Dave's new EP, Talk is Cheap, is available for free download right now at mtvU.com.
AP.net: First off, thanks for doing the interview, it's very much appreciated. Your new (well, sorta new) EP just came out this past Tuesday - how does it feel to have it finally come out?
Dave: Itís such a relief. I've had it done since AUGUST of 2005, and it was really hard to keep it to myself. Iím stoked that I'm now able to share it with everyone
AP.net: That's definitely a long time - what took so long to get it out, especially with it being a free download?
Dave: Problems at Drive Thru... I really donít know the specifics, nor do I want to. Iím just glad they got over it and released it.
AP.net: Cool, we'll I know a lot of people are happy that it's out. Out of the 100 or so replies that've been posted in response to the EP, there hasn't been one negative comment, which I'm pretty sure is a record for AP.net. Whose idea was it to make it a free release?
Dave: It was Richard's (president of DTR), which is really surprising. He said it worked for HGB, so we might as well take a shot at it
AP.net: Cool, at the same time though, Jenoah did the free download thing and it hasn't exactly worked out so hot for them - did that come into consideration?
Dave: Of course... This EP isnít going to be something that sits in the middle of the road. Itís either going to launch us to the next level, or itís going to fail miserably. That might be kind of a shitty way to look at it, but I have high hopes.
AP.net: What's going to be on the actual copy that hits stores in June that will make people want to go out and buy it when they already have all the songs?
Dave: It comes out June 13th (the day after my birthday) and we are adding another track called "For the Sake of Remembering" which is by far one of the best tracks on the EP. Trying to get people to go buy it is going to be hard, but if they want to show some support, the release will give them a chance.
AP.net: How was it working with James Paul Wisner on the EP? In what ways did he help?
Dave: James is an amazing producer, musician and person. He not only helped bring together each track, but he also added SO many dimensions and layers to each song. For example, we collaborated on ALL the piano parts on the EP, because he is an amazing pianist, and he brought it to another level. Itís really hard to find someone who not only is as talented as him, but also as kind-hearted and dedicated.
AP.net: That's awesome. So it's been a while since you recorded your EP, have you had time to write new songs and prepare for you full length? If so, how do those songs differ from the EP?
Dave: I've had a lot of time to write songs for the LP, and the songs have been really interesting. Over this past year I've experienced a lot of things that have made me a different person. For example, my dreams and illusions about how awesome the music business is have been COMPLETELY ruined by the things I've witnessed in the past 12 months. So in turn, the subjects of my songs are about dealing with that realization and overcoming it. I've also been writing a lot more acoustic songs, which is different.
AP.net: Could you talk a little more about what your expectations of the music business were and in what ways you've been disenchanted?
Dave: Well for one thing... the fans have NO idea whatís going on. It doesnít matter how many times you read AP, or what you THINK you know, outsiders have no clue about the gross stuff that happens all too frequently in this business. Iím not going to go into specific examples or details, but there was a portion of this year where I was ready to just go to college because of the things I saw. Just open you eyes, and ask questions.
AP.net: What do aspiring musicians need to watch out for?
Dave: Well, itís very easy to change as a person and musician when entering the business. As soon as you gain an acclaim EVERYONE around you tries to tell you what you should do, how you should look and what you should write. The main thing is to just remember how it was before money, before competition, before all the bullshit that comes with entering this field. Those who can do that will be fine, and those who donít are consumed by it and eventually changed, almost always for the worse.
AP.net: How have things been with Drive Thru so far? Have they treated you like you were hoping?
Dave: I love Drive Thru for many reasons. I believe that they are one of the few labels that are actually concerned about the long term success of their bands, and they honestly care about the fans of their label. It would be unfair for me (or anyone for that matter) to judge Drive-Thru based on the past years, because they have run into some serious road blocks. I think I would be able to answer this question much more comprehensively in a few months....
AP.net: How did the whole signing process come about? How did they hear of you? And what did it take to convince them to take a younger artist seriously? I heard you also had majors interested - how does one go about presenting him- or herself in a manner that will make big labels go "Ok, this personís serious," you know, being only 16 at the time?
Dave: Honestly, this is going to sound really arrogant but please donít take it the wrong way... But my goal when starting this project was not to get signed, and in a way I think thatís why people were attracted to it. When I started writing music by myself it was just for fun, and just to make music I loved and wanted to share with my friends. The short story is that Richard heard some songs online, saw me live, and wanted to sign me. I thought that was the end of the process, but it took over 4 MONTHS, to sign my deal because of all the bullshit that went on in between. After Drive-Thru expressed their "interest" a lot of majors and other prominent indies came out of the woodwork, so to speak. It was really cool, and at the same time I couldnít helping thinking that these people were only here because Drive-Thru had first "discovered" me, or whatever you want to call it.
