Philadelphia native Dave Hause has been recording hardcore and punk music for more than a decade now. First for the regional bands Step Ahead and The Curse, before forming the influential, if short-lived Paint It Black, and most recently with the more straight ahead punk rock band The Loved Ones.
So he’d be forgiven for wanting to try something a bit different. And his new solo record, Resolutions, is certainly a departure in style, stripped down to acoustic guitars, for the most part, and owing more to folk and even hints of classic Cash and Waylon country than to his bread and butter punk rock.
Though this new direction is not the end of The Loved Ones, it’s simply a sign that the Hause now has another outlet for his songs. Resolutions ranks right up there with Frank Turner and Chuck Ragan for both its sold lyricism and its unpretentious style.
Over lunch and a couple of beers earlier this year, Hause opened up about the solo record, the future of The Loved Ones and (almost) working with Springsteen.
He’ll be playing at Johnny Brenda’s in Philly on Dec. 6.
I’m interested in how you go about approaching your band mates with the news that you’re putting out a solo album. Was it a big deal? Did you sit everyone down?
I had mentioned it a few years ago, before we put out Build & Burn. As I was writing the songs, I started to feel like being on a punk label, playing in a punk band, I started to feel the walls sort of closing in on me creatively. I just felt like it was something early on that I wanted to do and I mentioned it. I didn’t initially get a big rousing cheer from the other two (members), when we were a three piece. I think Michael (Cotterman, former bassist) was into it and Mike (Sneeringer, drums) was more like “why would you make a solo record?” But we talked about it and then we had the lineup change and Dave (Walsh, guitar) and Chris (Gonzalez, bass) totally understood it and then, I think Mike, after some time, realized, it was ok. I just felt like when we made Build & Burn I wanted to break out of the mold of being a punk band, so we took some risks on that record and did some things that were a little beyond the punk paradigm. It didn’t necessarily translate to all of our fans. So I said maybe it would be better to take some of these ideas and make them solo and then I can run down any avenue I want and I can distill The Loved Ones back into an aggressive rock band. I still think when it’s loud and distorted and an impassioned show, sort of frantic, that’s when we’re at our best. There are moments when we can take it down a notch and can be really effective, but I didn’t want to keep trying to shoehorn all of my singer song writer influences into a band that we started as a high octane act… It’s got me a lot more excited about making the next Loved Ones record because I can paint with two different brushes.
So when you’re writing a song, do you specifically know if it’s going to be for the band or the solo record? Are any of the songs off of Resolutions ones you had originally planned for The Loved Ones?
Well I started writing what I thought was going to be another Loved Ones record and ended up with the title track of the album Resolutions – which actually could have worked as a Loved Ones’ song. The next song I wrote was “Pray For Tucson” on the album as an acoustic song with a little bit of lap steel and we actually played this as a Loved Ones’ song on a Loved Ones’ tour. I thought it was a great arrangement and sounded cool, but it just seemed like a better song to play acoustically with a sparse arrangement. And just like with “Resolutions”, I just wanted to flesh it out with organ and piano, I didn’t want to bash my way through it. I just though “Man, maybe now is the time to write the acoustic album because the songs I’m writing just don’t seem to feel like Loved Ones’ songs.” At the same time I got the idea for the next Loved Ones’ record which has a whole different theme. It’s not a concept record, but it’s definitely all attached to one theme and is a lot darker than the last Loved Ones’ record. It’s attached to our current culture in a very specific way…
The economy, just what it’s like to come out of the working class environment that I came out of. The kid’s of the 80’s and 30 years later what all the promises that were made to us now mean. It’s become this wild almost nightmare and how that affects people where I grew up. That became a real tipping point for the Loved Ones’ album and I said I’m going to separate these two things right now. But the songs came really quickly for the solo record. They were very easy, random ideas. It became a really fun thing to make, whereas this Loved Ones’ album has been a lot more difficult to write. It definitely has its place, but it’s a different place.
