David Bazan on Pedro the Lion's Control
In this week's issue, we dig in with David Bazan, the songwriter behind Pedro the Lion, who's touring in support of the 10-year anniversary of that band's landmark record, Control. We ended up with more material than we could fit, so please enjoy another installment of Outtakes, where we sweep up all sorts of good stuff that ended up on the cutting room floor.
With its crunchy guitars and booming drums, Pedro the Lion's Control serves as scathing indictment American right-wing politics, a bitter dispatch from the Bush era that presciently gazed at the looming financial crisis. Bazan has been performing solo since 2006, but he's out on the road with his band, performing the entirety of Control (plus more) in celebration of the record's 10th anniversary.
Up on the Sun: I imagine these shows have been very interesting. You guys recently remastered the Pedro the Lion catalog. How long had it been since you've gone back and re-listened to these records?
David Bazan: I've been touring with the band since 2009, and we've played seven of 10 songs from Control at different points, on different tours. We definitely played a lot from Achilles Heel, and It's Hard to Find a Friend, and some songs from Winners Never Quit. So it's not that much of a departure, but to have to play in every song in order, every night, that's something I've never done, to be sort of contractually obligated to play certain songs. But it's worked out fine.
Is it possible for you to pick a favorite Pedro record, or one that feels like you accomplished as much as you felt out to?
Well, every record is made up of so many different components, and so many different parts of the process you can judge separately. I think my favorite songwriting is on Achilles Heel, even though there are definitely songs [on that record] I despise. But I think Control, comes in a close second to It's Hard to Find a Friend in terms of "album making." Those two records, each in their own way, achieved what I was going for. As it turns out I just think that I prefer the sensibility of It's Hard to Find a Friend a little bit more. But I'm really proud of Control. At the time, I pretty much nailed what I was trying to achieve with making that record.
Do you remember that shift occurring? Was part of the violent sound of Control a thematic decision, or an element of you being sick of being pegged as a quiet singer/songwriter-type?
It's way more the former than the latter. There was a certain feeling that I got playing a couple of the rock songs on Winners Never Quit, and how the set we had played up until then was just sort of down tempo, and I thought it would really be fun to have a lot more rock songs to play. I think that was part of it. I really loved the record Pinkerton, by Weezer, a lot, and the bombast of that record I thought I could really dig into that, in my own way of a similar level of bombast.