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June 23, 2004

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STRANGE BEDFELLOWS - PEDRO THE LION'S UNLIKELY MIX OF RELIGION AND INDIE-ROCK

During his six years as the frontman and sole songwriter in Pedro the Lion, David Bazan filled five albums and two EPs with morality tales of salvation and damnation. By his own admission, it's an outgrowth of his upbringing in a strict Evangelical Christian household.

"Achilles Heel," which came out in May, marks a departure for Bazan. While his sparsely arranged songs are still sung with a plaintive voice, Bazan is moving away from music with a message.

"Music and art have a lot of inherent value, but the Evangelical Christian culture believes they only have value when they serve the greater purpose of trying to convince other people to believe what they believe," he says. "I thought it was an invalid way of looking at art and the world, so I've been slowly moving away from that kind of thinking."

"Bands with Managers," a send-up of manufactured rebellion, kicks off the album.

[b]Will the day ever come when you hire a manger?[/b]

In fact, we have a manger now. After I wrote that song we started talking to this guy that our booking agent recommended. And our booking agent HATES band managers. So when he said this manager is actually all right, we took his advice. Though the thought did cross our mind, "Should we put this song on the record?" And I thought, "Yeah, of course." Because the song isn't an indictment of bands with managers, but bands who do unscrupulous things to get a leg up in the music industry.

[b]Still, you probably need to do some explaining.[/b]

Yeah, he needed a bit of clarification. I made sure that he knew that I wrote it long before we hired him. He understood. He knows that he's kind of the anti-manager.

[b]What's your Achilles heel?[/b]

I'm realizing that alcohol could potentially be a downfall. I guess a big theme on the record is that when someone meets their end--the end of the career, marriage or life--it's not planned and usually it sneaks up on them. It's usually a lot of small decisions. I've been trying to become aware of what's going to be my undoing. Not that people don't live peacefully into old age, but I think most people reach old age with a barrelful of regret. And I'd like to minimize that in my own life.

[b]Man, your songs are dark. Ever think about writing something a little more upbeat?[/b]

I attempted to do that a couple times because people would always ask me, "Why does your music always have to be so sad?" Early on I wrote a few up-tempo songs, but more of them were satirical, not very upbeat in their outlook. I really enjoy my life and I look forward to just about everything that I'm getting to do. And it's always been that way. But for me, I don't feel like any sort of upbeat expressions would be honest.

PUBLICATION
Metromix

AUTHOR
Matt McGuire

DIRECT LINK TO ARTICLE
http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/