Dying Scene had the privilege of catching up with Dave Hause prior to his taking the stage at the Boston stop of Flogging Molly’s ninth annual Green 17 tour. We covered a lot of ground, including plans to reissue his debut full-length, “Resolutions,” squeezing in time to record his sophomore album amidst a heavy touring schedule, where he draws songwriting inspiration from, and what it’s like oscillating between the punk rock and singer-songwriter worlds. And Pearl Jam, lots of Pearl Jam.
Check it out here.
Jay Stone (Dying Scene): Generic ass first question…um…it’s a week-and-a-half or so into the tour with Floggin Molly and Skinny Lister, how’s it going so far, aside from getting sick apparently?
Dave Hause: It’s going alright. This is a difficult tour. It feels like work.
Yeah. Just to be perfectly honest with you. Flogging Molly are old friends and they are super benevolent, they really are. They are very free with their hospitality and that kind of stuff. They let my stuff ride with them.
You know, they actually offered me a spot on the bus and that kind of jazz, which I took. I may not continue that for the tour because I really need to finish up a couple of songs and I need the solitude to write and stuff. But the actual playing to their crowd, I mean people have been kind. I haven’t gotten, like, any static or anything like that. But there is sort of a, I mean it’s just a difficult job. You know people are like there for the 9th annual, obviously, Flogging Molly Green 17 tour.
Flogging Molly just delivers that show, you know, that wild, spastic, all-inclusive show, and what I’m doing is certainly, currently, it’s different than that, you know, cuz I’m just doing it with a guitar. But people, I think, who are into songwriting and, you know, into I guess that element of what Flogging Molly brings to the table are responding. It just feels like work.
It seems like a little bit of a different crowd maybe….
…maybe then you’ve done. I mean, granted it’s also punk and it’s also that sort of thing but it seems just from afar like a very different crowd. Like this is different from a lot of the other tours that I think that you’ve done solo.
Yeah, yeah. I think that’s good, I mean, it stretches you and it’s good to have work in the winter without a new record out. I’m certainly fortunate to get a tour like this. I’m playing in front of thousands and thousands of people. I think, the one thing I’ve noticed, the older I get and the more you kinda watch what’s going on, I think that once you get beyond 500 people for any audience you’re dealing with, you know, it’s just like the rings on a bullseye…
The 500 hundred core fans are really into the lyrics and into the specifics of the band’s culture and then as you go out into the thousands or something like that, people are there because they know five songs or they’re there because their buddy bought them a ticket, they’re there because it’s a party and so, especially in America, I think that’s true. And I think that makes it interesting for support bands.
So you really have to just do your best work and hope that the core music fans there are going to respond. You know, if I can get a hundred people to remember my name and remember what I do, out of 2000, then I think I’m doing something right. Because again I know how it is, you go to a giant rock show where there is 2, 4 or 5 thousand people and your babysitter may have showed up late or your dinner plans went wrong… So even getting people in the building is a fortunate thing. So I just try to keep that all in perspective because it can become a little, like, “Can I get through here?…Is this thing on?”
Have people been showing up early?
Yeah. It’s full, it’s completely full when I play. Like again, they are keenly aware of that, Flogging Molly are, that…they have the doors open and then there’s an hour to get people in. Because they have diehards and people are crammed in and people who run up to the front. But it’s interesting even opening for Gaslight Anthem here in the States and then in Europe and the (Bouncing) Souls, other various support stuff that I’ve done, there’s always a pocket of people that knows what I’m up to, even if it’s via The Loved Ones. But here I’ve found out that that pocket is extremely small in a Fogging Molly audience, which is interesting. So that does make the job harder but the reward is that you get to play.
I’ll tell you that, I think when I saw that the tour was announced, I thought it was interesting. I thought that, “it’s not who he normally tours with.” You sort of get lumped in with the Chuck Ragan’s and the Gaslights and the Souls and stuff. How did it come about; how did it come out that way that Flogging Molly approached you or you approached them or…?
