Interview with Soul Asylum mainman Dave Pirner
Grave Dancers Union was one of the first albums I owned on CD. Whether it was BMG Music Service or Columbia House, the message is still the same: to those companies I say – Thank You. I was never a “Runaway Train” kind of guy. I leaned more towards “Somebody to Shove”, “Black Gold”, and “Without a Trace”.
I first saw Soul Asylum live at Jones Beach Ampitheater back in the mid-90’s. Although, Soul Asylum was at the height of their popularity, they didn’t belong on that stage; not in front of nearly 20,000 people, headlining one of the most beautiful outdoor venues in the country. The pacing of the set was questionable, as they ran through the hits, then played a couple of other tunes (they should have known the majority of the crowd was there to hear songs from Grave Dancers Union and Let Your Dim Light Shine), causing the set to flail to this awkward halt by the last note (just like I should have changed this run-on sentence, they should have rearranged their song order). In the late 90’s, they returned to this very venue and played a radio festival for K-Rock, being one of the first bands to take the stage (I believe both Fred Norris and Stuttering John from Howard Stern’s show played individual sets, then Fuel, then Soul Asylum). I was there, and it definitely hit home that, “Wow. From headliner to literally begging rock radio to play ‘I Will Still Be Laughing’.
Fast forward to New York City, April of 1997, and the band was headlining a since-closed club on West 21st St called Tramps. As a little tidbit in case you’re ever on New York City Music Jeopardy, the original tramps was located a couple of steps from Irving Plaza. Anyway, I learned of the show from the Village Voice. All major venues would take out weekly advertising to list their upcoming shows. The bigger shows would always have a larger font, or something a little more grandiose to make them pop. I saw Soul Asylum on the list, in normal font, and recall thinking: “Is this THE Soul Asylum? “Runaway Train” Soul Asylum? Or perhaps it’s some local jazz act?” It was *the* Soul Asylum. The same band that headlined Jones Beach is now headlining a club that holds a couple of hundred people and couldn’t even sell it out. Talk about frustrated incorporated.
Soul Asylum has been around for nearly three decades, and were born from a city that’s musically near and dear to my heart: Minneapolis, Minnesota. Yes, I’m from the school of Paul Westerberg can do no wrong and that The Replacements influenced everything. Also, there’s this heavy metal band with an industrial vibe called American Head Charge. Babes In Toyland, Husker Du…I could go on forever. Perhaps it seems I’m being a little hard on Soul Asylum. Just take it as brutal honesty, because first and foremost, I’m a fan of the band and have followed their career since my early teens. I’ve found Dave Pirner’s lyrics to be personal, sometimes-silly-yet-honest, and have always put his work up there with alternative rock royalty such as The Pixies, Sonic Youth, The Replacements, etc.
In 2012, Soul Asylum released the long-awaited Delayed Reaction. It’s a solid collection of songs. I’d go as far to say it’s their most light-hearted, fun work since they were on top of the world many moons ago. If you’re outsite their core fanbase, you might want to take a quick peek at this offering. Clocking in at just above thirty minutes, you definitely have time to listen to the grungy, always snotty, always moody musings of Dave Pirner.
This interview features Dave being Dave, and it’s what you’re going to get out of him in 2013. It was conducted before their current co-headlining run with Fountains of Wayne (Evan Danda from The Lemonheads opens the shows). I know some of you are sitting there thinking, “Andrew, you could have been a little more positive with this article.” My answer to you is this: my opinions are always honest, and the facts are the facts. And our audience is more likely to check out Soul Asylum with this writeup than if I would have put them on the highest of pedestals.
So with all this said, check out Delayed Reaction, check out the interview…and as always, thank you for caring.
You can find all things Soul Asylum, including social media, on their official site.
You can download the interview (right click, save as) or stream the audio by clicking here.