Van Duren came out of the same Memphis music scene as cult heroes Big Star and has played with various members of that band. After years of making melodic music in relative obscurity, Duren was approached by a pair of Australian filmmakers who wanted to make a documentary about him. The resulting movie, Waiting – the Van Duren Story, has played at a few film festivals, but has yet to secure wide distribution.
More importantly, Omnivore Recordings assembled a soundtrack to the film, which helped introduce Duren’s music to a whole new audience. Now, that same label has issued the artist’s first two solo albums – Are You Serious? and Idiot Optimism – the former being highly collectible among power pop aficionados, the latter getting its first official release.
We chat with the Memphis native about twice auditioning for Big Star, and what he learned from guitarist Chris Bell. Plus, why after recording his second album, he walked away without it being released, and the prospect of new music from his duo Loveland Duren in 2021.