Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Interview: Matt Chrystal Chats with Dave Hause

Photo courtesy of Dave Hause

Bury Me in Philly

by Matt Chrystal

Dave Hause, hardcore frontman turned punk rock troubadour, continues to rebel and rage against injustice on Bury Me in Philly, his third solo record which is due on February 3rd.

Mr. Hause also does not hold back in this candid and honest interview where he discusses the making of the album, putting his band -- The Mermaid -- together for touring, as well as his thoughts on the loss of his pal, Dave Franklin, and his hopes for the future to avoid the "certain disaster" that is a Trump presidency. He also goes in depth about his love for the Garden State and how the loss of Asbury Lanes quite literally led him to The Crossroads of New Jersey.

CoolMattyC: Your new album, Bury Me In Philly, is the follow up to 2013's Devour, and it was produced by your childhood hero, Eric Bazilian, of the Hooters along with William Wittman, who has recorded with the likes of Mick Jagger. Can you talk about the making of this album and what it was like working with this team?

Dave Hause: It was really great, but the process leading up to working with those guys was actually pretty excruciating. I had written almost 40 songs and the people I was working with prior to Eric and William, well, I just don't think they were seeing what I was seeing.

I was not able to commit to what I wanted this record to be until started to get my brother involved in the spring of 2015. We hit the ground running and formulated what was to be Bury Me in Philly, but the producer at that time still just was not feeling it. I almost started to panic and was like, "Hey, did I lose my mojo or something?"

Then I took the songs to Eric, who I had become friends with thanks to a DJ who hooked us up when she heard that The Hooters were the first band that I ever saw. I showed him what I had and he said, "Whoa. I love this. Let's make a record here in Philly." And so, after all that waiting and reconsidering that I had been doing, it was just like the pedal went down and we accelerated and within a few months we were done. We worked quickly because he believed in the songs and was hearing what I was hearing in the demos. We worked quickly and easily. It was really joyful. It went from being a big struggle to pure joy. So this was a similar story to the making of my last record where out of heartache, tragedy, and sadness comes joy.

Eric and William are both phenomenal players with great musical brains. There is proof in their musical ability from Joan Osborne to Cyndi Lauper to The Hooters to Mick Jagger. They definitely just know what they are doing.

CMC: You are well-known for playing with The Loved Ones, the band you formed in 2004 and have toured off and on with over the years including a 2016 reunion tour. This upcoming tour in support of your new album has you backed by The Mermaid. Can you clue us into how this band came about and how this experience compares to playing with other bands you have played with?

DH: The Mermaid is a band that is built for touring, but they did not play on the album. David Hidalgo Jr. from Social Distortion plays the drums on this record. He is a super talented guy, but he is super busy; so it is hard to get him to get out and play with me as his time is always divided up by other projects.

The Mermaid is a group of handpicked players that I sorta knew, then tried out and am now really excited about playing with them. We start rehearsals next week for the tour and I'm excited. This all really came together around me playing with my brother. He has become my musical soulmate. He is quite a bit younger than me; and, one day, he started to really just get how to perform; and he came out on tour with me; and we really started to click. So we started writing together for this album, and that was really great. So the idea for the band was kind of built around the idea of playing with him.

My friend, Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem, suggested that I play these songs with a band, but I kept saying that all the guys I wanted to tour with were just too expensive. A lot of the great players I know and like are in big bands, and I'm here just really trying to grow and get my name out. This is only my third record. Brian told me to find young, talented, hungry people that can grow with me. And that turned out to be really good advice. So far, The Mermaid is all in for the cause and excited about everything. This has been like building a rocket ship that I get to steer.

CMC: Your record release tour features sold-out shows in Philly, Boston, and New Jersey. The New Jersey appearance has you playing The Crossroads in Garwood, which has had a resurgence in popularity with recent high profile runs by Brian Fallon and The Bronx / Mariachi El Bronx. How did this show come about?

DH: There's a bit of a vacuum in New Jersey ever since Asbury Lanes closed. The Lanes is where I played my previous two record release shows. The Lanes has been under construction; so, again, that led to a vacuum as to where do I go to play shows in Jersey.

Andy Diamond, who promoted shows at Court Tavern, had been doing shows at The Crossroads and has asked me for a while to play there. I play in another band, The Falcon; and we toured quite a bit last year too. We did a show at Crossroads, and I liked the venue and liked the vibe. So, Andy asked me to do my record release show there; and I agreed. It sold out pretty quick, and I am really excited to get back to Jersey. New Jersey is like a second home to me, and you will actually be seeing a lot of me in the state this year. After Philly, Jersey is at the top of my list of favorite places.

I feel fortunate to be a part of that NJ family. That I have found acceptance and an audience in NJ through The Bouncing Souls and through Gaslight Anthem has just been really cool.

CMC: You mentioned Asbury Lanes, which closed for "renovations" in 2015. You were a favorite there, and it just seems odd not to see The Lanes listed on your tour poster this time around.  Can you share any favorite memories from time spent at The Lanes?

DH: The Loved Ones were recording in a studio down the street from there. One night we just walked down and asked the local band that was playing if we could borrow their instruments; and we played one of the most drunken and terribly performed but super fun shows in our band's history. It was really cool; and we played to like, maybe, fifteen people that were just like, "Whoa, what are you guys doing?!"

Most of my other favorite memories of the Lanes just involve me just hanging out there. It is such a great community, and there were always just so many people that we knew there. Everyone there has always been so kind to me and to the various bands that I have been in.

Asbury Lanes had such as special thing going, and I hope they can preserve that. It was a magical place, and I hope they do not take those ghosts completely out of there. They just need to fix that roof.

