Interview: Dave Hause discusses moving away from Philly and touring with family
Any regular Key reader or XPN listener is familiar with Dave Hause. The Philadelphia native and Loved Ones frontman turned solo artist has been a much beloved fixture of The Key, and rightfully so. Hause pretty much embodies the spirit of the local scene, even if he now finds solace in residing on the opposite coast (we’ll forgive him). And if his seemingly never-ending slew of tour dates and side projects popping up implies anything, it’s that he’s not planning on slowing down any time soon. His sophomore album Devour is painful, and beautifully so. A retrospective and heart-wrenching record, it is arguably one of the most raw things Hause has written, including his more punk-centric back catalog. I had the chance to chat with him about moving on after Devour, working with family, and his migration west. You can read the full interview below.
The Key: So this is the last leg of your Devour tour, which has been going on since January…There must be a sense of relief to finally be wrapping up this tour, but also some I don’t know, apprehension? Not sure if that is the right word.
Dave Hause: Yeah, I’m excited to close that chapter. A lot has happened since that record was written. I’m definitely in a much different place, geographically as well as emotionally. I’m looking forward to making a new record and figuring out what is next. There is certainly some level of like “okay, this is what it is. This is where we landed after making that record and touring it.” And sort of taking that inventory and determining what the goals we had were, the ones we reached, the ones we fell short on, and how to move forward. It’s part of the trick on how to keep you together while doing this work.
TK: As you just touched on, you recently moved from Philadelphia to California, but you still manage to find your way back east quite a bit. We all know that there have been countless think-pieces written on how great the music scene is over here, do they hold true?
DH: Yeah, it’s been kind of exciting to watch Philadelphia blossom as the mecca of rock and roll, punk rock, and indie-rock, and all these genres that people put on music. It’s been awesome to watch and I feel like as a Philadelphia native I’ve watched a lot of the infrastructure of the city develop to make it a place where that can be in 2015. R5 Productions was starting out when I was a teenager and starting my first band. I watched it grow and change. I watched the city get to be a lot better place. To some degree I feel that I moved at the wrong time. It’s a little bitter-sweet to see such a massive transformation and not be there for it. It’s my city. I grew up there, and sweat and bleed into the scene. Even sometimes just to see transplants come to Philly and get a little bit of that love is like “Man, what the hell”, you know? But I think emotionally, and just the place that I’m at in life, I needed a break from the grind of the east coast and I think a lot of my peers had moved on past music and were into having kids and doing more traditionally acceptable things with their lives. I’ve always had a real romantic view of California, and so moving out there was a bucket list thing. It’s been a really wonderful thing to do, and has provided a new way to view the world. I’ll always consider myself a Philadelphian, but my goal is to be a bi-coastal person. But right now, California’s expensive and so I do spend a lot of time visiting back east. I’m in Philly like six times a year regardless of where I live. It’s always going to be my home in my heart.
(Below: Watch Hause cover “Walkin’ On The Water” by Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers with the In The Pocket Songs of Philly project)
TK: Rocky Votolato is accompanying you on this part of the tour, and you guys both were on the Revival tour several years ago. Both of you have put out new albums and have definitely grown as artists. What is it like to be back on the road since then?
DH: It’s interesting. He does the singer-songwriter thing in a much more traditional sense. In fact, he seems to be a guy who would be on XPN to me. He approaches things much more in that line of thinking, and I come from, like it or not, from the punk scene. I bring a much different energy to that style. I love singer-songwriters and I love the XPN aesthetic if you will, and I think he keeps with that a little more. I formed by musical vocabularies as a punk rocker. So it’s an interesting mix and I think he’s a wonderful guy. He’s done a lot more solo work than I have, and I’ve only done two records. It’s an honor to be able to have a co-headlining tour with such an accomplished artist. There’s a lot to learn from him. He has a much more zen and enlightened philosophy on life and there’s a little bit more anger in what I’m doing. Hopefully his beautiful influence will sand some of those harder edges off of my personality. He and I have been going great together. I think people like both of our songs and we have Chris Farren out with us who is a wonderful guy and is blossoming as a solo artist. He brings a great sense of humor and a cool aesthetic to what’s going on. He’s also a great lyricist. It’s exciting to watch people get turned on to what he’s doing especially in light of the fact that he hasn’t even made a record yet.
TK: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. And it definitely seems like you and Rocky balance each other out.
