Exclusive interview with Dave Pirner of SOUL ASYLUM-Dave talks about upcoming Rock and Roll Express tour with 3 Doors Down + Collective Soul, their Record Store Day Release, and more

Soul Asylum started as a punk band, but it wasn’t until the early 90s that they became huge with hits like “Runaway Train” and “Black Gold off of the album “Grave Dancers Union.”  They became so big that they were asked to even play at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton the next year.

They then released another album called “Let Your Dim Light Shine” which went platinum like “Grave Dancers Union” which also scored them hits like “Misery.”  They released “Candy From A Stranger” in 1998.   A very unfortunate thing happened to them in 2004 when founding member Karl Mueller was diagnosed with cancer and later passed away the next year.  They later released “The Silver Lining” in 2006 and “Delayed Reaction” in 2012.  Their most recent album “Change of Fortune” which was released in 2016 is a diverse album for them really pushing the envelope for a modern Soul Asylum album.  Dave talks about that in the interview as well as song called “Doomsday” from that album which he thinks fans identify with it because of recent political events.

 Dave also talks about their upcoming Rock and Roll Express tour which is also with 3 Doors Down and Collective Soul where Soul Asylum will play around 40 minutes.  Also talked about in the interview is their upcoming Record Store Day Release “Live From Liberty Lunch, Austin, TX.”  To find more info about that release, go HERE.

Here is the interview below:

Hi Dave?

Dave: Hey Scott how you doing man

Good how are you

Dave: Not too bad

You guys are touring with 3 Doors Down and Collective Soul this summer. How did that come about?

Dave: The situation comes every summer where the whole family could go.  More or less it’s a lottery.  Whose going out this summer, who wants to go out this summer?  Its just the type of thing where you go play every night and travel around America all summer long.  Its kind of inconsequential as far as like what I have to do with it.  Its good work if you can get it basically.

Collective Soul has probably some of the same fans as you guys.  3 Doors Down seems like new territory though.  How do you think your music will go over with their fans?  Do you think you will gain a good amount of fans from the tour?

Dave: Actually, I have no idea.  Maybe their fans will hate us (laughs).

Do you have a strategy for gaining new fans from that tour?  Will you play like more of your upbeat songs?

Dave: No, its kind of fucked.  Because you know if we’re working a lot of new material then we want to play that.  We’re working on some stuff from the Twin Tone Records. I don’t know probably not.  We should just go out and play all new material, but at some point it will piss somebody off.  You sort of get funneled in doing what works best and I have no idea actually (laughs).  We’ll see how it goes but we’re used to playing 90 minutes.  It kind of sucks for Soul Asylum fans in a way.  But yea a lot of these shows are just they’re free.  I like a free show (laughs).

I was going to say because I remember reading an interview with you about you guys doing the Summerland tour and you didn’t get that much time.  Do you think the pros outweigh the cons to playing a short stage time compared to doing a tour like you did the past few years with The English Beat or Cracker.

Dave: I mean, it’s a tough one for me because I have a long in the bars with The Meat Puppets.  The band needs to do this just to survive. We will make the best out of it and have a great time.

And you said you were working on playing older songs from the Twin Tone days?

Dave: Yeah Michael Bland my drummer has been on bit of a jag pulling songs out from the back catalog and I mean we’re such a better band than 25 years ago.  It was really fun for me to get to relive these songs.

So you think you might throw some of those old songs in the setlist?

Dave: We’ve been sort of rotating shit in that no one thought we would play and that’s fun.  I don’t know how much of that we could fit into a 40 minute set.

You have a new record store day release coming out.  Its called “Live from Liberty Lunch Austin TX.”  Can you tell us why you chose this release?

Dave: I have no recollection of that show being recorded.  Columbia Records called me up and said “hey we got this live recording from Liberty Lunch and asked if we want to put it out for Record Store Day” and I said “Can I hear it?”  I was like “not bad for a bunch of punk rockers.  It could have been much worse.”  I’ve been becoming less end less self conscious of shit that I did.  I didn’t know what I was doing, but some people find it charming (laughs).  It’s really hard for me not to be you know, I’m my own worst critic.  I cringe because I hear so many things, but I’ve been convinced that there’s things that people don’t really notice.  When you make a mistake on stage, you don’t start crying.  You smile and pretend that you meant to do it (laughs).

Do you remember how big Grave Dancers Union was around this time?  Was it just starting to get big?

Dave: That’s a good question.  I think I have the date written down when the show was recorded.  No, I don’t, I have no idea.

Why do you think Grave Dancers Union was received so well?  Obviously the hits were great but what else?  Do you think it was so appealing because it was a good album that you can listen to all the way through?

Dave: Well, yeah thank you.  That’s an album how everyone used to make albums.  Maybe that one came out right before it was too late.  It was kind of the last days of people listening to LP’s.

What do you think it was that made this album so unique compared to others?

Dave: Grave Dancers Union?  It’s a fucking great record.  I’m having a hard time understanding what you’re asking.  Why people like it?  The band kind of hit their stride, the planets aligned, the record company got behind it and everyone was in the right place as the right time.  And it doesn’t happen everyday.  Its like playing pool (laughs).

The 90s have been getting popular again with your tour and other tours this summer.  What do you think it is about the 90s that are making people get into it again?

Dave: I think its a cycle.  A circular cycle.  I noticed that when Rockabilly got popular for a while or whatever the fuck it is, people like it.  Oh it’s the 80s, it’s the 90s.  If you go through it you don’t separate it by a decade, but Rock and Roll was king man I mean fuck it. You get enough of this music that kind of doesn’t have guitars in it.  People start to miss the guitars.  I’m not big on nostalgia.  I’m big on timelessness. For me, it’s listening to Miles Davis, Leonard Cohen, Kendrick Lamar, and Metallica.  I love it all.

Your last album change of fortune had a lot of thing that made it sound like a modern Soul Asylum album, but also had some new things that mad it sound different.  Why was it so much of a departure from Delayed Reaction which was like a pop/rock album?

Dave: I think that that may have something to do with me caring less and less about sort of conventional ideas I suppose.  Getting ideas and taking the music and direction of how I wanted to.  I wouldn’t call it pop music as long as its from the heart .  I don’t really care if its popular or not.

How do you think the fans responded to this different style of music?  Do you think it pleased some while doing the opposite for others?

Dave: I think that if you’re going to call them fans then they are gonna come for the rock and the roll whether its electric or whatever.  I hope what the band does is not leaving songs that sound the same. That is not what we do.

Doomsday was a popular song when the album came out.  What do you think it was about that song that made it so popular among the fans?

Dave: I had no idea that was popular, but thank you that’s very exciting.  Actually it was written before Donald Trump was President and I think that’s probably why people are identifying with it.

Thank you, good luck on the tour.  I am going to catch the NY show

Dave: Thank you for your time.

To get more of your Soul Asylum fix, check them out in our VIDEOS section where we have their performance from Paste Studios (which has awesome sound quality).

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