Photo by Neil Krug
“What we are reluctant to touch often seems the very fabric of our salvation.”
Benjamin Booker was floating somewhere in the sky over Mexico when he stumbled across this line in Don DeLillo’s White Noise, on his way to spend a month in the country’s capital with little plans as to what he would actually be doing there once he landed. Booker doesn’t speak Spanish and bought the ticket on a whim; it had been an especially rough bout back in New Orleans where he’d dodged gunfire and had his home broken into, all while adjusting to life after two years on the road supporting his self-titled debut LP.
“I just needed to get out,” says Booker, calling from his home in Los Angeles’ Echo Park before heading out on a trip to Joshua Tree with a friend. “I got the ticket and didn’t know what was going to happen. Was I going to stay there, or come back.”
He did come back, after spending his time in a rental apartment near the center of Mexico City, which served as home base when he wasn’t drinking Mezcal, visiting museums, sitting in local parks, seeing music at El Imperial, fighting Montezuma’s Revenge or writing songs for what would become Witness, his second album. Though Booker crafted much of the material while his feet touched the warm pavement of the foreign town, the tracks all spiraled out of that DeLillo quote, discovered thousands of miles above the Zócalo as he prepared to descend into an unknown land.
“I was immediately like, ‘This is it,’” says Booker. “I got a piece of... Sign In to Keep Reading