This interview was conducted via email with Soul Asylum lead singer/guitarist and founder Dave Pirner July 11 –
Aug 1, 2013.
For more information on Soul Asylum check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud, Rhapsody, MySpace, Last.fm, Enter the Soul Asylum, AllMusic, Wikipedia pages.
Dave Pirner: I started with trumpet lessons when I was in the second grade; I chose it because it looked easy but it turned out the opposite was true. When I was in Jr. High I switched to sax and was taking sax lessons, one day my sax teacher played Jimi Hendrix Experience to me…that’s the day I decided I wanted to play guitar.
OL: You recently released the first of four cover’s EPs entitled No Fun Intended. What’s the story behind the releases? How did you decide on which songs to cover for the records?
Dave P: It was all instigated by our drummer Michael Bland, he’s got a special way of putting a fresh twist on things. We wanted to reinterpret the songs that we grew up listening to and were inspired by. It’s been a really gratifying and fun experience getting into other writers heads and recording their songs.
OL: Over the years you have worked with independent and major record labels. How would you compare those different experiences? Why did you decided to self-release No Fun Intended?
Dave P: I loved being on Twin/Tone, it had been a childhood fantasy of mine and was an amazing experience. Being on a major label was great too, we were lucky in the sense that we had already made a few albums before Columbia and our A&R person believed and trusted in what we were doing so that enabled us to retain our creative control, also being on a major really helped to learn the ins & outs of the industry. But the real difference between being on an independent vs. a major label is the budget you have to work with.
OL: The band is currently on the road as part of The LP Tour with Matthew Sweet, The Wailers, and Big Head Todd & the Monsters, performing the album Grave Dancers Union in its entirety. How did you get involved with the tour? What’s the experience been like so far?
Dave P: The LP Tour promoters called and asked if we wanted to do the tour, to be honest at first I wasn’t sure, I felt like I had already toured that album but the rest of the band was really excited about the idea which in turn got me really excited about it. As it turns out it’s been a really good time, some of those songs were never played live so it feels surprisingly fresh.
OL: How has your songwriting changed over the years? Do you have any specific type of songwriting process?
Dave P: It sounds silly but the more it changes the more it stays the same, the more I try and change the process the more I go back to the same way it began. I have carried a Dictaphone around for 20 years; I have notebooks filled with ideas, thoughts, and lyrics. The best way to do it would be to just sit down with a pen & paper at a piano or with a guitar but you can’t force inspiration and I tend to always be working on something in my head.
OL: If you had to pick one album that you think best showcases Soul Asylum’s music and how the band has evolved over the years, which one would it be?
Dave P: Delayed Reaction
OL: What are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry?
Dave P: That’s a hard question, sometimes it feels like art is being forced to try and keep up with technology which is really disappointing but the other end of having all the technology is it’s really cool that it has opened up so many ways for young talent to kick start their careers and showcase themselves. But you are taking to a guy who still listens to vinyl, not because I’m old fashion, I just think it sounds better.
OL: This is a High Fidelity inspired question. What are your top 5 favorite bands/artists, albums, movies, television series, and books/authors?
Dave P: Books --
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Siddhartha is a novel by Hermann Hesse
The Big Lebowski
Rolling Stones – Exile on
The Clash –
Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life
Janis Joplin –
Metallica – Ride the Lightening
OL: What’s next for the band?
OL: Any final thoughts?
Dave P: We also have a few more cover song EP’s coming soon this year and a new album from Soul Asylum in early 2014 and a lot more touring to come.