I mean again they are old friends. When I worked for the Bouncing Souls, the very first tour I did, Flogging Molly was their direct support …
They were just coming up and I kinda double-dipped and did stage for them and it was a great tour. And it was really fun and over the years at various festivals we’d see each other and them um…and then when The Loved Ones made our second record, they took us out on tour. It was one of the last tours we did before we began to kinda take long breaks. So it’s been over the years, you know, you see them, they’re busy, I’m busy, we’ve been to a lot of the same things. But then this past summer I was in Europe doing a couple festivals and one of the happened to be, it was bizarre, it was like a city street in Switzerland that was closed down and it was The Hives, Flogging Molly and me on the bill
Yeah it was crazy. So they were I guess still putting together Green 17, this was like five or six months ago and they were like, “Hey, Dave, that was great and da da da da, so would you be interested in doing it?” And what I think they were trying to do originally was to have it be Flogging Molly, Bouncing Souls and me, so it would have been kind of like a reunion from like ten, twelve years ago when we did that initial tour.
But the Souls ended up getting the Descendents tour…
So that was basically it, like they saw me and what I was doing, and they were aware that I covered their song (“Whistles The Wind”), and because we were friends. But I think a lot of it is, you see it and you’re like “this makes sense,” and it does, it makes sense to us, maybe more than the crowd.
Yeah, it’s sort of interesting to see Flogging Molly for me now, because I think the first time I saw them was here (House of Blues) when it was something else..
Yeah, it may have even been Axis that time. But they were opening for the Bosstones. They were the opener, and then the Dropkicks and then the Bosstones….
Wow, what a show.
Yeah, it was the annual…
Oh, the Hometown Throwdown.
Yeah, the Hometown Throwdown. So it’s sort of interesting to go from Flogging Molly being the band that is on when everybody is just showing up and figuring out, you know, because that was probably 11-12 years ago now, so to have them be the band that at the time everybody was like “these guys are sorta cool, but who are these guys?” to now having them taking over…
Oh my God, they’re an enormous band. Like these rooms…to be playing in America in the winter to 4000 people in Chicago is so, so difficult. And it’s not like the bill is, not like they, like the bill is two people nobody really knows about; Skinny Lister, and I only have one record out.
Yeah, I’ll be honest, I didn’t know who Skinny Lister was.
They’re great. I mean..
In hindsight, I’ve heard them now…
I mean they are going to do well. They seem to have the thing that is happening right now. you know, with the Lumineers, Mumford and Sons all that kind of jazz. It seems like it fits with that. But yeah to be basically have that many tickets sold on their own steam. I mean they’ve done really, really well. It’s a testament to their shows, and their music…
Yeah, ‘cause they put on a hell of a show.
They’re great. I mean Flogging Molly’s a great band.
You probably don’t get to sneak “Whistles The Wind” into the set list, right? Is that sort off limits now?
Well no…actually in Europe when I played those shows, they did it and I sang it with them. But they took it off the set list this tour I guess because they’ve done it so much. And they were kicking it around, and they were thinking “Hey why don’t you play it, and we will come back you up on your set?”
We just haven’t worked it out. We should do it. But the first week was a little hectic. And then last night, you know, hometown for me, Philly, so I mean maybe we’ll get to it tonight, I don’t know, I think I know it. Maybe I just need a little refresher.
That would be pretty interesting. You would probably catch the ear of a lot of the people who showed up ya know early to get the good spot for Flogging Molly.
Yeah, that might be a good trick.
There’s a story years ago, not completely off topic but… Pearl Jam and Nirvana were playing together… I’m reading the “Pearl Jam 20” book finally and…
Oh, that book is amazing!
It is. And um, the story about them and Nirvana sharing a bill somewhere and then starting a show with “Teen Spirit” and then Nirvana came out afterwards and because “Teen Spirit” was just about to blow up, so I think McCready started playing it and was like “hahahah we played it first, fuckers.”
Ya, actually Dave and, you know, Dave King and them were like “Why don’t you do it in your set?” And I was like “I would never do that,” you know, without their blessing and it is a little strange but ya know I was talking to somebody, oh my friend Brian, he’s a promoter in Philly and he’s used to tour with Rocket From The Crypt, when they toured with Rancid. You know Rocket was a legendary band, one of the best live bands you could find, and they opened for Rancid and it wasn’t quite going over and then Rancid started to play with them in their set, and it turned the crowd instantly. Ya know sometimes it takes that little thing to figure out what works.
