Interview with David Pajo

You’ve played in quiet a lot of great bands, from Slint, Tortoise, Zwan, M, to doing stuff with Mogwai and Will Oldham. What is it that makes you want to move around so much musically? Do you think you’ll eventually settle on a single outfit?
never a single outfit. I always felt it was quite normal to play in multiple bands simultaneously.

Is there a common thread in all the different outfits you’ve played in?

yes. me.

Do you find yourself having to adjust your playing differently in each band/outfit? Did it ever become a struggle, to try to match your playing with the other musicians?
yes, I adjust my playing for the song. its always a pleasant and unpleasant struggle.

For a lot of your hardcore fans it almost becomes a guarantee of quality music when a record has your name attached to it, even when it’s just an additional help like in Mogwai’s Rock Action?. How do you feel about this? Does this affect your work musically?
I think that’s one hell of a compliment you’ve bestowed upon me. I can’t take credit for the quality of which you speak, but I surely believe that I’m fortunate enough to be friends with some of the best writers alive today.

Your recent outings, particularly the singles one & two, seem less somber than your previous albums. What caused this change in mood?
certain life experiences allow me a wide range of moods, and if I’m lucky I can write a song that reflects it.

Have you ever tried any Indonesian traditional instruments, such as the gamelan? What?s the oddest instrument you?ve played yet?
I have never played the gamelan but I would if I:
1)could
2)had access to one
3)knew how to play it.
I used to listen to quite a bit of gamelan music.
the oddest instrument I’ve ever played would have to be the butt-hole.



You play various instruments, but would you say the guitar is your main instrument?

yes, most definitely.

What?s the fascination with the letter M?

I believe in M as a powerful image, and the Father of Man.

What happened to Zwan? It almost seemed like the perfect band just-having-good-time. Was it just marketed this way or was it really as joyful as it looked from the outside?
it’s safe to say that it began as a low-key, good-time thing.

Is Paz a now permanent member of Papa M?

I would say so, yes. as long as she wants to be.

What are the five ingredients to writing a Papa M material?
1. guitar
2. lighter
3. corn cob pipe
4. bag of pot
5. solitude

What?s on your list of the top ten records of all time?
there are certain records, that I don’t listen to very much anymore because I burnt out on them, that I still consider some of the greatest recordings ever. steve reich’s ‘music for eighteen musicians’ would have to be one of them.

What legendary band would you say died and were reincarnated as Papa M?
jimi hendrix.

What would be the perfect setting for listening to Papa M records?
on a 180 acre farm, late at night, with the bonfire burning, bourbon in hand.

When is the Indonesian tour going to happen?
sooner or later. send me a plane ticket and I’ll take care of everything else!

-Originally published in Deathrockstar, 2003

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