AP.net: Did you listen to Drive Thru bands growing up? If so, did that influence the decision at all?
Dave: Of course it did... I would be lying if I denied it. The Starting Line was the first band that got me into the "indie punk" scene, if you will. Senses Fail and The Early November made me see that it was completely possible to be successful at 17-18 years old, and that I could make something of myself whenever I decided to. I love Finch, Steel Train, Homegrown, Midtown, New Found Glory, Something Corperate, Fenix TX,hellogoodbye and so on...They changed the way I listened to music, and I love them for that.
AP.net: Awesome. Let's talk a little more about your new EP - what's your favorite song on there and why?
Dave: "Knights of the Island Counter" is definitely my favorite track because it reminds me of the good times I used to have with my friends. I've developed a bad case of senioritis lately, and that song has kind of helped me remember the good times without being too sad. The song also points in the direction I want to go for the full length. I think the sound is different, but at the same time familiar to people, which allows them to make a connection with it.
AP.net: A few readers were wondering about the lyrics relating to alcohol and how your parents might feel about them haha
Dave: My parents arenít stupid... they know what kids do, and they would be ignorant to think that I didnít do the same. They totally understand that itís more about the feelings connected with drinking with your friends more than just getting plastered.
AP.net: Why wasn't "Wait For It" re-recorded for the EP?
Dave: Iím saving it for the LP...calm down.
AP.net: You mentioned that you've been writing more acoustic songs; will your full length include more strictly acoustic songs?
Dave: Probably not... Iím trying to make it 50/50, but it will most likely end up 60/40 in favor of full band songs.
AP.net: How do you prefer to be viewed - as a singer-songwriter who is known for the songs you play on your own, or the ones you play with your band?
Dave: Neither... I try to take a cue from Billy Joel and just have people like the songs I write, regardless of whether they are full band or acoustic. An artist can still be a "solo artist" with a band behind them, because they are the ones who write and compose the songs. I never understood what was so hard to understand about that because throughout time thatís how its been: Billy Joel, Elton John, and Bruce Springsteen... Three huge names, all had backing bands but were still solo artists. Thatís what Iím shooting for. I donít want people to just associate solo artists with acoustic guitars, it can be more than that.
AP.net: Do you feel like people in the "scene" might dismiss you when they just see your name and say "Oh, awesome, another dude with an acoustic guitar?" Have you considered dropping your name in favor of a "full band" name?
Dave: I have considered it, and I've had many people try to get me to change it for many reasons, but I have a feeling that it would take a lot away from the feel of what I have going now. A band consists of members that are vital to the band, and if one leaves than itís not the same band. Iím not ready to do something like that: I love my band, and they definitely add to the project, but as far as writing goes I need to keep it personal or its going to lose its sincerity. Itís really the last thing I have a hold of from when I first entered the business
AP.net: What's the story behind "Vatican Roulette?"
Dave: A lot of people think that Vatican Roulette is a personal story, but it isnít. Itís more about the observations I've made from being around those kind of situations and seeing friends fall into the same scenario over and over again. Kids today totally donít take sex seriously, and with the prevalence of MySpace, sex has almost lost all of its meaning. This song is more about showing people that sex should still mean something, and that you should at least share that with someone whoís special. Iím not Christian, Iím not against sex...I just want people to think twice before going through with "it."
AP.net: Going back to the name thing real quick, why the switch from David to Dave?
Dave: Iím more of a Dave than a David... thatís all I got.
AP.net: Is it weird to see kids wearing a shirt with your name on it?
Dave: Not at all.
AP.net: When can we expect the full length, and do you have any producers in mind?
Dave: Iím lucky I got the EP out, so I really donít know when the LP is going to be recorded... I still have to narrow down the selection from over 30 songs, to 10, and get them approved by the label and so on...I'm definitely doing the LP with James Wisner again, he did such an awesome job with the EP that I wouldnít be surprised if I did a bunch of albums with him.
AP.net: What can people look forward to on your full length?
Dave: The full length is just going to be an expansion of the EP, and hopefully people will be able to see some growth between the two albums. Like I said, Im trying to incorperate the acoustic side into the act along with the full band aspect that people seem to be digging right now. Im just focusing on writing the most honest and unrefined songs that I can, so that when I take them into James he can really help me make an amazing album, since we plan on recording for 2 months or longer.
AP.net: Holy shit, you must love him
Dave: I do! if you worked with him you would understand.
AP.net: What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Dave: Pete Wentz once told me "Never sign a contract if you donít have to" and thatís saved me from being stuck in a ton of shitty situations.
AP.net: Springsteen or Dylan?
AP.net: What records have you been listening to lately?
Dave: Springsteen: The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle, Cartel: Chroma, Meatloaf: Bat Out of Hell, and Incubus: Morning View.
AP.net: How do your parents feel about you being out on the road and not being in school?
