If you're like me, you've often found yourself waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking, "My God! I wonder what Shawn Pander is up to these days!"
Well, actually, quite a lot. Since relocating to L.A. six months ago, the singer-songwriter has signed a deal with Coku Music. Next year, the label will release a new disc featuring seven tracks from Pander's previously self-released Soundtrack to Life, along with six new tunes. He's also been playing live -- solo and with other musicians -- and he's penned about 25 new songs. "The new material has a lot to do with my new surroundings, directly and indirectly," he says via e-mail. "As soon as I got here, everything inspired me to write, from the traffic and people to the beautiful weather and palm trees."
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Stylistically, Pander adds that the newer material is more "rock and roll"-oriented than the pop-rock musings of Soundtrack. Blame the Darwinian scene. "This place tends to make you a little more angry," he says. "It's a struggle out here. Everyone has amazing talent. You start to feel really small and when I start to feel small, I'm pushed to work that much harder." The homecoming show, which will reunite his previous Houston band, will feature only a couple of the new tunes, and sadly, no Christmas carols. "Uh, I'll leave that to Perry Como and Johnny Mathis," he says, perhaps forgetting that one of them is, in fact, deader than Jacob Marley. Besides the show, there's at least one other thing that brings Pander home for the holidays: decent Tex-Mex food. "They don't have any out here," he moans. "And it's killing me!"