- Copyright Ryan Russell
For what has felt like the longest time, David Bazan hasnt known what to do with himself. It was the Seattleites frankness on matters of faith and the questions thereof that drew so many to his work in Pedro the Lion and as a solo artist in the first place. Hes also just as candid about the frustrations that have plagued the last few years: monumental writers block that is just finally starting to crumble away; the struggle to find the means to a career without spending as much time on the road; and a better way to release the music to his fans, some of whom have followed him for upwards of 19 years now.
I dont know who I am or what I want to do or what I like, Bazan said. I dont know what the fuck Im doing.
Nearing the end of 2014, the 38-year-old singer-songwriter is starting to get his legs back. That three-year mental block wasnt happenstance, though; it was the deliberate institution of the Bazan Monthly series that sees two songs being replaced at the dawn of five consecutive months, the first of which were unveiled in July.
I hadnt written two songs period since Strange Negotiations was finished. I didnt know how. For some reason, I was stuck, Bazan said. So to do that for four straight months, thats fucking amazing for me. And I like them. It was kind of taking the stakes of each individual song and lowering them so I can explore a little bit.
Bazan is heading into his 20th year making music, fighting at every angle with a new album backed by Passenger String Quartet and a full national tour including Sundays stop at the ACM@UCO Performance Lab in support of it.
The record isnt comprised of new originals; instead, its a reinvention of choice selections out of his back catalog. Yet it breathes new life into them all the same.
It was two years ago that Bazan first came across the Andrew Josyln-led quartet (which has also backed Macklemore and Suzanne Vega, among others) when Bazan played a gig where its services were offered. The initial hesitance for streamlined, simple and independent-minded Bazan was washed away upon hearing a few demos of Joslyns arrangements.
Its a heavy thing to hear this sort of instrumentation on your tunes, Bazan said. Its really novel, something one doesnt have much access too. The fact that it went so well off the bat I was excited to do something else.
He hopes for further collaboration with Passenger String Quartet, especially after this two-month tour that will push them past casual acquaintanceship into friendship. But theres a lot on his future agenda, including a reissue of the 2005 eponymous Headphones album in honor of its 10th anniversary, a Christmas album and tours in support of each.
It all goes to show that even if Bazan doesnt know all the whys and hows of what hes doing, hes going to do as much as he can all the same.
You want to go out and bring something different to people, he said. When you have the opportunity to do that, its a no-brainer that you would. Who knows how many chances you have at something like this?
Headline: Bazan a whim, Bazan a whim