As the lead vocalist and guitarist of the Philly-based punk band The Loved Ones, Dave Hause knows full well the many musical merits of high-octane rock. More recently, however, he’s also come to understand the genre’s limitations. So, when it became obvious to Hause that the batch of acoustic-guitar-and-piano-driven songs he was working on for the next Loved Ones record weren’t really Loved Ones songs at all, going the solo route seemed like a no-brainer—even if the switch came with a new set of creative challenges and obstacles. Prior to performing a pair of sold-out shows at First Unitarian Church this weekend, Hause spoke with The Key about his debut solo album, Resolutions (released in January on Paper + Plastick Records), as well as dealing with his audience’s expectations, overcoming his own sense of self doubt, and not knowing what the hell rock critics are talking about when they mention “punks gone folk.”
The Key: You said in a recent interview that, when writing the last Loved Ones’ album (2008’s Build & Burn), you “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”—but that the results “didn’t necessarily translate to all of our fans.” Specifically, what elements of the album didn’t translate well?
Dave Hause: When you read a review or you talk to a fan, and they say they didn’t like one thing, you tend to fixate on that—more so than all the positive reviews and responses. It might just be perceived, I don’t know if it’s actually reality. We were just doing something—we were following our artistic muse or whatever—and…I don’t know. I think people did like the record. It was as successful as the one before it. But it was doing something different, and whenever you do that it’s polarizing for the fans of your previous release. And, when I was writing the songs on Resolutions, I felt like I was still going down that road. I was still writing within some sort of a singer-songwriter paradigm, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to dilute what The Loved Ones do. We’re at our best when we’re a loud, cranked up, Friday-night kind of band. Especially live. And I felt like the songs that I was writing that turned into Resolutions were a little bit more suited to something with different instrumentation.
TK: As a musician, when you’re writing the next batch of songs for a new record, you want to be challenging yourself. To grow as a musician. But, like you said, that kind of creative growth can be polarizing for your audience. How do you balance your personal creative needs with the needs of your fan base?
DH: I think it’s important to not react to the last batch of songs that you wrote. Or to be overly reactionary. Like, just recently I read interview with Bright Eyes where Conor Oberst said, “Well I’m not doing any of that country stuff on this record. I wanted to get away from that.” To me, that sounds like a reaction to the last thing that they were doing…I’ve learned not to respond to the last batch of songs I wrote, or to try to do something totally opposite. It’s much more important to write from a real, honest perspective—what you feel is the best material you can put out there. Put that out, instead of worrying about what the last thing was and how people responded to it and all that. With the Resolution songs, I just wrote whatever came out and it ended up naturally forming a record. I feel like, in that sense, it’s a lot more honest and straightforward.
TK: So the reception to Build & Burn didn’t have much of an influence over your decision to split your musical ideas into two distinctly separate categories?
DH: It had some bearing on it, but there were other factors, too. I mean, the band was kind of burned out on touring. We had toured quite a bit. And we played with some really exciting people. In that sense, if we hadn’t made the Build & Burn record, I don’t know if we would have been able to go on tour with Flogging Molly, get all of those great shows, play the XPN festival, and things like that. I think, to some degree, some of the steps we took on that record established us as more of a songwriting band. But it also took us a little bit out of that punk thing. So I don’t know. I think it influenced it somewhat. But it was also based on logistics. We needed to make a new record in order to continue touring, but I didn’t feel like we had the next batch of Loved Ones songs…I mean it’s a lot easier to hop in the car or on a plane and do a tour when it’s just one guy. It seemed like the right time. And, to be honest, it’s given me a lot more perspective. It’s really boiled things down in a way that’s a lot more simpler. And it’s also given me a new fire to do the next Loved Ones record.