Dave Hause Interview

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Dave Hause

Dave Hause is balancing his love of music, with his love of wife and kids back home in California.  Touring for this 4th solo album, Dave will play Montreal on March 8th, 2020 at Petit Campus.

We spoke to Dave about what it means to be Punk in 2020, gratitude for the business, what Dave would like to sabotage, and did a deep dive into a few songs from Kick.

Tickets:  Petit Campus March 8th, 2020 (Dave Hause & The Mermaid) with Chris Cresswell (Flatliners)

Montreal Rocks:  I don’t really know you, we’ve never met, but from what I see on the Internet, I can make a few assumptions:  You are a proud father of twins.  You are a loving husband as seen from pictures on Instagram.  You have musician friends who nudged you back into performing solo.  You also have fans that are quite happy to pay for tickets, even if they are parents of twins.    *laughs*

Dave Hause:  All of the above checks out.

MR:  That tells me you are a pretty chill dude, an all-around nice guy.

Dave:  It depends on who you ask.  I work hard on my gratitude, especially relating to this job.  This is the type of job you ask for when you are a little kid.  Most people don’t get rewarded with those jobs.  I take that seriously.  I’ve met a lot of musical heroes.  Some of them were overwhelmingly great…some of them weren’t.  I would hope that somebody walks away from exchanges with me with a positive feeling.  

As far as being a chill dude, over-all nice guy…it’s taken work to get to the place I’m at.  I wasn’t always this way.  It’s a work in progress with therapy and self-work.  

MR:  For sure.  I’m 10 years your senior.  We’ve got to mature and learn from our past mistakes.  When you talk about hard work, it reminds me of your contractor background.  I have a few friends who tour a lot, but are in construction when they are back home, to make ends meet.  Apart from that hard work, what other similarities are there between being in construction and being a creator of rock music?

Dave:  In both fields, you are balancing creative license with customer expectations and hopes.  In music, you can do a lot more of what you want, you know…put any old kitchen into somebody’s house.  Also, the idea of running a small business in America.  You are only able to eat if you go and produce work.  If I don’t book work for the fall, I won’t eat.  It’s feast and famine in both careers. 

MR:  It’s interesting you mention that, because I’m launching a podcast called RockStarToday.com where I help musicians quit their day jobs.  I interview Ted Talk speakers, best-selling authors and people outside the traditional music business to get their advice on how to make a living at this.  It is like a small business.  You might not be an automatic fit to do all these things, as a creative person.  It’s something you have to learn and get better at.

Dave:  Just like in any business, if you spend more than you make, you are going home with nothing.  That factors into touring because creative comforts are hard to come by.  There are many tricks and maneuvering that goes into all of it, even for a tour like this one.  We are playing some enormous shows in markets where we do really well, and smaller shows in markets we are still developing.  You have to be able to expand and contract in this business.  That is true about construction as well.  You can’t go into a small job with 6 guys and expect to make any money, but you need more people for bigger jobs.  Tons of parallels.

I’m lucky I haven’t swung a hammer in probably a decade.  I’ve helped people on some projects, made some extra money while writing a record, or just do it to chill out.  

MR:  That’s awesome.

Dave:  Yeah.  I’m well aware that with a few strokes of the wrong kind of wind blowing, I’ll be back at it.  It’s a motivator.

MR:  You aren’t throwing TVs out of the hotel window, type thing.  

Dave:  No…those days are long gone.  I got sober in 2015 and haven’t looked back at any of those kinds of behaviors that are born of that. 

MR:  Like I mentioned earlier, we eventually grow up but having kids is also very sobering, especially twins, I would assume.

Dave:  It’s sobering but also, to me, the epidemy of joy.  We’ve just played the biggest tour that we’ve ever done, in churches and theatres.  It wasn’t really on the heels of the record, which came out 10 months ago.  We were asking quite a lot of the audience to come and be seated.  It did enormously well.  When I returned to my kids, I felt a different kind and more acute joy, even if I was thrilled and had a final show in London.  Work is work, but my fame is based around them…my new North Start.  That’s a big change that I didn’t anticipate.  

So, instead of basking in that achievement, I came home and experienced true joy, being with my children.       

MR:  Thinking about your childhood, was there a time where music went from something you heard to something you felt?  Maybe a song or band that unlocked something in you.

Dave:  Multiple ones.  The first was when I was 8 years old, there was a band from Philadelphia called The Hooters that had a couple of hits on the radio and they were starting to break.  They were the hometown pride.  They were the first band that was mine, not my parent’s.  Obviously, I’d listened to music my whole life up to that point and had an interest in it, listening to my parent’s records and so on.  From Lionel Ritchie, Dylan, Tom Petty to The Beatles.  The Hooters were when I realized I could have my own records.  I got Bryan Adams “Reckless”, Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, The Misfits and others at age 8 and 9, where I was developing my own taste.  Heart put out a really radio friendly record in the mid 80s that I was super into.  

