Pedro the Lion

You can go home again


What: Who: Pedro the Lion, Chris Staples

When: 8 pm Fri., Nov. 16 -17

Where: The Wild Buffalo, 208 W. Holly St.

Cost: $18


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

David Bazan has always been a conflicted man.

The Seattle songwriter has made a name for himself by laying his soul bare, detailing his struggles with religion, capitalism, love, booze, existential doubt and his place in the world—among other things. He’s performed this intense public examination for all of his musical life. We first came to know him and his brand of self-confessional angst as the leader of Pedro the Lion, then when he decided to sunset that band in 2006, Bazan went solo and performed under his own name. He’s also recorded as the Headphones, is a member of the Undertow Orchestra and has guest-starred in the various projects of his many musical collaborators and co-conspirators.

Recently, while playing an NPR Tiny Desk concert, Bazan joked, “I’ve made music under many brand names. It was a dumb idea.”

The self-deprecating comment par for the course for a songwriter who, despite having spent decades making critically acclaimed album after critically acclaimed album, playing thousands of shows and earning fans who are only too happy to follow him and his struggles and sorrows through every lineup shift and name change. And through it all, that sense of grappling with conflict, of trying to come to terms with issues grand and small in scale, has permeated everything he’s done.

On paper, Bazan kind of sounds like a big ol’ bummer, but the reality is something else entirely. In making a career out of his own self-scrutiny, and often his self-doubt, Bazan, an extraordinarily gifted songwriter, speaks to all of us. When he is lost, he takes us along with him as he finds his way, and his journey is all the more relatable for mirroring our own.

But out of all the things he’s done and sung, the miles traveled and the roads explored, there’s one thing Bazan did not do for more than a decade, one place he steadfastly refused to go: He did not, would not—perhaps could not—resurrect Pedro the Lion.

Until now. Or rather, until about a year ago.

That’s when Bazan announced he’d reformed the band and reclaimed the moniker so synonymous with him as a man of endless internal conflict. In doing so, he discovered that sometimes you can indeed go home again.

Bazan says the longtime hiatus of Pedro the Lion comes not from the form of the band or its music, but rather the way in which those things function. He had a hard time reconciling his methodology—which had been to play and record much of the music himself, utilizing the other band members for tours and on an as-needed bases—with his idea of the way a band should function.

In bringing Pedro the Lion back to life, Bazan has not made peace with that particular conflict as much as he’s learned to set it aside and not allow it to determine his decision-making. The other thing he won’t do is silo off his various musical identities at the expense of his enjoyment or that of his fans. That means when he tours as Pedro the Lion, he’ll also play Headphones songs or tracks from his solo efforts if the spirit so moves him—and it often does. When he and the other members of Pedro the Lion visit the Wild Buffalo for a Fri., Nov. 16, they’ll also play songs from their forthcoming album, the appropriately titled Phoenix, which is due for an early 2019 release. Tickets are still available for an eagerly awaited homecoming that’s been more than a decade in the making.

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