So speaking of, um, nothing…Resolutions is not available on Spotify anymore. Which may not be your decision obviously but what are your sort of thoughts on the Spotify’s of the world and what are you going to do without that fifteen cent royalty check that they send you?
Well, that’s just in the interim between the label that initially put out Resolutions in the States and then Rise Records is re-releasing Resolutions March the 27th.
They’ve got it now.
I don’t know that I knew that.
Yeah, they are putting out the record in North, well worldwide except for the UK and Europe. That’s Xtra Mile, ya know the label that puts out Frank (Turner) and stuff
Yeah yeah yeah
But, so in the interim, the old label pulled it down as per our request, and it’s all getting pushed out by Rise’s distribution. It’s a little bit of a frustration to not have it available on tour, but the 7-inches kind of come in handy in that respect.
Is it at least available here at the shows?
Yeah, whatever I have left for CDs from the last label are available, but I’ll be out of those soon. Yeah, it just was a better opportunity to kind of ramp it up and make it more available.
Yeah, it seems like Rise has a lot larger reach than Paper + Plastick did…
Yeah, for sure, they do, and it just was a better situation for me and, you know, I’ve brought on management just to kind of help with everything that’s going on, they sort of orchestrated that whole thing. I think it’s going to be a good thing. But, as far as Spotify goes, I’m a Premium Spotify user, it’s a great service, but, you know, I kind of have the same perspective on Spotify as I did on illegal filesharing. It’s currently the world we’re living in, I have nothing to get on the pulpit and say about it. I’m aware of all the negative ways it affects my livelihood, but I’m also aware of how great it is to be able to put on Emmylou Harris or the Deftones or an old Wings record, whatever it is that I want to hear at that minute…so it’s hard to argue with the usefulness of that as a music lover.
As a music maker, you know, the whole infrastructure is shook up, and it’s got all its pluses and minuses…we could go on about this to no end. Basically, the old way that things were done when rock and roll exploded was exploitative of artists. You know, “make this thing that we can press into a plastic thing that we can sell, and you’re going to get bent over the barrel. You’re the artist, and we’re going to make all the money.” That was the paradigm.
So that shifted to such a degree that some of my older friends that made a lot of money on record sales have been hit. But I never was in a position where I sold tons and tons of pieces of plastic. I mean, The Loved Ones sold okay, but it’s not like I was able to put a down payment on a house or anything, I did all that with construction. So, I’m real interested to see where it’ll go. And I’m a touring guy, I’m a live performer, that’s so much more of where I cut my teeth.
You know, I spend as much time and energy on the records and the recording and the writing as I do the live thing, but I’m aware of what I’m up against and I’m okay with the circumstances. As much as I think they’re rigged against artists, I’m not gonna do anything about it, but I’m not gonna lay down and die and not make music just because it’s not fair. I’m just more curious where advocates of musicians…you know, there are some great services out there that, it’s like anything else, you change the hearts and minds of people and make them aware of how this effects artists and things. And then there’s also policy makers who are doing their best work to try to change all this. Somewhere along the line hopefully the artist gets empowered. I mean, if you look at Amanda Palmer, she’s taking the bull by the horns…
Absolutely, she’s owning it..
Yeah, so there’s ways around that sort of web of Spotify if you’re creative and you think on your feet, I don’t think it’s a crippling thing. If you think in the old way, then yeah, Spotify is going to ruin your day.
What do you think has had more of an impact on the art, something like that, or something like YouTube. Because, it used to be…you and I are the same age, it used to be that one of the things that you looked forward to as a music consumer was, following bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden and stuff, was trading bootlegs and hearing bands work through material live, just maybe jam for a few minutes, figure out a riff, and then that morphs into a song down the road. You can’t really do that anymore, it doesn’t seem, because it’s on YouTube before the show you were playing is even over.
