Dave Hause

Photo by Katie Hovland

Dave Hause, singer/guitarist of The Loved Ones, released his solo debut earlier this year, entitled Resolutions. The album explores various genres and features several guest musicians, yet it’s Hause’s ability to craft memorable songs and tell stories with his lyrics that shines through most and brings the music together. We caught up with Hause before his recent show at Bottom Lounge to discuss Resolutions, in terms of the manner in which it was recorded and the ideas behind some of its songs. We also talked about the singer/songwriters that inspire him, what it was like playing shows with Tommy Stinson, music videos and more.

Bill – What were some of the things that made you begin writing and recording solo material?

Dave – Well, I had it in mind to do that all along. I wanted to make a solo record at some point, but to be honest, the timing isn’t exactly right. Ideally, it would have been after three or four Loved Ones records. What happened was after the second album, Build & Burn, we did a ton of touring and kind of burnt ourselves out a little bit. Our drummer kind of had a freak-out and we had to cancel a tour. There was just some internal bleeding I suppose. We sort of made plans to not make plans, which was the first time in four years that the band found itself in that position. So, I was writing songs that I thought were going to be for the next Loved Ones record, but the inactivity, coupled with the fact that the songs weren’t really Loved Ones songs, ended up turning it into a solo record. It kind of makes The Loved Ones’ third record long overdue, but I’ve quite enjoyed it. It’s a little sooner than I wanted to do it, like with the way I envisioned things working out, but it’s been great. The response has been great. It was really fun to make and it’s been fun to play and stretch myself in a way that I didn’t figure I would have to do for a while.

Bill – How would you say the songs on Resolutions differ from the music you typically write with The Loved Ones?

Dave – They just felt like they weren’t all grouped around one common theme, which I like to do with Loved Ones records. I like to kind of have one thing in mind that I’m writing around after the songs start to come. These were just ten or twelve different ideas that I had that were more grouped together thematically by the music and not so much the lyrics. I don’t think they’re actually that different, I think it’s more of an arrangement issue. I think what we started doing with Build & Burn, with adding pianos and extra instrumentation, I saw through to its next place. It’s more of a singer/songwriter record than a Loved Ones record. I feel like if we would’ve pushed The Loved Ones further in that direction it may have been not the best thing for us. I think The Loved Ones are best when we’re a cranked-up, Friday night, party kind of band. Not that we write about that kind of thing, but I think it’s better as a raucous, rock ‘n roll show and it wouldn’t have been appropriate to interpret these songs in that kind of way.

Bill – Resolutions was recorded by Bouncing Souls guitarist Pete Steinkopf and mastered by Descendents/ALL guitarist Stephen Egerton. What was the album’s recording process like?

Dave – It was interesting. Pete asked about the songs that I was working on, we keep in touch regularly and he’s one of my best buds. I sent him some demos and asked what he thought, and right away he was like, “Let’s make this. We need to make this into a record.” I didn’t want to spend a lot of time with it. I just wanted to rattle them out as quickly as possible. He was like, “No, no, no. We need to hash this out. These are not to be thrown away. These aren’t b-sides and you need to make a record out of this.” It was friendly advice that I took and in the end I think he was right. I think it was just me being scared or uncertain of what would come of it. Once the ball got rolling and I got all the players in place, Pete wanted to make it in Asbury Park, but I wasn’t sure if we could get the drum sounds that I was after there. So, I called Brian McTernan, who made Keep Your Heart with The Loved Ones, he’s made countless great records. I asked him if he had any time and how much he’d charge me. He literally set us up in his studio for four days, engineered the room so that we could play any instrument we wanted, and pretty much gave us lay of the land to do whatever. He was there in the morning and in the evening, and he didn’t charge me a dime. It was insane. I’m still kind of flabbergasted that he was willing to do that. It was just terrific to get an enormous amount of work done in his studio and then take the rest of it back to Asbury Park, where Pete and I just hammered away at it. We pulled my sister in to do keys, and we did different overdubs there, but by and large the beating heart of the record was made down in Baltimore, in a four day span. Then we did all of our overdubs later. Stephen just came to the table with Paper + Plastick, when Vinnie, (label owner Vinnie Fiorello) wanted to put the record out. We came to an agreement that that’s his mastering guy, and I certainly wouldn’t argue with that. I’m a fan and have been for a long time. The ironic thing is that it’s not a punk record, so to speak, but these two punk luminaries, these legendary punk guitarists produced and mastered it. It’s just kind of funny how that worked out.

