David Bazan On The Changing Requirements Of Being A Musician

I know that the subscription service [Bazan Monthly offers subscribers two new songs on the first of each month for a limited period] has had good artistic results, including the songs that make up this album. But it seems that a lot of being a musician now means you have to be an entrepreneur.

You do. You do!

Maybe it was always that way, and we just came of age during a period when it was possible to kid yourself that wasn’t what you were. How do you feel about the changing nature of what’s required of you?

Um, it’s a lot. I can find myself feeling resentful every now and again about certain aspects of it. The work itself is not a problem, and the extra stuff. But then having to defend yourself constantly for saying that you feel like people should buy your music if they like it. When your heart is really hurting because you miss your family and it’s causing real problems in your relationship, and you’re trying your best, but you wish you had another three weeks at home before you have to leave, because you’re getting somewhere with the relationship woes and trying to come back from them. That’s happened so many times, where it’s like literally two days before I leave on tour, we come to this détente, or some peace and agreement and understanding. And it would have been so great to bask in that for five days, to live in the same house. We wouldn’t have been on vacation, just like doing the dishes and stuff without all of that tension. But then it’s like okay, I gotta go for six weeks or whatever. Basically I realized: Okay, you’ve proven that you’re willing to work hard and you’re committed to this thing, so just zoom out and figure out a way to be a little smarter about it. And the first form that took was figuring out a way to basically monetize work that you can do at home. I thought, you gotta get home and write songs. And you’ve got to make recordings as furiously as you drive a car. And you need to monetize that in a way that is a little shorter-term, potentially, than the album cycle. That’s where the Monthly thing came out of. Now what I think I was right about was that I needed to get the frequency up—of my output. But in hindsight, I feel like the album cycle is fine, but I need the albums to be a lot closer together.