Paste Magazine recently named David Bazan one of its Top 100 Living Songwriters, but the honor hasn’t gone to the Seattle musician’s head. “In the last few years I finally started to get comfortable with the singer-songwriter tag, and it really is a privilege and a pleasure to count myself as a part of the American tradition of songwriting. The 2-8 minute pop song, it’s such a fantastic little thing,” Bazan explained. The prominent magazine’s acknowledgement felt “pretty humbling,” however.
Bazan’s newest album, Curse Your Branches, came out in September, and has been receiving some of the best press of his career. While this career has included fronting both Pedro the Lion and Headphones, the new album is his first fully solo effort. The Barsuk Records release is a personal work, described by the Washington-based label as “the deepest and most explicit exploration of his struggles with faith and the Evangelical world in which he was raised to date, and a meditation on all things passed between the generations.” Having previously released the 2007 EP, Fewer Moving Parts, and January’s 7” American Flags, Curse Your Branches is Bazan’s proper introduction as a full-fledged solo artist on the Barsuk roster. Recording was “a pretty long and confusing process. I did it in my basement, so that gives you the luxury of having all the time you need to do it — besides the looming deadlines. I blew off two or three of those,” Bazan said.
Before getting serious about the project, Bazan “had the songs written and was performing them with just an acoustic guitar for some time, but it was a real trick to figure out how to arrange the songs for all the instruments I wanted to have involved.”
When asked how it felt to be recording without a group behind him, Bazan said it wasn’t that different at all. The main difference is in the music. “The songs are a pretty different kind of songs, and my taste is different now than it was.” For those accustomed to the Bazan of yore, traveling and performing as part of a small collective, the most recent tour dates are no different, veering away from the one-man-and-his-guitar outlet.
The current tour finds Bazan surrounded by a band of friends. “I’ve perceived I’ve had a little bit of the Michael Scott syndrome going on in the past. I wanted people to like me,” he said. Now, he’s just having a great time. “Everyone in the van is good-natured and has a pretty good sense of humor. We just make jokes all day.”
As far as the audience goes, Bazan said, “we’re finally bringing out more of the historical Pedro the Lion fans. [It is] a lot of the same folks, but I have run into people who are total radio folks or interviewers, saying that, ‘Oh, I thought Pedro the Lion was below me, but I really like this new record.’ So that’s pretty cool.”
Bazan is primarily playing tracks from Curse Your Branches, but “there’s a sprinkling of Pedro songs, and in sound check we’ve been working on this Headphones song called ‘I Never Wanted You.’ We’ll definitely have it up and running by Champaign.”
Whether you’re simply a fan of his solo work, or an old die-hard, be sure to check out David Bazan on Sunday, Oct. 25 when he comes through the Highdive with a full-band and openers Say Hi. Tickets for the 8:00 p.m. show are $10 in advance or at the door. To follow the tour as it progresses, visit http://www.davidbazan.com for an up-to-date tour diary complete with photos and stories from each stop on the journey.

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