Bill – The first song, “Time Will Tell,” is somewhat representative of the record as a whole in that it’s reflective and mentions the past, but it also maintains a sense of hope and speaks of new beginnings. What were some of your inspirations when writing these lyrics?

Dave – I was out on the road, The Loved Ones were opening for The Hold Steady, and we were in a van accident. One of the wheels fell off our truck and we were going 75 miles per hour. We had been on tour quite a bit that year and I was just reflecting on what was going on. It was just like me trying to write my dark and guilty version of “Thunder Road” or something. I didn’t have the chorus, I thought it was just going to be those verses and then that finale and that would be it. Then it would liftoff into like a traditional song. I eventually came up with the chorus and it kind of ties the whole idea together. That’s pretty much how the song came about.

Bill – The title track has a line in it that goes, “the more we work the less we make,” which kind of stands out given the condition of America’s economy. It’s like those fortunate enough to have jobs right now are either underemployed or aren’t happy with what they do, and after a while that takes a toll. What motivated you to write those words?

Dave – I had a business with a partner that I was running, a contracting business. It was remodeling, construction and commercial work, and it basically funded my ability to go out on tour. He was a carpenter and I would do stuff from the road, and when I was home I would work onsite and stuff. It was one of those things, like being a small business owner gave me a very different perspective than I would have if I was just running around in a punk rock band. You realize how the squeeze comes down. Being a small business owner, we would work our asses off and it just seemed like so much of it went out the window to overhead and taxes. It’s funny to see the Republicans sort of argue their point, and there are so many guys that are small business owners and contractors that vote Republican, which is so bizarre to me. They’re basically voting for what they would like their business to be, but it never will be that. You’re never going to have a roofing business that’s going to make millions and millions of dollars, at which point those tax breaks would come into play. I’m getting off on a tangent, but the point is that it’s just in every aspect. Being in a band is a small business and so was running my construction business, and that’s how I felt. The more I busted my ass and got over a certain amount, the more it just vanished and the more hands were out. I just think a lot of those promises that got made to us as kids, especially if you’re in your thirties now, you can see how many of those promises were broken or never really made any sense in the first place.

Bill – “Years from Now” talks about growing up and finding your way. What’s behind its lyrics?

Dave – It’s essentially just a love letter to my nieces and nephews. A bunch of my friends and my sisters have had kids in the last couple years. As much as that’s a joyful thing and something that I cherish and my life is richer for it, it also is anxiety-making to have these little people that something bad could happen to at any point. It’s another thing with me being gone all the time that I’m like, “Oh man, I hope such-and-such is alright or I hope they come out alright.” It was just a song that I wrote for them, the idea that you might laugh at this when you’re older. It might seem hokey or cheesy, but I want you to know that these are the things I feel like maybe you could learn from if anything. I don’t know. As a 33-year-old guy, here’s what I learned coming up and maybe it could be of use in this song.

Bill – Each of your songs definitely tells a story with its words. Who are some singer/songwriters that have inspired you?

Dave – Well, they’re sort of the old standbys that everyone would cite, from The Clash to The Beatles, Elton John and Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, all those kind of guys. I’m always trying to listen for new writers and there’s a band called Dawes that’s terrific. Todd Snider I’ve been into quite a bit lately. Loudon Wainwright, I sort of started to mine his catalog. Jenny Lewis, Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket, there’s so many people out there that I listen to. I try to always keep my ear to the ground, but that would be my shortlist of songwriters that inspire what I do. Patty Griffin is a huge cornerstone of what I love and cherish about music. She’s like a beacon of light.

