Vol 2, Num 8 :: 2003.04.11 — 2003.04.24
The following interview with David Bazan of Pedro the Lion was conducted at the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Music on Saturday, March 29.
How would you say your faith is expressed in your music—not just in your lyrics, but in all the work you do?
I really believe in and sense the freedom that comes along with the promises God has made to us, his children—also, in the responsibility to take risks that comes along with that freedom. Steve Stockman (author of Walk on: The Spiritual Journey of U2
), [in his keynote speech today,] talked about the parable of the talents, about how the people who took the most risks in growing those talents were the ones the landowner rewarded. Believing in that freedom and knowing I?m taken care of frees me up to do things that involve risk.
How does your faith apply to the process itself, your musical choices? Do you have a finished idea in mind when you begin?
Less and less. The later stuff that I?ve been writing is more me following where the creative process leads. Earlier stuff, I would have decided in advance what I wanted it to be like in the end and then filled in the blanks. But more and more, I?m trying to just sit down and write what comes out. Usually, you?ll get an idea where each piece is heading and what ?finished? for that particular piece is. Sometimes you?re filling in the gaps at that point, but even then I think that you can continue that same real free creative process without the pretense of ?this is what it?s going to be now,? and still finish the thing in a way that it will hang together.
Do you view yourself in a larger context of Christian artists that have a tradition of doing art? Was it a conscious choice, did you feel compelled, to avoid CCM? Because CCM has sort of a coup on what is called ?Christian music? by our society . . .
Yeah, the more I find out about certain things and the more that I?m involved with things like this festival, the more I see a greater community. There are people around Seattle who are Christians who are doing art in a way that isn?t by the book, but also people like Dan Smith, who I?ve known for a while, and others you run into. The more I?m around, the more I realize there?s a lot of people trying to do this same thing. Steve Stockman was talking about U2 today and explaining how they?ve been doing that to a certain degree for 20 years, but on another level since around ?90—really being deliberate about the choices they make and not being swayed by the prevailing notion of what Christian art should come out like.
So do you look at people like U2 and Bill Mallonee as models of ways things could be done instead of going through something like CCM?
At the outset, I didn?t necessarily have any models that I?m aware of. It?s pretty clear that CCM is a kind of a cesspool of unoriginal thinking about marketing, about songwriting, about presentation. So I knew I didn?t really want to be a part of that. And it just seemed logical that any band who was interested in working hard could get on some indie label in the general market and just do it. The more that I do it, though, I?m seeing other people doing it in a way that?s really encouraging. It?s varied enough so that everyone is not on a similar type of label or even playing the same type of music. But we?re all, at this festival anyway, songwriters and artists who have similar goals in mind, which is to be motivated to do good work because we?re doing it as unto the Lord, and motivated by the gospel to shake the dust off our feet and to leave—also, sort of giving the finger to the establishment on a certain level.