Dave Hause


Earlier this year, Dave Hause released his third solo full-length, titled Bury Me In Philly. We caught up with Dave while he was on a recent break from tour and talked about some of what motivated the album’s creation. We also discussed the record’s style, which merges Americana and folk influences with punk-leaning rock and introspective, often uplifting lyrics. In short, these are some of the most detailed and emotional songs that Hause has written to date. Additionally, we spoke about his new backing band, the Mermaid, their upcoming European tour and Hause’s plans for new music.

Bill – At what point did you begin writing songs for Bury Me In Philly? Your previous album, Devour, was fairly thematic and dealt with a lot of serious subject matter, so what inspired you to start writing after that record?

Dave – Well, the first piece of the puzzle came in the summer of 2014, I put together the title track. I didn’t know it was the title track and that song didn’t even the refrain, it just had the verses. Some of the best stuff I’ve come up with starts with verses that don’t go to a refrain, like I say all the stuff I want to say and forget about the chorus. That happened with “Time Will Tell” back in the day. “Bury Me In Philly” was like that and I had a few collaborators at different points tell me, “You gotta lean on that ‘bury me’ thing and make some more out of that.” So, basically we did that, but that was the seed and I didn’t know how it was going to fit in with a new batch of songs. It kind of summed up everything with where I was at, like having moved and having fallen back in love. The Devour songs were finished a long time before the record came out. That’s the problem with these waits, it’s like by the time the record comes out you’re already emotionally probably pretty far past that moment in time. So, that was the beginning of it and it just took a while to keep putting material together. Looking back, I probably was ready a lot sooner than we actually recorded. I lost a year doing Falcon stuff and I lost probably another year to being uncertain about when and where to push forward. But all along, those songs and most of their skeletal framework were coming over the wire between 2014 and 2015. There were snippets and stuff, but really what turned the key on it all was in the summer of 2015, buckling down with my brother and sharing all the songs with him. And just saying, “Hey, like is there something here?” and he was like “Yeah, this is your next record. It makes a lot of sense to me.” I stopped drinking right around then and sort of redoubled my efforts to get to this third solo record that was eluding me.

Once he got involved, it started to move pretty quickly. We finished up a lot of the writing via FaceTime last summer, like all the finishing touches, any missing lyrics and arrangements and things. By the time we brought them to Eric (Bazilian) and Bill (Wittman), who produced it, most of the work was done. They added an enormous amount of insight and choices that were more specific, but most of the stuff was done by the time we brought it to them. It was a lot of picking at it, which is interesting. In the process of all that, there were just tons and tons of songs that got written that are just lying around. We’ll see where all that leads me. I’m not sure if that stuff will just come out on like a mixtape or if it’ll come out never…

Bill – Maybe a 7-inch here or there…

Dave – Well, it would be a lot of 7-inches. There’s probably close to 40 songs, so it would be a lot of 7-inches. I guess the decision-making process now is do you put out these strange offspring that came throughout that whole long process? Because I write all kinds of different songs as I go and maybe some might be better coming out later. It seems like some of my heroes for instance, they shelve a lot of stuff and put it out later, but that sort of was the Petty and Springsteen model. I’m not sure if it applies as much now. I’ve been seeing a lot of hip-hop artists; they’ll just put stuff out. I wonder if that would sort of be a better approach.

Bill – It might be…

Dave – We’ll see. That’s a long answer, man. Sorry…

Bill – That’s quite alright. I just wanted to ask though in terms of the style of this album, because I feel like all three of the solo records are pretty different. The first one is more acoustic, Devour is a little more punk influenced and the new one embraces folk and Americana. What specifically influenced the sound of this album?

Dave – I think I wanted to make a record that sounded more upbeat and happier than Devour was. So, I turned to a lot of influences probably from my childhood. A lot of that stuff was The Hooters and that’s why it was such a great fit to have Eric, (Hooters frontman Eric Bazilian) produce it. Stuff like Bryan Adams and Cyndi Lauper and stuff like that; there were definitely ‘80s influences that we turned to. But we didn’t want to make it obvious, so I think those things are textural. And that’s where Bill and Eric, that’s what I was kind of talking about earlier with their influence. They’re able to do that with a lot of style and grace and not make it sound dated. So that was a big part of it. It’s funny you say that, because some people think this record is more punk influenced than the last. Everybody hears something different and I guess it depends on what songs you hear first and what songs you gravitate most towards. My influences are just cumulative and there’s lots of new stuff always coming at me. I think over time…I might be coming to this realization as we speak, but maybe it would make sense to have more music coming out, because you’d see how many of the influences are going on at any given time. It wouldn’t sound as big of a switch between albums if there was more music in between. I don’t know. It’s always like the big ones are all the same and have been there forever: the Dylans, the Springsteens, The Misfits, The Clash and all that stuff. If I get fixated on certain realms, then some of that starts to come out. I’ve been listening to a lot of Motown and soul music, so who knows if that’ll make its way into a batch that’s coming. I don’t know. We’ll see.