MR:  I can relate to that one too.  That was a really wide variety.  

Dave:  Yeah, I’ve always been into all kinds of music.  Most of the punk thing came together because that’s how I learned to play as a teenager.  I’ve always been fascinated, obsessed with and intrigued by songs no matter how they get delivered.  If there is a compelling thing to them, I’m hooked.  The punk thing was just a branding thing over the years.  I was more and less into punk.  The less rules, the better off I am. 

MR:  You’ve been associated with the Punk label for many years now, but what does Punk mean to you in 2020?         

Dave:  Compassionate.  Just like when rock-n-roll and jazz became popular, people were interesting in going against the status quo.  In fact, rock-n-roll as a social movement certainly had a bigger impact than punk rock did.  You don’t get one without the other, kind of thing.  

I was raised in an Evangelical Christian community in a working-class neighborhood in Philadelphia.  Most of the things that were being thrown at me in the Reagan 80s, Bush’s 90s and Clinton’s era…these machinations of society always puzzled me. 

I would think: 

Why are we doing it this way?  
This is f*@#ed up.  
Why is Capitalism the rule?  
Why do we cater to corporate interests?  
Why aren’t people more compassionate?  

That is my association with Punk, being frustrated with the lack of humanity in the modern world.  In the last couple of years, particularly in the United States, it has gotten acutely worse. 

“That is my association with Punk, being frustrated with the lack of humanity in the modern world.”

Dave Hause

We need Punk sentiment…

MR:  More than ever!

Dave:  More than ever.  The work isn’t done.  To some degree, I was lulled to sleep in the Obama years.  I went with my Californian girlfriend, now wife, to blissfully, in a bubble, vote for Hillary Clinton assuming she’d win.  I was thinking we were on this progressive ladder, knowing that there is obviously blood on her hands.  She’s part of the system.  

Even when spending time in a red state, I was in a cultural center when we played one time.  I was totally unaware of how vicious things had gotten in response to Obama with racism and sexism.  It was a wake-up call to people who thought that the work was done.  We thought we were strumming along…  

MR:  Evolving into a culture of acceptance but that isn’t the case.

Dave:  No, it’s not.  I think that when people are interacting with other human beings, they are less apt to be vicious, then when they are online.  There is work to be done, which is the point.  For me, Punk has to do with compassion and being not willing to take s#!t from people just because they are in a position of power. 

MR:  When we are young and inexperienced, we think we can change the world.  Now that you are married, have kids, what power do you think we have as individuals, to change the world?

To bring this into perspective, your album deals with this kind of change…

Dave:  I’m just implementing small changes.  The waves of impact, as a singer, is not something I think about until I speak to our fans at the merch booth, or the parking lot.  That is when you realize the impact of what you are doing is much bigger than you.  It’s very humbling.  

That’s a part of resistance to dehumanizing culture, to do human things.  To come to live shows and be together.  Be vulnerable in a song and hopefully reach people that are needing help.  

Hopefully, these songs are small balms for wounds that people carry.  That’s what songs are for.  Patty Griffin, Joe Strummer and others help in times of frustration, anger and sadness.  Hopefully I can give that gift too. 

There is also raising your kids responsibly.  There is going to therapy to work on issues that I have, to be a better husband, brother, and father.  

The big changes are afoot.  We are moving in that direction.  Hopefully, in America, this is a backlash towards a lot of things that will get corrected again.  

But to me, it’s all about how you interact daily with your family, neighbors and how you treat your band.  All of that has ripple effects.       

MR:  How you do the small things, will dictate how you do the big things.  

Dave:  That’s really true.  If you have little regard for others when you are taking out the trash…

MR:  It might come out in all kinds of ways. 

Dave:  Yeah…like headlining London to 800 people.  You want to try to correct those things, because everything is connected.  That’s a big thing for me, to keep learning as I go through life.  That lesson keeps coming up…everything is connected.

MR:  You have a new song on the album called “Saboteurs”, which has a real Springsteen vibe.  What is something that you would like to sabotage today?

Dave:  All of what we are talking out.  I live in America.  I operate within white culture, in a Capitalist society.  I’m in the music industry.  All these things are rife with corruption, s#!ttiness and dehumanization.  You have to live in the world you live in.  I jokingly talked about moving to Canada for 10 to 15 years now, but I’m not going to.  This is where I’m from and this is where my family lives.  Hopefully, the sentiment I was working with on that song was to make bombs for something that is damaging to the inside.  It’s less about lighting a bomb off, more making those changes in life.  We use the song as a way to make it feel exciting, but really, it’s tiny sabotages of brands or dehumanizing systems.  Hopefully the song makes those difficult acts of sabotage feel a little more exciting.  

