Pedro the Lion is Back (For All Intents and Purposes)
When David Bazan tweeted in the early morning hours last Friday that a drunk driver had smashed into his parked tour van in Chicago, one of the first things that sprung to mind--after learning that the former Pedro the Lion leader and his bandmates were unharmed--was a couple lines from "Bands With Managers," the opening tune on Pedro's final studio album, 2004's Achilles Heel: "Vans with 15 passengers are rolling over/ But I trust T. William Walsh and I'm not afraid to die."
- Former Pedro the Lion Frontman Burns Bridges at Both Ends
"That's the first time that anything like this has ever happened, in all my years of touring," Bazan says over the phone from Toronto, explaining that he, bassist Andy Fitts, and drummer Alex Westcoat were at a bar hanging out with Crooked Fingers' Eric Bachmann--who was also in Chicago to play a show--when the accident happened. The drunk driver was arrested. The band's trailer was totaled, a kick drum and some other gear was damaged, and the van needed some serious repairs. But Bazan and company still made it to Grand Rapids, Michigan for a gig on Saturday night.
The incident may recall that Achilles lyric, but Bazan's currently on the road behind another chapter from Pedro's past: The band's penultimate 2002 LP, Control. Aside from it being the 10th anniversary of that celebrated album, it, along with four other Pedro releases (It's Hard To Find a Friend, Winners Never Quit, Only Reason I Feel Secure, and Achilles Heel) was just reissued on vinyl by Jade Tree on October 30. The aforementioned Walsh, who was a member of Pedro in the band's final few years, remastered all of them except Winners (engineer John McCaig handled that one).
Marking the 10-year milestone by playing the album in its entirety (in a set that also features other Pedro and solo material), says Bazan--who's been recording and touring under his own name since retiring the Pedro moniker in 2006--has been even more rewarding than he imagined when he first conceived this jaunt. "We've played seven of the 10 songs [on Control] at various points over the last three years, but playing all of them together like this is really fun and it makes me like each of them a little better," he says. "Emotionally, I'm able to find the spark that spurred writing them by doing it in this context."
Control's craggy, alternately chugging and crawling guitar-rock is in the service of a song cycle about a businessman who's murdered by his wife over his infidelities; images of illicit motel sex, religion, greed, materialism, and existential angst swirl together on what many Pedro fans consider the band's best, most fully realized album.