Dave: My parents trust me because I care about my grades more than I do. I donít know why, but I've been an overachiever in school for as long as I can remember, so I go to great lengths to get it done.
AP.net: Are you doing online school?
AP.net: Going back to the Drive Thru thing... having your EP released a whole year after it was done must have been frustrating Ė did you make your voice heard to DTR with any dissatisfaction?
Dave: Yes... I bitched, I moaned, but there was nothing at all that I could do about it. Which made the situation that much more frustrating. I didnít understand it then, and I'm not sure I do now... but they know what they're doing and I'm sure its for the best.
AP.net: Are you still happy you signed with Drive Thru?
Dave: I feel like at this point in my career my relationship with Drive-Thru is finally starting... it might not make sense, but it seems like the past year has just been a crash course for me, trying to get used to all the shit that I'll be dealing with for the rest of my life. One thing for sure is that I love Richard and Stefanie, and they are two of the coolest people that I know.
AP.net: What's your favorite song to play live?
Dave:: ďSamís Song,Ē because I feel thatís when people get to really witness the work that I put into each of my songs. When Iím on stage with just my acoustic guitar it just seems a lot more personal and I feel a connection with the crowd that makes me feel like they really understand where Iím coming from with the song.
AP.net: How did you meet the other members of your band and how do they feel about you being in the spotlight?
Dave: I was in previous bands with Matt (bass) and Clark (guitar), and I met Nate (drummer) through mutual friends. I think that they are cool with the whole situation, but you'd honestly have to ask them. At this point its really tricky because there isnít much money (if any) in it for them, just the prospect of going out on the road and playing music nightly, and what this project could eventually evolve into.
AP.net: Pepsi or Coke?
AP.net: What's the funniest story you have since you started playing music full time?
Dave: The funniest story really cannot be printed, but the drummer alludes to it in the making of the video... Other than that, itís probably the time we got lost and thought we were in an alternate universe, while we were only 2 minutes away from where we actually needed to be (no we were not on any type of drug).
AP.net: Could you see your music making it in the mainstream, and if so, how would you feel about it?
Dave: I would be totally fine with it, because I think that you can be mainstream and still be cool with people as long as you donít change everything youíre about. A lot of times bands need to compromise their act to be accessible to the public, and thatís what people get angry about...
AP.net: What's your most anticipated release of 2006?
Dave: Itís a tie... Dashboard and Brand New.
AP.net: What do you think the new Brand New's gonna sound like? And are you pissed that they don't keep their fans updated? Whatís your take on them?
Dave: I think Brand New wont be able to live up to Deja, but the CD is going to rock none the less. And Iím completely not pissed because being weird and mysterious is totally part of the reason I love them. They donít shove their music down your throat, they just put it out there and let it happen. It seems like they do that because they know that if the music canít do it on its own, then they donít really deserve success...
AP.net: Is there anything you wish you could go back and change about your EP?
Dave: I wish that I could have done one more song... But right now Iím working on it with Matt (bassist) and weíre planning to release it on Purevolume in a few months.
AP.net: What are some unsigned bands to keep an eye out for?
Dave: MyGetAway, The Years Gone By, Scenic Attraction, and Easton
AP.net: What advice do you have for people trying to make it in the music business, either as a musician or on the business side?
Dave: Donít be a scum bag... Itís easy to be sleazy and dishonest, because it gets you farther faster, but if you just focus on being a good person and staying grounded, then you'll be able to have a career for the rest of your life
AP.net: How do you and DTR plan to promote a free EP? Is it even in their interest to go all out for an EP that they won't be receiving any money for?
Dave: Like I said before, I truly believe that DTR has a vested interest in just making a band successful because they know that in turn it will make their label bigger, and obviously it will sell more records. They are getting behind the EP as much as they can, because they know that if I get a following now, then people will buy the LP and then they can reap the benefits. They arenít impatient and thatís awesome, because they know it takes time to make artists that will be able to sell records for many years to come.
AP.net: How was it working with Darren Doane? Can you tell us a little bit about the video and the experience you had shooting it?
Dave: Darren Doane was really funny, and I'm still confused how he pulled the whole thing off. We came to the site with an idea, some people, and a camera crew, and we left with an awesome video because he had the vision to put it all together. The extras were also amazing! If I remembered everyoneís name I would thank them all right here, but they were just so patient and did such an amazing job, and we couldnít do it without them.
AP.net: Thanks for 2 hours of your life! Seriously, thanks very much for the interview. Anything you'd like to say to the readers of AP.net? Any shoutouts?
Dave: Shout out to my band, and to everyone who has posted bulletins on MySpace or told their friends about the EP. No matter what record labels think, the FANS are the people who decide what they like :)
Dave: People always feel weird about IMing me
Dave: Tell them not to be
Dave: Thatís why I put my screen name online, I want people to talk to me and ask questions