Bill – You touched on this briefly before, but your brother Tim played guitar and sang backing vocals on this record. What was the best part about collaborating with him?

Dave – The writing process leading up to that was the best part. It’s just so cool to have someone that young who has an opinion that’s not clouded by the politics of punk rock guilt. He’s got his bands that he likes that are punk rock or whatever, but he wasn’t raised in the scene. Because he’s my brother, Bouncing Souls and Hot Water Music and stuff like that, those were guys that he knew as a kid. So, his perspective on all of it is a little different. He didn’t have to go through that awkward phase as a teenager where no one was kind of listening to your music. In addition, the rules or the punk rock police sort of never showed up at his door. So he had a very fresh, fierce perspective on what we could do. He’s a believer. That’s really helpful in the creative process, that ferocity, the lack of doubt. Yeah, it’s been great. The difference in years between us just goes right away. That’s the great equalizer. If you’re approaching music as a novice, then we’re both novices despite our years. He’ll rattle off a lyric or an idea that’s brilliant, despite the fact that there’s 15 years between us. It doesn’t even register at that point. We’re just working on the project together. It’s really joyful. To me, it’s like the second best decision I’ve made in my musical journey. The first was to go out on my own and the second was to bring him into that journey with me. It’s really cool, man. It’s been one of the great blessings of my adult life.

Bill – That is really cool. I wanted to ask about the first song on Bury Me In Philly, “With You.” It fittingly feels like somewhat of a request or an invitation. Was that your intention when you wrote this song?

Dave – Yeah, I knew that was going to open the record, or I knew it was going to open a record. I mean even now, as we’re talking, I’ve got a bunch of songs and a bunch of different projects that aren’t fully formed in my mind. And what often happens is when it’s time to make an album, suddenly a lot of my thoughts about what was going to go where go out the window. I thought “With You” was going to open a new Loved Ones record. I keep flirting with that idea. Devour was supposed to be the third record for that band. In 2015, The Loved Ones played Groezrock, that giant festival in Europe, and we all got fired up and talked about making an album. Nothing really came of it; it was sort of just the post-coital bliss of long lost lovers or something, (laughs). When I played the song for Tim I was like, “this is this Loved Ones idea.” He was like, “What? What are you doing with The Loved Ones? I didn’t know about this.” I think it’s become more and more abundantly clear that the lane I’m working in is the lane I want to be working in. That chapter of my life is over, especially after the Keep Your Heart reunion shows. We kind of did what we set out to do and there’s not a whole lot left to do there. If I’m going to do anything like that, I’m more interested in synthesizing it with the Mermaid, the supporting band that we’ve put together. Ultimately, that song, Tim was like, “That’s for this record. That’s gotta go on this record. This is all of what you’ve been living. It’s an invitation to your audience to come back after a long wait. You could sing this just as much to a European festival audience as you could to your girlfriend, so let’s do it.” And that was really freeing. I was like, “Yeah, you’re right. Let’s just go with the bird in hand.” He suggested that it should be the first song and once that became clear, it clicked a lot of things into focus. Then you’re sort of like, “Well, then I have that ‘Bury Me’ song and then this song and ‘The Flinch’ too.” Suddenly it was apparent that we had the framework of the third album and it all sort of got moving from there.

Bill – So that was the first song on the record, but the last song is the title track and usually artists don’t place the title track at the end of the record. What made you want to do that?

Dave – It’s a summation as much as that could kick off the record. There was no way that it could supplant “With You.” That would have been the only other spot for it in my mind. Maybe you open side two with that, but how many people are listening to it via vinyl? Sequencing does actually come into play when you start to think about the audience and how they’re processing it. It’s tricky business because you don’t want to have that cloud or vision too much. You want to think about it more like how do I want them to perceive the information, rather than what’s going to hook them and keep them. That’s dangerous territory. Then you end up with a frontloaded album and no good songs on the second half. I think it seemed to be the final thought that I wanted to leave people with. You know, I don’t live there anymore, but that’s where my home heart is and we’ll see what happens.

