It started the second Dave Bazan, leader of Pedro the Lion, announced he was forming a "synth band." The great collective rock writer voice rose from the dirty depths of its cum rag drawer and began to chant Dave! Bazan! Goes! Postal! Service! But then the record dropped, and it was nothing of the sort.
Headphones' self-titled Suicide Squeeze debut is dark and quiet and moody--a lot like Pedro. In fact, exactly like Pedro--only with keyboards instead of guitars. Bazan, on a cell phone driving through the Southern California mountains, says making '80s music or dance pop wasn't even a consideration. He had more personal reasons for the costume change; he wanted to move away from the rusty shackles of Christian rock that oft bound Pedro. "With Pedro the Lion there's still a lot of stigma surrounding the band," he says with a barely audible sigh. "We're hoping to take that down maybe even one notch by changing the context of it so people won't be able to automatically--in their lazy fucking minds--jump to the same conclusions about the Headphones as they do Pedro the Lion."
Not surprisingly, there's a lot of jumping and a lot of concluding on the Headphones message-board--which Bazan says he reads regularly.
"It's frustrating on one level but on another level I'm excited when somebody makes a decent point and some religious person has to be like, 'Oh, well I guess that is true.' Because it gives me hope that the state this country is in right now could be reversed or remedied.
But he also had more aesthetic reasons for doing Headphones: he fell in love with the synth.
"I was pretty disillusioned with Pedro the Lion because I was uncertain about my ability to keep a band together. Also, at that same point in time I got a synthesizer and was really enamored with the gear--just how flexible they are.
The plan, in the beginning, was to turn Pedro into a synth band, but friends talked him out of it. Thus was born the Headphones side band, a duo with Bazan on keyboards and longtime Pedro member T.W. Walsh on drums. It's harder to pull off live, but Bazan says he likes the challenge.
"It's complicated. First of all to play the right notes and do everything correctly every night but then, beyond that, have it live and breathe like rock 'n' roll... it's great. I really love it."