at the Pygmalion Festival Sunday (9/27) at Mike N Molly’s (w/ Bookmobile) and Monday (9/30) at the Empty Bottle (w/ Lee Bains III and Flesh Panthers).

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