Bill – Tell me about the formation of the Mermaid and your motivations for starting this backing band.

Dave – That was the other working title for the record. I knew that the song “The Mermaid” was a little bit of an oddball, but it’s ended up being a really fun song to have in the set that people have really responded to. But it was a little risky. Not only that, but I don’t know if that title summed up the whole journey. Eric really lobbied at the end for that not to be the title. He recommended calling the band that instead, so ultimately we went with that.

As far as the personnel, Tim is the keystone there. He’s my partner in crime, musical soul mate kind of thing. Kevin Conroy was suggested to me by his uncle. I’ve known Kevin for a long time, since he was a little kid. I went to see Green Day back in the day and he was this 15-year-old kid. He actually got invited up to play the Operation Ivy song “Knowledge” with Green Day at the show. Flash forward and that little kid is in his late 20’s and I was finding myself in need of a drummer for this band. So I locked him in and then Kayleigh Goldsworthy I met on the Revival Tour. She’s a great songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. After the Revival Tour she released her solo record and then ended up playing with a pop band. We kept crossing paths and she was playing for them and it became clear that situation was going to come to an end. I told her that if she was interested in doing multi-instrumentalist kind of stuff that I would love to have her play in the Mermaid. Surprisingly enough, she decided to leave Nashville and come out on the road with us.

And then the missing piece to the puzzle was bass. I had asked Spider, (Michael Cotterman) from The Loved Ones to do it, but he’s got a great day job. And I asked Neil from The Lawrence Arms and The Falcon and he just had too much stuff going on. So I was a little bit at a loss and then we did a tour with Bad Religion, just Tim and I. Jay Bentley, (Bad Religion bassist) we really got on well with him. He’s a big believer in the music I make and what Tim and I do in terms of the live show, which is incredible. He was a huge advocate on the tour and he’d come play “Dirty Fucker” with us before it was even out, and then “We Could Be Kings” at the end of every show with us. Towards the end of the tour, he asked me if I was putting together a live band and if I’d try out his son. I thought it might be weird if it didn’t work out, but Jay was like “If he’s no good, don’t give him the gig.” Sure enough, his son Miles was terrific and picked everything up right away. He’s got this innate musical ability, not surprisingly, and he’s been a great addition. He’s super fun, he’s a positive dude and it’s been pretty incredible. We’ve done over 60 shows already this year. For Miles, he hadn’t played in front of anybody before and Tim had never played in a band. Tim had played with me as a duo, but it’s a whole different animal to learn your place in a band. We played these sold-out shows overseas right when the record came out and they were really able to rise to the occasion. It’s been pretty spectacular working with the Mermaid, certainly the most talented group of musicians I’ve been able to play with thus far.

Bill – What are you looking forward to in regards to your upcoming tour in Germany and the UK?

Dave – Just the fact that it’s there is enough, especially Germany. We have a really devoted and fervent following there. They just turn up in droves and really support, and that’s just incredible to have them on your side. These festivals are really big shows, so that’s exciting. It’s been a while since we got back from there in March. We hit that hard before and now we’re coming back and sort of getting back into the swing of going there often. It’s part of what I’m super jazzed on.

Bill – Have you begun to think about putting together your next album yet?

Dave – Yeah, I’ve been writing all along. Like I said before, there will either be a collection really soon of songs that have been written for a while or there’ll be this new batch that I’ve been really digging in to. It really is a burden of riches I suppose or whatever that term is. What to do next is sort of just going to be an aesthetic choice. That tap came on and it stayed on. I’ve been writing like it’s my job because thankfully it has turned into my job. That’s a really rare thing to wish when you were a little kid that you could play music as your job. I guess when you’re a little kid you want to be a rock star. For me, this is like the augmented version of that. The working-class version of that where you have an audience, people will support you and support your way of life. All you gotta do is write songs that are compelling to you and put them out. People seem to support it, so I’ve got to treat that with the utmost dignity and respect, and write accordingly. We’ll see, man. I’ve been thinking about it before we even finished Bury Me In Philly, so it’s sort of a perpetual weight on the shoulder that I’m certainly happy to have.

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Follow Dave Hause on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram