Slint's David Pajo on Leonard Cohen

Slint guitarist David Pajo, who has played with a huge range of bands including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol and Zwan, reflects on his respect for Leonard Cohen, and his experience of touring, as a teenager, with Glenn Danzig

Feature by David Pajo | 07 Mar 2014
  • Leonard Cohen

It's hard to say who my musical hero is – it always changed each year. Before Slint, when I was in Maurice, it was Glenn Danzig. During the early part of Slint it was Steve Albini. But one constant has been Leonard Cohen. He's one of those guys that I still admire. It's not just his songwriting I find inspiring, it's his whole life – he's like Hemingway or something. It's not just the poetry, the words, or even the songwriting – it's also the way he conducts his life. The fact he left everything to be a Renzai Buddhist monk for years and years. I find that really inspiring. 

I mean, people like Cat Stevens get a lot of shit for leaving their careers and becoming Islamic or whatever, dropping out of the music world – music was against his religion for a long time. But I think it's really cool that someone in his position knows that there's more to life than music, and has a life outside of the music industry.

I supported Glen Danzig's Samhain when I was very young, with Maurice, and I had never done any touring before. I hadn't even played that many shows, those I had played were all within a 15-mile radius of where I lived. So to play places like Detroit, to travel and play shows, especially with Danzig's band... we were all huge Misfits fans. 

It was definitely eye-opening. I'm still friends with Samhain's drummer. But I remember being disillusioned after spending some time with Glenn Danzig. I mean, he was still totally respectable... I know he gets a lot of shit, but despite his sort of thuggish behaviour, he is a really smart guy. To have him show me the right way to play some Misfits songs was a dream come true for me. But I've never met Leonard Cohen. I would love to, if I had the chance.  

Originally published in March 2014; David Pajo's new album as Papa M, Highway Songs, is out now.