Why Pujol is the perfect voice for our time
He's at several disadvantages there, especially if he sticks to the methods we mostly rely on these days. He could send you a text message, but they are short and absolute and lack context. "You have this visceral, gut reaction to everything that you read, because all you have is text in front of you," he says. "It's not reciprocating."
That's fine in a book or an article or even a letter, because there's some room to stretch out and (presumably) some caution applied to the language. But in a text message? The risk of misinterpretation of tone or even meaning is tremendously high. He could send you an e-mail instead, but lately those aren't much different from text messages.
He'll try to compensate by choosing his words carefully. There are other tools at his disposal, as well. "I think emoticons are great," he says. "As a reader, I think, 'That face is smiling.' And that's good. Inserting something like that into what you're writing clarifies the intent."
But you'll still be missing out on so much. Body language and inflection and reaction and a million other cues that allow two humans standing near each other to share thoughts and ideas and emotions. "Language is not as precise as communication," he says.
The problem for Pujol isn't as much about what we're losing as what's replacing it. "It's not doomsday for human communication, but it's such a void," he says. "The infrastructure is moving faster than the social understanding of how to apply it." So suddenly Google and Apple and Facebook are dictating human discourse, because they control the rapidly moving infrastructure. "It's very easily hijacked," Pujol says. "And I think it's hijacked by people trying to make money."
Again, that's not doomsday. He points out that it is, in fact, how a capitalistic society is designed. But if we're going to let companies define our relationships (and what clothes we wear and what food we eat, etc.), we should at least talk to each other about that. And now we're back at the beginning. How should we talk about how we're going to talk to each other?
Music still works, I think. Pujol has a new record out on Saddle Creek called Kludge, and on it he says plenty. He's a rapid thinker and a talented writer -- in conversation he expresses ideas in knotty paragraphs. But he recognizes the tremendous power of a guitar tone or a melodic shift to fill in all those adverbs and clauses for him, and his lyrics are a small, careful selection of mostly simple words. You can read them all on the band's website.
"Everybody's talking angst 'bout how to get their kicks/I think that stuff's just made up to sell leather jackets," he sings on "Spooky Scary," a song about spending boring nights at home with loved ones. That's the dream -- it really is. "I just want to make enough bread/To get to lay in bed/And watch Dr. Who with you and the bunnies," he sings.
But at least for now, he's not doing that. He's writing songs about the quiet defeats and unglamorous lessons that come with figuring out who you are. They resonate, clear and huge, in my chest.
He recorded Kludge in a nonprofit suicide prevention and community center in a strip mall in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. The owners of the building are friends. "They wanted us to be there, and we wanted to be there," he says. Pujol rented the space from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. on a month-to-month basis, setting up a studio with drummer and engineer Doni Shroader every night they could and taking it down in the morning. "I only wanted to involve people that I knew well on this project," he says. "Which goes back to the relationship thing."
And now he's touring with the same band he recorded with. They just finished playing the West Coast for the first time, and tonight will be their Denver debut. Go to the show at the Larimer Lounge and communicate with Pujol.
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