Yeah, you know, it’s interesting because…in writing a new record, I love playing new songs on tour. It’s what makes the old songs feel exciting, you have to put them into perspective. So I love playing new songs live. But sure, that definitely happens. At some of the bigger festivals that I played last year, I’d play a new song and then the next day it was like, on YouTube…
Right, and then I’m sure we ran a story like “Dave Hause debuts a new song”
Right. And by 10AM there’s like three or four hundred people that had already watched it. But, I just try to keep the perspective of, like, 300 years ago the people who played music would have been the last ones to eat. They were the jesters. And so, it just happens to be at this point in time, the last hundred years, or not even hundred years, for this extreme focus has been put on music makers and songwriters and that’s great, and it makes the whole rock star thing work, and it makes a business out of what we do. But ultimately, I just try to think that “hey look, there’s all these people in some new song I made up in a backstage room or on a couch.” and I’m fortunate because there’s thousands of people in line behind me saying “I want that that. I want people to give one damn about what I’m doing. I want someone to even hear it.” And there’s people way better at it than me. So it boils down to perspective. I can’t do anything about YouTube, other than to try to use it to my advantage. I try to not just stamp my feet about stuff. Like, it’s a younger man’s game to kind of like stamp your feet and say what’s fair… I’m not interested in that…
I’m interested in sharing music and getting some kind of experience between the two. And as far as the money goes, you know, I’m making enough to eat and get by, and I don’t have to pick up a hammer. So to me, it’s working out. So that stuff can be worried about…that’s why I hired management, to worry about getting me paid, you know (laughs). Because to me, I would do this for free. So I try to let that be my perspective and not get swept away and like “oh fuck, it’s on YouTube now and Spotify now.” I mean, I’m sure people were angry that me and my friends were dubbing tapes and bootlegs like you were talking about
And we’d trade them around, but they’re like “oh what the hell man, we didn’t finish “Hunger Strike” yet and it’s already on a cassette.” You know, just be happy anyone gives a shit. I think that’s a better way to look at it.
That’s a great way to look at it. And I feel that there’s not a lot of people who, well maybe in this scene yeah, but as that sort of umbrella spreads out a little bit, I don’t think a lot of people think that way.
I think you’re right. I think that I’ve been blessed with a circle of friends or a scene that I come from or I’ve intentionally surrounded myself with people who keep that as their focal point. You know, everybody from, Flogging Molly to Gaslight Anthem to Bouncing Souls to Alkaline Trio…any of those people, if you sat them down in this room and really boiled it down, they’d agree with that. They’re psyched that people care. So I think that’s an inherent thing to our scene. And I think that guys like Chuck Ragan, who work tirelessly.
It seems like he’s on the road all the time…
Yeah, I think the idea that you can, I mean, it’s rarefied air to breath what we’re breathing, let alone that idea that you can be like an untouchable star. I think a lot of times when you get to that point, you lose touch with the zeitgeist, and you can’t really even write properly.
I mean, how many times has one of your favorite songwriters, and I won’t name any names, but they put out a record and you’re like, “what the hell is this person talking about?” Because they’re kind of a little too out of touch. I don’t know, I like having my feet a little closer to the ground.
It’s funny you mention that. I remember a while ago you posting a picture that you were reading Pete Townshend’s autobiography.
This sorta relates. I’m about 90% of the way through it myself.
See, I got stalled out on it…
I did too, but I think, finally, the back half of it became real interesting. I glossed over a bit of the beginning myself.
Oh, okay, that’s good to know…
But I think the back half, you know, right after the Keith Moon death, I think it gets a lot easier to read.
Really, that’s great to know.
But it also, I think, as successful as Pete Townshend was and is, the process that he was trying to hold onto in creating material, you know, when nobody else got it. And the amount of torture that he put himself through…
…trying to, and I think especially after The Who, trying to craft, still trying to do an operatic piece and view an album as a whole “thing,” the amount of time and effort that he put into it, driving himself nuts…and where was I going with that? Oh, you talk about artists that have been around for years, and then they get so detached and they put out an album that’s like, “wow, really, that’s what you wanted to say there?” I think that’s part of Pete’s stuff, because some of his solo stuff makes me say “nope…nope, didn’t hit a home run there.”
