David Bazan standing on his own two feet
Singer-songwriter David Bazan plays Sept. 15 at The Blue Note.
For singer-songwriter David Bazan, performing under his own name has relieved pressure, not added it. “It actually kind of takes a little pressure off the band in a way,” said the Seattle-native who is touring the country for the first time as Bazan + Band. “It's clear who the boss is, and I don't really have to wave that flag around all the time.” Formerly the frontman of Seattle-based bands Pedro the Lion and Headphones, Bazan now fully controls his own musical destiny. Released in September 2009, Bazan's debut LP, Curse Your Branches, patterns the uncertainty surrounding his decision to take his act solo. With downcast, despondent lyrics and buzzing, churning instrumentation, Branches seems to offer clues into Bazan's tormented state of mind during the process of writing the album. Bazan doesn't quite see it that way. “There's a hopefulness, to me, about calling a spade a spade,” Bazan said. “I felt like that was what I was doing on Branches, at least for my taste. Oddly enough, I find Branches to be a really hopeful record, but I can see how most people probably wouldn't go that way.” He's nothing if not honest. Bazan's past lyrics -- specifically those during the eleven-year run of his most successful outfit Pedro the Lion -- touch on much of the despair and conflicted emotions that Branches does. “It just kind of comes out how it does," Bazan said. "I'm not really aiming for anything. It just so happened that my mind was pretty obsessed with these topics, so I wrote about nothing but these topics. People describe all of my work as having that kind of tone, so maybe Branches is just kind of a continuation of it.” Bazan, who began his latest tour in September, will visit many of the major American and Canadian cities. But he'll also stop through a handful of college towns for the first time -- with any band. “We're just trying to play as many shows as we can,” Bazan said. “But no one fuckin' goes to shows. But in a sense, college towns are good because kids are interested in seeing the music.” Bazan's Seattle roots are as evident as his honesty.
“You really start to see that your environment and the people around you do contribute to the project that you work on," he said.
He is also aware of the impact the town is having on his life.
"I'm starting to see, in kind of vague and maybe even mysterious little ways, the effect that living in this town has had," Bazan said. "I love (living in Seattle), for one. I really am happy here.” Despite the optimism, Bazan won't ignore the difficult path he's taken to get where he is. “I've had to pare (my basement recording studio) down over the years because I got broke when I changed brand names,” Bazan said. “It was, financially, a little bit tight. So I sold most of the bullshit that I had. But all you need is a computer and some good song ideas.” Twelve months after its release, Bazan is still happy with Curse Your Branches.
“I feel really good about it," Bazan said. "It wasn't exactly the kind of record tonally or stylistically that I wanted to make, but the content I pretty much nailed for what I needed to do.”