Dave Hause with The Loved Ones at Asbury Lanes in 2015.
CMC: Speaking of Asbury Park and memories… I wanted to add that I am sorry to hear about the passing of Dave Franklin of the band Vision. I read your post on social media that he was not only a friend of yours but that he was also a positive influence on your career.

DH: He was a great, great guy. When I was a kid, he was like the symbol of New Jersey punk rock. I was a young, dumb hardcore kid in my first band; and his band, Vision, was a big deal at the time in the late 90s. Dave was just super cool and was good to us. We met him, and maybe he saw that we had a little bit of talent; and he would come and play our little cruddy shows that we put together in various neighborhoods. It was always really encouraging and positive. And as I progressed through my adult life and worked with Sick Of It All and the Bouncing Souls, he was just always around. Everyone knew him and everyone loved him. He and I became pretty big party pals for many, many years. It got scary. I've got most of that partying in my rearview now. But not everyone puts partying like that in the rearview; and, as you get older, it gets more and more dangerous. It has been a tough thing to come to grips with that the dude is gone. He was just such a giant glowing pink light of loud insanity that will certainly be missed.

CMC: I didn’t know him personally, but from what I have heard from the many that did, they all expressed similar sentiments about his being a positive force in the community.

DH: He really was that. I got a text from him recently congratulating me on the new album and my move to California. He was just that guy that always knew what was going on, and he had a good heart. It's a rough loss for the Bouncing Souls-New Jersey family.

CMC: Speaking of camaraderie amongst fellow musicians and bandmates as extended family... The Vapers will be one of the opening acts for that NJ show we talked about at The Crossroads. That band includes David Walsh, who played with you in The Loved Ones, which makes this another reunion of sorts. And the other opener will be Jared Hart of the Scandals. His career has mirrored your own as you both fronted hardcore bands before going solo as mostly acoustic punk rock troubadours. Can you share your thoughts on playing with those guys?

DH: I love both those guys! It's great to have Jared be part of the family. He has been doing some great work and has proven himself for many years, and it's cool to have him on the bill.

Dave Walsh is one of my favorite songwriters. The Vapers have a lot of high concepts and fine arts that they have infused into a straight-up punk rock band. I think we will be hearing a lot from The Vapers.

It was really important to me to have them on these East Coast shows because I truly believe in Dave as a songwriter and believe in them as a band.

Jared Hart at Russo Music in Asbury Park in 2015.
CMC: You are a relentless road warrior. Somewhere in between a Loved Ones reunion tour and planning a record release tour in the States that will head off to Europe this summer, you found time to do a few stops with Bad Religion and Against Me! What were your take-aways from working with those bands?

DH: Bad Religion and Against Me! are lifer bands who have been successfully doing this for a really long time; and so, to be out on tour and see them every night, I couldn't help but learn a lot from them. It was a great tour, and I was honored to be part of it. It was a big election year, and part of it was trying to get people out and get them to vote.

I think that, if anything, a tour like that just strengthens my resolve to keep going.  Both of those bands are where they are because they kept at it. I have only made three solo records. Sure, there has been stuff I did before; and, yeah, that helps a little; but this has basically been like starting over for me when I made my first solo record. Just seeing that, if you keep going, you can truly get to a place that is great. That is my goal with The Mermaid: To make that my band and see where it goes and work hard at it. I'm excited to play my songs with this band behind me for years to come.

CMC: You were vocal about encouraging people to get out and vote, and you have also been quite vocal about feeling disheartened with the rise of Donald Trump. Now that some time has passed from the results of the election, and with the inauguration looming over everything this week, what are your thoughts on what's currently going on, and what are your hopes for the future?

DH: My hope for the future is that this was a blip on the radar and that this was the death-rattle for closed-minded, fear-mongering, white-privileged bullshit. That this is what happens when you kill a snake or a predator, and they have one last lash in them. I do not think Trump represents the America that I know or the America that so many of my travels has shown me. It is not normal to me. The stuff he says about women and minorities is never going to be ok for me. There is just a lack of dignity and grace. He is a petulant, overgrown child who only knows privilege; and that is so far away from what I admire and respect in a human being. It seems like a lot of ego, a lot of bluster, and a lot of bullshit.

Coming from the East Coast, I know that he is the guy that ripped off contractors. He left people holding the bag, and he put his name on things that were not his. It is just really crazy to me to think that he is the face that I will see when I come home from my European tour and walk through customs. It's hard to grapple with and to stomach, especially after seeing Obama leaving the White House after eight years of hard work, dedication, and dignity. I am not looking forward to it.

But, with all that being said, we have to go on with our lives. We have to keep going to work, keep making art, keep loving our kids and our sisters and brothers and family. That is what I am going to do. But I also think it is important to be vigilant, to remain vocal, and to re-engage with what democracy is left in this country. That is the goal now. We have to watch this ship, man!

As a punk rocker, I don't really trust any administration fully; but this one is the biggest rat I have ever seen. Donald Trump is a dirty motherfucker who will do you wrong and put himself ahead every time. We have got to get him out of there as quickly as we can to avoid certain disaster.

You will hear a lot from me in the coming years. I have my little bully pulpit and I am going to use it! Career be damned!

CMC: Thanks for your time and your candor. Good luck with the tour, and I hope you get to enjoy a nice long nap when you finally take a break after the European leg of the tour.

DH: I love doing it, man. It's exhausting in a good way. I love playing music. I love loading in. I love unpacking my guitar and knowing I am getting to play for people who paid to see me. I will never be too tired to lose sight of that.

The album Bury Me In Philly will be available February 3rd via Rise Records.

Dave Hause and The Mermaid will perform at Boot & Saddle in Philly on February 22nd, at Berlin in NYC on February 23rd, and at The Crossroads in Garwood, NJ on Feb. 25th

For more info, check out DaveHause.com.

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