Yeah, I think that he… I really related to a lot of the torture that he put himself through because it had very little to do with commercial success. Like, that was kind of okay, and he was psyched that he made money and it did well, but I think more, he had something to prove. And I think that that’s where lyrically, I struggle so much with that. I’ve gotta put out lyrics that I can live with. And, I guess the bar for me is set so high that I delete and edit and drive myself out of my mind, 4 or 5 in the morning, just like “God, I need to take a walk because this is making me crazy.” And it makes my friends and people close to me crazy, and it’s not fun. But the payoff is when you break through and you get something that you can live with. So I really related to a lot of that with him, because it’s not about…the success is like proving it to yourself, that you’re not just a complete phony. And he’s one of the best, most genius songwriter, rock and roll minds…nevermind just songwriting, just so far above the curve. And he was surrounded, to some degree, with all due respect, the rest of his band were kind of just there for, you know, drugs and women. At least, like Daltrey…
Right, by their own admission too…
Yeah, and Moon…like, I take nothing away from their talent. But he was cerebrally so locked into his own world. He was so far away from the rest of the band.
Which has gotta be tough…
Oh my God, yeah…
…to know that they are able, musically, obviously they’re talented as hell, so that they are the ones that are capable of translating what’s in your head.
But that relationship has gotta be tough. And that carries throughout the rest of the book…him being distant from those guys and going years without talking to them, and then they’ll show up and play a show and then…I mean, from this side of the aisle, it seems weird.
Because you assume that a band is, you know, it’s four best friends who got in a van, and they drove around the country, you know. But you know, the more people in bands that you know…that’s not the case.
No it’s really not the case, and it’s not even natural. It’s not a natural thing in your 30s, and then certainly in your 40s and 50s, to have your three best buddies around you all the time. I mean, who runs that program. Once you get married and have kids and all that jazz, you see your buddies every Friday at best. But, I think that’s the myth of the band. It’s the myth of rock and roll and the band, and it’s what people glommed on with the Beatles. That you’re greater than the sum of your parts when you get all your buddies together, it’s a gang, and you’re going to defeat the world. That’s what people sign up for, and so you kind of have to respect that if you’re going to keep the band together, that this is what the people came and signed up for. So you have to do your best to navigate
…the fact that you want to strangle those guys half the time, as much as you love them. And any of my friends that are still banging it out with bands would attest to the same thing. I mean Hot Water Music are like four brothers. And your brothers are great at a birthday party. Even grown up. But then you’re with your brother for a month…
Yeah, you’re locked in a sardine can together for a month…
Right…and you want to kick his ass.
Right…and one won’t stop farting and one’s got the feet that stink…
And one can’t drive for shit…
And one’s wasted every night, and one’s reading a book and you don’t like that book. You’re crammed into weird corners. But, again, it’s nice to be out with a band like Flogging Molly. Sixteen years in, they’re a relentless touring band, they don’t stop. And they make it work somehow. On that bus there’s thirteen of them, on a twelve bunk bus. It’s crazy, there’s no space, and they are inviting me in to sleep on the couch. That’s a testament to the spirit of what they do. And that comes through on stage, it comes through in their songs. It’s a great, great thing to witness.
You’ve been doing this solo thing, and I think this solo thing has obviously become “the thing” now, the sort of folk-punk, frontman going acoustic has become its own thing now…
But I think different people are doing it differently, and I think you’re one of them that’s doing it differently.
Oh, thank you.
At what point do you think you cross from being “Dave Hause from The Loved Ones” to being “Dave Hause.”
Well, I think that that’s happened in Europe already. It’s mostly happened in Canada. I haven’t worked as hard in the States as I could have. Not sure why, I guess you just go with the bird in hand, but, I’ll be working the States harder. And I don’t think it’ll be long. But we (The Loved Ones) only made two records.
Or is that even a goal?
That’s certainly a goal. That’s one thing that frustrated me being in The Loved Ones. Because as much as we had great opportunities, a lot of them were steeped in the punk tradition. And we’d tour with bands that we love, and that had big audiences, but that didn’t really make sense to my sensibility musically. Like, The Hold Steady was one where I thought “my God, this makes sense to me.” Whereas, touring with NOFX, as fun as it is, sonically and songwriting-wise, we’re not similar at all. So I think, and being on the label that we were on, I mean, as great as they are, they built a punk rock thing, a 90s punk rock thing that I don’t have a lot of, I don’t identify that much with it, other than just being good friends with those guys.