Bill – You’ve made music videos for two of the songs off your album, “Time Will Tell” and “C’mon Kid.” What do you enjoy most about making videos?

Dave – The “Time Will Tell” video I just love, because I’m a huge fan of Martin Scorsese and just ‘70s filmmaking in general. His student film was called The Big Shave, so we did a shot for shot kind of homage to that. That was the concept behind it. To have a Wikipedia entry that references Martin Scorsese’s student film and my video is mind-blowing. I don’t know how to work Wikipedia; I just went on there and was like, “Whoa! There’s conceivably a chance Martin Scorsese might see this or know about it or something.” That was really fun to make. We made it in an afternoon and it cost next to nothing. We did it with a camera in three hours and some fake blood and that was that. “C’mon Kid” was fun too because I was in a video for a Gaslight Anthem song and the director and I got along really well. He was turned on to my music and wanted to make a video for me. I told him that the budget would be significantly different than the Gaslight Anthem one, but he had no problem with that and he came up with a concept. I liked it and we went with it. It’s fun to make videos, you get to kind of play actor for a day. Every musician secretly wants to be an actor, or a lot of us do, and you get to kind of play a role for a day and then go back to your normal life. I grew up in the age of MTV, so music videos are probably more important to me than they should be. I don’t think they yield as much fruit as they used to, but I think it’s cool to have a visual telling of a song if it’s a good idea. I feel like both videos are pretty interesting visually and they were definitely fun to make.

Bill – Earlier this year you played several shows with Tommy Stinson, who of course played bass in The Replacements, and is the current bassist for both Guns N’ Roses and Soul Asylum. What were those shows like?

Dave – They were really mellow. I happen to know his manager, who was out with him, so it made the transition really cool. He introduced us, so it was less like me meeting a hero and more like meeting a mutual friend. He’s absolutely a hero though and The Replacements are a cornerstone for me in terms of songwriting. I should have listed Paul Westerberg a couple questions ago. He was super laidback, he was gracious and we had a lot of fun together in a three-day span. A perfect example is we were in Minneapolis and the next show was in Chicago and I didn’t have any travel plans to get to Chicago the next day. He told me that he got a flight for $65 and invited me to come with him and his wife. He didn’t have to do that. He just was really cool and supportive, and ended up asking me to do another show in Pennsylvania later. I’m sure we’ll do stuff in the future. He’s a true-blue, songwriting, rock ‘n roll guy, and part of two legendary bands. It was an honor to play with him, but it’s an honor to play with any of these guys. I’ve gotten to play with lots and lots of people that I’m honored to share the stage with.

Bill – What do you have planned for the rest of the year in terms of touring?

Dave – I go directly tomorrow to England to start The Revival Tour with Dan Andriano, Chuck Ragan and Brian Fallon, which will be a blast. The shows are enormous and more than half of them are already sold-out. It’s a big to-do I guess over there. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a collaborative event, playing each other’s songs and doing covers too. It’s just going to be music and friendship all day. I can’t wait; it’s going to be so fun. Then there’s talk of doing a tour in November that I can’t really mention because I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but that would be overseas as well. Then I’m doing a co-headlining tour with Cory Branan. We’re coming through Chicago in December. It starts in Philly, loops through the Midwest and ends in Memphis right before Christmas. Then I’m going to take some time off. We’re going to make a new Loved Ones record and I’ll probably make another solo record. I’ll spend some time during the winter at home, with my family, and then ramp it back up in the spring.

Bill – What can fans expect to come first, a new Loved Ones album or more solo material?

Dave – The next Loved Ones album, that’s what I’m shooting for. I’d like to see that come out in the springtime. We’ll see what happens, but that’s the current plan.