Living in Modesto changed singer’s life, and his song tells why. Who, how to see video

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Modesto is neither boring nor bologna.

That’s the word from Pedro the Lion, aka David Bazan, an indie singer-songwriter who spent such an impactful time in the city that he penned a song about it.

“Modesto” is the first single released from the upcoming album “Santa Cruz,” due out in June.

And as the chorus assures, “Modesto isn’t boring like you thought it would be / Modesto is not bologna like you thought it would be / Modesto isn’t lonely like you thought it would be.”

The album continues a planned “five-album arc” that started in 2019 with “Phoenix” and 2022’s “Havasu,” according to a story on the Relevant magazine website.

“Bazan said that each album is named after a different place he’s lived, and the stories are based on various points in his life,” according to the Relevant story. “This upcoming project takes place during his teenage years, from the time he turned 13 to the year the first Pedro the Lion EP dropped. ‘Modesto’ was written about a six-month stay in Modesto, California, where he wrote the first Pedro the Lion songs before deciding to move to Seattle and pursue music.”

According to a story on the Stereogum website, it’s “a narratively rich song that hits hard on every swaying downbeat,” built around the chorus.

In the video for “Modesto,” Bazan sings of getting a job selling vacuum cleaners and later working “at a local guitar store.”

But it was a tape handed to him by someone named Jim that changed things. In the video, Bazan can be seen putting a tape by critically acclaimed Modesto group Grandaddy into a cassette player during these accompanying lyrics:

“I heard the perfect song at work today / Having asked if there were bands to see and spots to play / Jim said hell yeah then he handed me a tape / What I heard in my Walkman headphones / Pacing by the speakers and PAs / Was a beautiful hilarious tragic mess / That sent tears streaming down my face / Grabbed me by the lapels, stood me up, and put a 4-track in my hand and told me son / Make all the messes you can manage to make.”

By the end of the song, he’s decided to move to Seattle to pursue his musical dreams.

“Of all the tunes on these records, I can’t think of another tune where I was really expressing my own agency,” Bazan is quoted in the Stereogum story. “It was the first time where I really had a choice of what I wanted to do. It became really clear in those six months when I lived in Modesto that I didn’t want to work any other job — I wanted to try and make music. This song definitely feels like the launch pad for what became the life that I chose.”

For more on Pedro the Lion and to see the video for “Modesto,” go to