Is there any kind of apprehension or nervousness putting out this record, knowing that your name is up front? Do you feel any more pressure?
I actually feel less pressure. With the Loved Ones, we started that band out of our punk roots, so the expectation stylistically was there and we decided to support lots and lots of punk bands. The apprehension comes with the band. At that point you’ve got three other people, whatever road crew you decide to bring and label expectations. It’s a lot more of a team effort and the hopes that go along with that are a lot more anxiety making, than solo. Whatever I want to say and do (as a solo performer) I can do. And if I want to, stylistically go down this other avenue, there’s no one else in the band to say “I don’t think that works.” I can make those mistakes on my own or have those triumphs on my own. It’s less pressure.
You had mentioned being on Fat Wreck Chords and Jade Tree and feeling the walls closing in. Did you make a conscious decision to take this record to a different label?
Paper + Plastick isn’t really that far out of the world we’ve been living in. What happened was I recorded the record on spec so there was no label involved. I did it with my friend Pete Steinkopf (of the Bouncing Souls) and got some of my friends to play on it and ultimately didn’t spend a dime of the label’s money, barely spent my own money; we just figured we’d sell the record when it was done… I talked to some of the other labels, even some that put out big, big records by singer songwriters and I started to get the creeps after awhile because they started to say things like “How are you going to support this record and be in the Loved Ones?” At one point I said I’d rather do this with someone I trust, even if musically it’s steeped in the punk world. I feel comfortable with a guy like (P+P founder and Less Than Jake drummer) Vinnie (Fiorello). He’s not going to tell me I have to leave the Loved Ones to release this record.
Have you known him for awhile?
Yes, I’ve known him for about four years. Less Than Jake took the Loved Ones out on a tour.
I assume there’s got to be some kind of comfort level, with both Paper + Plastick and Fat Wreck Chords, knowing that the labels are headed by guys who are in bands and know what you’re going through. Is that a fair assumption?
Yeah, that’s definitely a good assumption. I started my music making later in life and I thankfully have been able to make albums on record labels that were owned by artists…. Unless you’re dealing with someone who’s got such a proven track record, for me it would be hard to hear advice from someone who’s never been through this.
When do you plan on working on the next Loved Ones’ record?
I’m kind of planning on the first half of the year to focus on the solo stuff and the second half of the year to be Loved Ones.
Have you started trading songs back and forth yet with the other guys in the band?
I have. We have about eight of them already demoed and I have rough demos of another five, so it’s coming along. It’s getting to that point where we’re going to start hitting the ground running.
Since moving up to Philadelphia, I’ve found that just about every band from Philly or New Jersey has had a Springsteen story. He goes to a lot of small shows in the area and hangs out. Do you have Boss moment yet?
When we were making the Build & Burn record, Bryan Kienlen and Pete, the two guys from the Bouncing Souls, were producing our record and Bryan ran into him at a Dropkick Murphys’ show when we were making the album and asked him to sing on “Louisiana”, so Springsteen took down Bryan’s number. He was in the middle of rehearsing for the Working On a Dream Tour, so he was in Asbury Park about two blocks from where we were recording, so it seemed like it was going to happen. He had also done a photo shoot on Bryan’s motorcycle at one point too, so they kind of knew each other. We ended up at a coffee shop and Springsteen walks in and says, “Bryan, from the Bouncing Souls! How’s that record coming along.” I’m sitting there listening to Bruce Springsteen talk about my record and Bryan goes “Here’s my friend Dave, he’s the singer of that band.” I didn’t really have the guts to talk to him. He said “I’m going to try and come by there.” He seemed very sincere, but he had a lot going on with the Today Show and everything else. We ran into him a few more times in town. He would be driving down the street and wave to us. So that’s my story. It would have been cool to have him on the record, but at the end of the day it was just nice to have him be aware of our presence.