David Bazan:
"'Pick My Brain' Sounds Painful"

David Bazan pic #2
Tom Koenig & David Bazan. Photo by Yuko Koenig.
Renowned for his interactions with his audience, which are filled with Q and A sessions, David Bazan made Pedro The Lion one of the most underrated and underexposed bands in the indie circuit. The band's fans, though, knew what they owned: a band that didn't work like most did, they were "in on it." A band that you could relate to and talk to, as well. Now Bazan's well into his solo career, and he once again attacks both sides of religion, politics, and love.

SCR: Thanks for a few minutes of your time. I just wanted to pick your brain a little bit about the differences and similarities between your work with Pedro The Lion and your solo work.
David Bazan: "Pick my brain a little bit" sounds painful. [laughter] Okay, shoot.
When it comes to Pedro The Lion, you have a broad spectrum of topics: drug addiction, love, heartbreak...
Wait. Stop there for a minute. Love and heartbreak go hand in hand when it comes to most love songs. The majority of love songs usually have an underlying sad ending. A good example would be the Cure's "Love Song." They called it what it was, and it's a song about breaking up.

But on a lot of Pedro's songs, you approach topics with either a bit of humor or a lot of seriousness.
Of course. I'm a normal guy. I think. I have mood swings like everyone else, and it reflects on each song. I don't go out of my way to recreate myself. In fact, I do quite the opposite. Or at least, try to be honest with my audience.
You treat your audience in a very unique way. You ask them to ask you questions.
We're all on the same boat. I go and see bands I like and think, "I wonder what their biggest influence is," or, "What do they do when they aren't touring?" So I decided when I had the good fortune to be paid to play music, I would allow my fans to do what I couldn't. Ask the band a question.
You've probably had some pretty interesting questions thrown your way. What are some of the strange or odd questions that have been asked to you?
Well, I've been proposed to [laughter], and I've been asked what kind of underwear I wear. I once got asked if I realized I was balding. [laughter] That one kind of pissed me off, but I had to remember I opened that door. I love that part of the show, getting to know each other. And I'm not balding, by the way! [laughter]
Sure about that?
Sure you want this interview to continue? [laughter]
Yes. With all the different genres -- emo, punk, indie, etc. -- I find your songs to be╩good rock with smart lyrics. What would you use as your identifier, if any?
i╩think pigeonholing your band with "types" of music╩is silly. I play music. People who spend time trying to define themselves as this or that have way too much time on their hands. It seems premeditated to say, "my band plays this kind of music," or, "we're this kind of band." [laughter] But really,╩I play songs that I write. So...that makes me self-absorbed, and I╩grew a beard, so now I am a hippie, too, right? [more laughter]
David Bazan record cover
(Music courtesy of Barsuk Records.)

No, but I get your question. And it's hard to define music I write, because it's not intentional. It's just me. It may suck, it may be great, but at least I can say it's me. My genre is Bazan. Good or bad, I don't hide behind genres...unless my╩wife tells me otherwise. [heavy laughter]
What about your solo work? It's very political at times.
Not really. Once again, it's just what was on my mind. I don't go after a topic on purpose, I just write what I'm feeling at that moment. If it comes off political, then it is what it is. I can't judge people for their assessment of my songs. They have every right to their opinions. That's why music is such a wonderful media -- everyone is allowed to take a song for what they think it is. Music is never in concrete. Songs from 30 years ago may have a relevance to something going on today or tomorrow, or hit the heartstrings of someone years from now that needed those words to feel better.
Anything in particular you want to add?
Just that bands should support other bands. Community is key. END