Arts and Entertainment

The heart of a Lion

No longer Pedro, David Bazan — the Lion. - Joel Faurote
No longer Pedro, David Bazan — the Lion.
— image credit: Joel Faurote

The music of David Bazan is a lot like the eloquent ramble speak of an educated drunkard.

That statement, meant in the best possible connotation, is likely what makes the man such a gifted songwriter — the type of cat who can stand in front of an audience, just he and a Telecaster, and hold people’s attention for hours on end.

See for yourself March 8 when he headlines an all-ages show at Jackson Hall, 9161 Washington Ave., in Silverdale.

A gentle giant type in stature, Bazan has long had a knack for putting his heart on his sleeve and into his songs, weaving stories of personal struggle and suburban ennui (as it’s related on his Web page) into ear-catching, thought-provoking tunes.

“Sometimes (songs) are just like a cloud,” Bazan said in an interview with What’s Up last week. “You’ve got a bunch of words and you think you know what you’re getting at ... but sometimes you’ve got to hang out in that fog for a few days, sometimes even longer.”

For a decade, beginning in Seattle in 1995, he did so, engineering the indie rock three-piece enigma — Pedro the Lion.

From the band’s charm-filled homemade debut “It’s Hard to Find a Friend” with songs about cheating lovers, leg hair phobics and Trans-Ams, to giving life to a drunken New Mexico throwing punches at California, fighting for the love of the land mass between them in the song “Arizona” on “Pedro the Lion’s Achilles Hill” in 2004, Bazan’s wit has long been magnetic, his emotion plainly evident.

Now, since dropping the Pedro moniker when the band ceased function in 2005, it’s blatant.

The first line of the title track of his first solo EP “Fewer Moving Parts” released in 2006, recites: “Fewer moving parts, fewer broken pieces / every other start requires a brand new thesis / one good friend remarks with a rightfully angry ‘Jesus / dude, none of us know what to do with you’ / I, in my pride responded, ‘I’ve got news for you / None of you have to cause I still run the show ... .”

How’s that for “heart on your sleeve”?

“Don’t forget it ... don’t think I don’t regret it,” the song continues.

While all of the Pedro the Lion albums featured a full band, and live you’d see a three-piece on stage, “the common denominator was me in the studio ... with one or two guys helping in the process,” Bazan said.

“I think (“Fewer Moving Parts”) is a little bit more adventurous and playful than the Pedro the Lion material was,” he remarked on his solo project. “It’s my favorite thing that I’ve done ... I’m really happy with it, it covers a lot of ground both musically and in the tone of the lyrics.”

It’s also an incredibly diverse look into Bazan’s craft, including the upbeat indie-rock side he’s shown with Pedro and a bit of the synth-texturedness he introduced with the project Headphones.

The EP has 10 tracks but only five songs. The first half is the five songs in their “rock-and-roll” form, the second is those same five songs in the form of their acoustic genesis.

“I really liked the acoustic demo versions, of one song in particular ‘Cold Beer and Cigarettes, ’ ” Bazan said, noting a lonesome track about rattling the cashier’s cage by inviting her to your room after picking up a six pack and smokes. “I really wanted for everybody who heard the rock-and-roll version to hear the acoustic version as well.”

Each version has unique and attractive qualities, so at the risk of repetition, he put both versions of each song. It’s genius.

But what’s even more interesting to people in Kitsap is that Bazan wrote or at least conceptualized all of these songs during the time he was living in a big green castle north of Poulsbo.

After having toured with another peninsula-tied songsmith — Death Cab For Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard — last year, Bazan returns to Kitsap for an all-ages show, 7 p.m. March 8 with Alligators, Kids on Bikes and Ghost of a Brontosaurus at Silverdale’s Jackson Hall. Tickets are $8.

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