The List

The List

Music Player

Q: You moved to New York last year. Why do you still have your San Francisco phone number? A: It keeps me connected to the Bay Area. We moved because my partner is becoming a psychologist and he's doing his internship out here. But it felt like it was time to move on from San Francisco. We had both been there for 15 years or so and it felt like it ran its course. Q: So you're in a long-term relationship. Why does your new album, "The Wave Organ Song," make it sound like you're the loneliest man on the planet? A: It's funny, I think the sadness or melancholy is more about feeling a little out of place. It's not so much feeling unloved or lonely - more like a change had to happen. That's one of the undercurrents - just the decision to leave San Francisco - because I loved that place. Q: You once said seeing the Grateful Dead with your father and older brother changed your life. Do you still feel that way? A: For sure. There was so much to that band, in a way, that stayed with me. Now that I'm 38, it's been with me so long I feel it's going to be a through line. It's influenced how I approach my whole thing, concentrating on writing good songs and making them new every night. Q: You're known for creating loops and doing guitar improvisation during your shows. Is it entirely live? A: It's all created on the fly. Sometimes there's a misconception that it's prerecorded, but I set up the soundscapes live to improvise over. I sort of cater it depending on where I'm playing. I definitely feel for some of these singer-songwriter dudes who are playing in a loud bar because you're lost. I can crank it up. Q: Do you feel things have changed since you recorded your tribute to Matthew Shepard, "What You're Hiding," more than a decade ago? A: That's one of my oldest songs that I still play every night. I used to play it without any introduction or anything and I noticed in some places people would have these quizzical looks on their faces. I realized some people didn't know who he was. That tells me there's still a need to talk about that stuff and keep it on the forefront. To hear Garrin Benfield's music, go to Follow Aidin Vaziri at E-mail him at” - Aidin Vaziri

— San Francisco Chronicle