But yeah, that’s totally a goal. My goal is to be a songwriter, moreso than anything. And I think…I’m gunning down that path. And the punk part of it, I guess, is a little peculiar I guess, because I feel like I’ve played with most of the people that are doing it, at least most of the people that’re doing it on a pretty regular scale, and it’s rare that I find we have the same…approach, or expectation. Even Chuck (Ragan). I mean, Chuck is one of my best friends, and a guy who I respect and I think he’s unbelievable. But his whole take on it…his solo show, with the fiddle and the upright bass…I’m not going for that. I’m not a bluegrass musician. I’m not, and I’d be a phony if I told you I was. He is. That’s legit for him.
Yeah, it seems like that makes total sense for him, almost more than older Hot Water Music at this point, from the perspective of…I didn’t grow up on Hot Water Music, I caught on to them late, like, Caution.
Oh, you should go back, man…
Over the last couple of years I have…
Oh my God, they’re an unbelievable band.
But that was…you know, I grew up, as a child, with my folks listening to Springsteen…
…and Billy Joel, and Mellencamp. So, all ‘songwriters.’ And then on my own I got into bands like Pearl Jam and stuff like that. Still ‘songwriters’…
Mmhmm, yeah, me too..
Or at least they were songwriters, I don’t really know anymore…
(laughs) They’re still songwriters, they’re just rich. (both laugh)
Well, I don’t know…the last album. I mean, I’ve been a fan of them since day one, but the last one…Eddie’s got nothing to be pissed off about anymore, and…
You mean Backspacer?
Oh my God, I love that record.
Musically, I like it. Lyrically…I think he phoned it in.
Oh I disagree. That record blew me away. I thought he was so joyful.
And maybe that’s what’s different. And maybe I’m just not used to that Eddie. And then the ukulele album, which I think is good…
I think he did that to fuck with people.
He did, and a lot of it was written, I guess, a long time ago, he just more recently managed to put it out.
Yeah, those songs are so great, and he’s almost, like, defying you to find the song. Because they all run together, the ukulele is the same sound for ten songs or whatever it is…
I think that his evolution as a guy who’s hammered it out over the years came through on that Backspacer record. I thought that he…that “Fixer” song is just, I don’t know, I’m on board. When he says…or, “Got Some If You Need It”…
That one I love
I think “The Fixer” is a great song, musically, but lyrically…that’s not the Eddie that I remember.
Yeah, but I don’t want that Eddie.
I’ve had this discussion with my buddy and my brother a lot… it’s not the old…it’s not as angry, it’s not as emotional that way. I love that we’re talking this long about Pearl Jam (both laugh). I don’t think he translates the joy as well as he translates the pain and the anger and the being pissed off. Even through Riot Act, which I think is a great, great album.
Yeah, Riot Act is great.
Which a lot of people don’t, I think, in the Pearl Jam world. But I love it. And ultimately it’s my favorite of theirs. But I just think that, like, once Obama came in, and (Eddie) got married and he had kids, now it’s just ‘mellow Eddie.’ It’s just different…
It is different, but I think…it’s rare that you find…I mean, you want to find that peace in life. I don’t want him to be…
Oh right, I’m happy as hell for him personally.
(both laugh) I know, right. But it is rare that you can translate that into compelling music. I do think he nailed it on Backspacer, though. I disagree. I think that joy, that…that last song, it’s a real tearjerker…
“The End,” that song, oh my God. “Supersonic” is just a badass record. I think that record is just, pound-for-pound one of their best, I love it.
Alright, we can agree to disagree. I do know…the first time I listened to it…I got the Ten Club version early. And my brother and my best friend have all been fans since the beginning. And I got it first, and we had this thing about, you know, going to a place at midnight and buying albums right when they came out, that’s sort of been our tradition. But nobody really does that anymore, because you can’t go to Target at midnight (both laugh). But, so I had heard the album first, and I told my buddy “It’s good…the last song (“The End”) is gonna punch you in the stomach.”
I think he nailed it on that one. But again, that’s not a positive song. That last line “I’m here, but not much longer…” and then he lets it sort of drift…
That’s the part, I think that’s a punch in the stomach.