DH: I think so. We’re all actually doing this tour sober. My brother Tim has been playing with me and in Philly we’re doing a full band show, but we’re all doing the show without booze. It’s been an interesting trip and really a lot of fun. Just good, old fashioned, clean fun.
TK: And you began the tour with your younger brother, who had never been on the road before, and then to be part of a headlining band….
DH: Yeah, it was certainly baptism by fire. He came on last year. He had never played a show. And his first show was a sold out Asbury Lanes show where he was thrown right into the mix. It didn’t take too long for him to take to it and be excellent at it. It probably took him about a week to figure it out. Honestly, in terms of career choices, going solo has brought me an incredible amount of freedom, joy, and a renewed sense of purpose in terms of making music. And behind that, the second most wonderful choice I’ve made as a musician have been to bring my brother out and tour with him. It’s been such a wonderful way to bridge the 15 year gap between us and to bring the family together. Sonically, we have similar voices because we come from the same two people. I can just look at him on stage and he’ll know what we’re doing and to just have that vocabulary is pretty tremendous. It’s very exciting. We’ve gone through a long year and a half of touring. His friend Shane Montgomery was missing for a while and was found in the Schuylkill. We’ve gone through quite a lot during the tour, him more so than me. But to have music as our bedrock, and our shared experience has brought a lot of healing to him and it’s just been great to have a novelty, and to see the world through his eyes. To have my younger brother say “come on, can we go see a bald eagle? And a GM tower” or this or that and I’m more like “I just want to stay in a hotel and be on the internet”. He got me going again. It’s that fever of youth that permeates. It’s been so rad to have him along for the ride. I’m holding onto him as tight as I can because once he starts writing songs I’ll be playing guitar for him.
TK: So you just mentioned the Lanes, and the video for “We Could Be Kings” was shot at Asbury Lanes, which is honestly one of the most “New Jersey” venues I can think of, and it definitely holds a lot of nostalgia, at least to me. But what made you decide to do it there?
DH: The Lanes is a second home. The Bouncing Souls are dear friends of mine and I worked for them. In fact, when I was leaving Philly, Asbury Park and the surrounding area was really high on the list of places where I thought I might live. I mean, it’s a second family. When I come back for the holidays, I see my sisters, my dad, my friends from Philly, and then I always visit Asbury to see Kate and the Souls. It’s been many years of musical collaboration and lots of fun. They’re wonderful people and the Lanes has always been a great place to play for The Loved Ones, and then for me solo. It just seemed like the right place to have that video shot. We had a really good time that day making that video.
TK: The line “the vampire squid sucks me dry” in the song “Autism Vaccine Blues” has to be one of the best lines I have heard. Are there several artists you really look to for lyrical inspiration?
DH: Yeah, that lyric comes from Matt Taibbi – who is a writer, who writes mostly socio-political articles. He chronicled the entire economic crash and took on Golden Sachs, and all of those crooked people that took down the economy and got away with it. He chronicled it for Rolling Stone for many months, and he compared Golden Sachs to a vampire squid that comes on and sucks everything dry. That line is not only a nod to him, but that song is about modern anxiety and I think a lot of people felt in 2008 like that. There’s this corporate, gross, endless thirst of a machine that can leave you dry and take all your money and your dignity. Taibbi is a fearless journalist and is much more brave than most songwriters I know.
TK: The first time I listened to the song “Before”, I was almost in tears. How has it been to hear people scream back the words that are so deeply personal to you, and know that it resonates with them too, for maybe completely different reasons?
DH: That song isn’t played too often on purpose. It’s a painful kind of place to go back to sometimes. I think that will be the trick with this next record, to make a positive album without it being perceived as cheesy. That song is a rough one, but it certainly was cathartic to make and record in the studio, and I play it live sometimes. I think anytime that people connect with the lyrics that you write in the sense that you’re going for, it’s kind of a lifetime experience. Especially getting to experience that all over the world. It’s crazy going to Cleveland, let alone Sydney, Australia or the crazy support in Europe, and having people sing that song back to you. It kind of leaves you to sort of triumph over that initial beat that you had to go through to get to that song. It’s a trip for sure.
TK: I’d hate the leave the interview off on such a negative question. Anything else you’d like to add?
DH: Well, the Union Transfer show is Wednesday, and it’s quite possibly the last time I will be playing there for a while. It will be full band, and a true home-coming vibe.
Dave Hause plays Union Transfer tonight; tickets and more info on the show can be found here. He’ll also be on the air on WXPN with Dan Reed at 6 p.m. for Dan’s “Copy That” feature where he’ll play a cover song.