MR:  You can sabotage negativity with goodness.

Dave:  That’s right.  That’s the hope.

MR:  You want to be that guiding light for your children.  I haven’t always been the best parent, I’m always trying to be better, but I want to lead by example. 

Dave:  Right.  It’s hard to age with grace no matter what, but it’s really hard in rock-n-roll.  Another layer of that comes with children.  You want to act like you are the person that your kids are looking up to, and that you are worth that.  They are looking up at you either way.  

MR:  You mention that in another song “Eye Aye I”, the line about the old bores and the arrogant dumb young opening bands.

Dave:  Yeah…which one I hate more.  The thing about that song and what I was trying to be honest with was that feeling of doubt when you hit this age.  I don’t actually hate the opening bands or the old bores.  I understand what it’s like to be both.  What’s interesting to me about that song is what if it’s all true?  What if the holy war is upon us and we get to see who made who?  What if we were wrong about rock-n-roll and it isn’t any kind of saving grace?  The bombs…the guns…and all that.  Maybe I should have learned to kill, instead of play guitar.  

I don’t really believe that, but everyone has had those doubts at some point.  Man…did I give my whole life to the Humanities, but should have gone to business school instead?  There is that creeping doubt as you get older and you get more cynical.  That’s what that song is trying to wrestle with.  Obviously, the song that comes after that, is hopefully where you land.  It’s the intro to the record.

MR:  It’s interesting because I live in a world of Entrepreneurship.  That’s my day to day business.  I get to associate with people who are extremely successful.  Yet, no matter how much money they make, they often have the same feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt and imposter syndrome.  Money doesn’t solve their problems; it just amplifies who they are inside.  To me, that is not true happiness.  Money is a tool.  It can help you raise your family or a tool to destroy, if used wrong.  

Dave:  Yeah, totally.  That’s why I’m in therapy.  I’ve made money.  Not a ton, but enough to live in California and not worry, all from playing my guitar.  It’s crazy.  I’ve done all the things you want to do when you get into a band, good and bad.  At the end of the day, what motivates me is the good in it.  Keeping your antenna high enough that you can channel the energy of the Universe into songs.  

“Keeping your antenna high enough that you can channel the energy of the Universe into songs.” – Dave Hause

That has less to do with me than with being open to a process.  If I can do that, and guide the show in a compelling way, people will feel like there is hope, redemption and good in the world.  That’s the thing to do, not the money or being popular.  In this Social Media age, you are constantly on a treadmill for likes.  That’s not why I got into this.  

MR:  I have noticed something, specifically about the backstage area.  Everybody wants to be famous.  People that have fame, want a bigger font on the festival poster.  Then you have the ultra-famous, who want to go back to the beginning so they can have a life.  This strange circle of fame where everyone wants to be recognized, but it’s not natural to be put on a pedestal and be adored.  It changes you.  If you can stay grounded, it could really help.  

For you, being married, having children, having these things on the side that you really have to work at, that you are passionate about…obviously…that is where your true joy is.  This can help you stay grounded.  That, in effect, helps make music that reaches more people because it’s more honest.  You are on the right path.

Dave:  Then you just have to deal with those ancillary problems here and there.  Having someone “bother” you about how much they like your music, before a show as you are trying to eat is not that big of a deal.  I have artist friends of mine who acted as if it was.  

I get to do this.  That’s the thing I always think about:  I don’t have to do it, I get to do it.  Hopefully, that will lead me back to those waters where the songs are swimming by and I can catch a couple of the good ones and keep going.

MR:  They are definitely catchy.  I listened to the album a couple of times in a row last night, as I was working, and I was getting into it.  I’m looking forward to your show at Petit Campus on March 8th, 2020.

Dave:  I’m psyched to be back in Montreal.    

MR:  The new album is called KICK.  Who is on the cover?

Dave:  It’s the niece of a friend of mine.  She sent me the photo and I thought: “Wow…that looks like a record cover.”  Lo and behold, it was.  It seemed to encapsulate the way I view America and modern society.  There is a little bit of…

MR:  There is an attitude, in her face, definitely.  

Dave:  Attitude alright.  She’s hitting it head on.  

MR:  I’m looking at it now…she’s PUNK!

Dave:  Totally.  

Follow Dave Hause on Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram 

Interview: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube. His new Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their days jobs is coming soon.

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