Yeah. Hmmm…I don’t know. (pause) I think…getting back to that other question. I’m approaching it a lot more along the lines of, you know, I’m a rock and roll guy. All of those same influences are mine…Billy Joel and Springsteen and Mellencamp and Tom Petty is a giant one. And then certainly Pearl Jam and all that stuff, Fugazi. And then, as far as songwriters go Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, and Conor Oberst and Patty Griffin and all those types. I mean, that’s kinda where I am heading artistically. That’s where my bar is set lyrically. And I’m happy to be part of…you know, it’s funny. My friend Cory Branan has got one foot sort of in our world and then a foot into the more critically-acclaimed, singer-songwriter world, based on his label and all that jazz…
I was saying to him…I think I had secured an Alkaline Trio tour or something like that. And I love that band. They’re great friends and an awesome band. But I said something to him that, like, it’s great, but I really want to go on tour with, I think it was Justin Townes Earle or Jason Isbell or somebody. And Cory just looked at me and he was like, “You know you’re going to play with five times more people opening for Alkaline Trio…(both laugh)…than you will with either of those guys?” And I said “really?”. And he said “yeah.” And I said “but they’re the ones everyone’s writing about…” And he goes, “if I didn’t have a foot in the punk world, and I just toured with my singer-songwriter buddies, I wouldn’t eat.” He was like “so count your blessings, take the tours that come, and cultivate your own aesthetic and do your thing, but don’t think that any critical acclaim that you might seek…
… is going to translate to anything
…yeah, is going to put a cheeseburger on your plate.” And it was really good advice. I mean, he’s a guy I look up to, he’s an unbelievable lyricist and a good friend, but it was good advice to hear. I mean the grass is always greener. Like ‘oh, I want to be in American Songwriter.’ And he was like “eventually you will, you’ll get in there. But for now, you’re doing well, people are interested in what you’re doing, who gives a shit who they are.” And it was great to hear. So, we’ll see. I mean, I’ve got my ear much more to the ground over there than I do to the punk world, it’s just something I’m not quite as dialed in with. I mean, when my friends make new records, I buy them and I love them. But I’m sort of already there. I’m already gonna like the new Trio record, which is great, by the way.
Yeah, they just finally released the first song today…
That “Warhol” song, right?
Yeah, that’s an interesting song.
That song’s awesome.
Yeah, it’s an interesting song. It’s very much a Skiba song…obviously…
Yeah. The Dan songs are great, the Matt songs are great. It’s a great album.
I’m looking forward to that one… Switching gears. You go straight from this to Revival Tour. Then it seems like you might have a little time off, then you go to Australia with the Gaslight Anthem…
Actually, there’s no time off. From here, to LA to do the record. I go from LA to Revival Tour, Revival Tour right to Europe to do festivals and headliners, and from Europe right to Australia with Gaslight. And then it’s like pretty much June.
Oh, so you go to LA to do the new record…that’s already booked…because it seems like we’ve been hearing “new Dave Hause album in the works” for a while, but then theres a new tour, and another new tour…
Yeah, that’s a big reason why I’ve gotta rent a car again, to finish up a couple last few songs. I’ve got the songs. And I go in right after this tour for a week of pre-production and then three or four weeks of tracking in LA. So, I’m excited
I didn’t realize you had three or four weeks between this and Revival. It seemed like there was less time than that.
No, I have from February 19th to March 23rd, so it’s about four or five weeks.
And then you’re back here (in Boston)…
Yeah, I’m back here with Revival at…Paradise?
Yeah, Paradise (Rock Club).
Yeah, I’m excited. That tour is always a high point.
Yeah, I haven’t caught it yet.
Oh my God, you’re going to be blown away. It’s such a great night. Did you see that video they put out.
Yeah, just today. And it’s a great lineup this year. It’s an interesting lineup.
Yeah, I’m excited. I don’t know some of the people that are gonna be on it. But most of them I’m familiar with and friendly with. Jenny’s an old friend, Chuck’s one of my best buds. Tim (McIlrath) and I toured together. He’s an amazing dude. Such a charismatic performer.
Yeah, I wish he was on this stop, but I don’t think he is.
