It seems there’s a walking-on-pins-and-needles attitude that surrounds Pedro the Lion’s lead singer, Dave Bazan. Two extremes surround him and his band’s music: People either appreciate his honesty and bluntness, and welcome the music with open arms, or they criticize him for offering no hope, and not being “Christian” enough.
The only answer to the scrutiny for offering “no hope” in the end of his albums, which take you through whirlwinds of depression and thought-provoking stories, is maybe he’s trying to show, in an indirect way, hope can be found in only one person.
His albums overflow with vulnerable honesty, self-introspection and raw emotion. The guy puts himself out there. And that makes some uncomfortable. “I think some people might be disappointed in me, though, after they get the new record,” he said. But he quickly says he’s happy with the album. “Control is a far cry from its original version, I do like it a lot and am proud of it.”
The recording process took a solid year, writing, recording, tweaking and perfecting. “I recorded the album all the way through once, and then scrapped it and went back to the drawing board.” This reflects a shift in content. “I just decided to abandon all pretenses and let my studio process have more of a ‘what comes out, comes out’ feel, and I would know that’s what’s meant to be.
“The songs on the new album are arranged in a much more interesting manner, so they can stand on their own.” He added, “Lyrically this album was much better than the past … ‘Options’ is about a couple’s marriage falling apart, but that is one of the very limited plot lines that only make up about a fourth to a third of the album.” Bazan continued, “This album also has a presence of political issues and vague socio-economical comments about the U.S.”
Although Bazan claims he writes from a strictly fictional standpoint, he does credit certain current events which direct his thoughts on the album. One of those direct writing inspirations on this latest album was the WTO protest in his hometown of Seattle, Wash., an event that led him to think more of social justice issues. “I was thinking a lot about the structure of power in this country and the brilliant and subtle crimes of empire all over the world, and I set out to write a record just about that.” Bazan then realized that the outcome seemed too forced and deliberate. His solution was to combine important elements of those issues with more domestic ideas such as relationships, families and jobs and roll it all together for Control.
So does he ever write from an autobiographical point of view? “A few years before I was in Pedro the Lion, I wrote that way, and that’s just not what I enjoyed.” He quickly dismisses any notion that this might leave a personal aspect out of the songs. “I think my songs are personal and I want them also to be interesting. By writing the way I do, I can mess around with facets … make words stronger … and make the narratives more interesting.” Bazan said actually feels more connected to the lyrics that he creates fictionally, than those he created from an autobiographical viewpoint.
But Bazan does admit what happens autobiographically affects his art. This September marks his third year wedding anniversary. “ I think marriage is a pretty interesting facet of our culture that defines a lot of what goes on.”
Musicians are such predominate role models in youth culture and the words they sing do have an effect on the lives of their audience. From Bazan observing and learning earnestly from his own marriage, taking time to acknowlege our country’s political issues and always staying true to himself, Control offers a hidden message that fans will strive hard to decode. So pick your extreme, but try to see through Bazan’s sarcasm and dark imagery to the fact that he is just trying in his indirect way to make the world a more accountable place.
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