Yeah, I think he comes on in the Midwest. And, like, the venues take a pretty significant uptick. (both laugh) You go from 5-600 capacities to, like, House of Blues. But I’m excited. I’ve learned so much. I did the whole tour in Europe, and I did five days of it last year in the States, and I did five days of it in 2009. And each time, no matter how long I was on it, I learned a lot, and just got better at playing and…it’s such an enriching time. It’s exhausting…I mean there’s twenty-nine shows without a day off. So..
Yeah, they’ve added a couple more just within the last couple days.
Yeah, Chuck always spackles in all the cracks…(in gravelly, Chuck Ragan-esque voice) “If you ain’t playin’, you’re dead!” (both laugh). But, I mean, I’m right on board with that. I don’t like downtime.
Seems that way…
Yeah, I might put a little bit more downtime in. But I like what I do. The joy, the reward is in the work, so do it, take it.
When you’re writing now, because you’ve been doing so much stuff that’s just you and a guitar, does that change the way you write for the next album? Like, are you still writing with a band in mind…
I’m kinda always writing with a band in mind, to some degree. Like, if the song calls for it, just the simplest arrangements or even a cooky arrangement, just like banging on trash can or something like Tom Waits. That’s kind of in mind in the writing. But I write more from the rock and roll perspective, I’m not thinking…I like the challenge of dumbing the song back down. Not dumbing it down but boiling it down..
Translating it, yeah..
Yeah, down to its base elements. And if it works that way, then I think you’ve got something that people can sink their teeth into. If it doesn’t work with just a guitar or a piano or something, then I think you might be in trouble.
Do you write that way? Do you write sort of big and then try to translate it down, or do you write small…
I write small, just chords and melodies and lyrics, but I’m usually thinking about how to play it with a band. And eventually, I’ll bring a band for certain tours. I’m hoping to actually bring a band out for festivals in Europe this summer. But we’ll see, it kinda just expands and contracts based on my needs, like, “can I afford to bring a band? Does it make sense to have a band?” You know, for a tour like this, a band would make it a hell of a lot easier. Not on my pocketbook. Whereas, for headlining, it might make more sense to bring pieces, different pieces of a band. We’ll see, i just like to keep it moving. All my favorite songwriters, sometimes you’ll see them, like, you’ll see Billy Bragg with a full band or just with a guitar, Steve Earle does the same thing, Patty Griffin could bring a band if she wanted or bring one or two different elements, like a percussionist and a keyboard player…so, that’s kind of the way I think about it. Like, I could do it just with a guitar or go from there. I just say Conor Oberst do a show in Philly where he had a guy with a xylophone, a piano, a couple guitars. He had a woman just come out and sing about five songs with him, and it was so cool, because it wasn’t anything that you’ve seen. Like…a xylophone, it seems bizarre, but it worked so well, and it was so creative. And again, you saw the mastery of the songwriting because they could just be played in so many different ways. So I try to keep myself challenged that way. And I think it also puts the emphasis on the songs, and the work that you do.
Getting back to this whole sort of punk-singer-going-acoustic and going solo thing, do you think that’s sort of a byproduct of the economy now or is that…
Yeah, I think that has a lot to do with it. And I also think that there are some great songwriters who get frustrated with their work not being taken as seriously based on the genre. I think it’s a two-pronged thing. It’s economics for sure, and then it’s also that. I mean, it would be interesting to see how many punk rock songwriters’ favorite songwriters are Leonard Cohen and Ryan Adams, that’s no secret. But I don’t know. I’ve definitely toured with some guys that, you know are definitely just doing this for the money. Which is fine, I mean, I’m not judging it, but it’s less compelling to me, and I think a guy like Chuck is a perfect example of a guy who’s got a vision. He’s got a vision for his solo work, he’s got a vision for the Revival tour. I think Dan Andriano’s record is a similar kind of thing. I’m not sure…I got to the table a little late, as a guy from a band doing the solo thing. But I just try not to let any of that stuff cloud my work. My work is to make up songs that I think are interesting and compelling and that will have something to bring to the table, that people will get something out of. Beyond that, like, all the genre stuff, I just try to keep moving so that I don’t get attached to one specific thing.
We’ve pretty much exhausted the list of topics that I came in with, and I know you’ve got a show to get ready for. I want to thank you again for meeting up.Add Dave Hause to My Radar