Dave Hause: "I wanted to write the story of falling in love"

Dave Hause press shot

A guiding light of Philadelphia’s hardcore scene of the late 90s, Dave Hause went on to captain local punk legends Paint It Black and The Loved Ones in the new millennium. Since 2010 he’s carved out a niche as a rootsy singer-songwriter of some repute. His latest album is the inspired Bury Me In Philly, co-produced by one of his heroes, the Hooters’ Eric Bazilian.

How did you come to work with Eric Bazilian?

The first record I ever bought was The Hooters’ debut album. And my very first rock concert, as an eight-year-old kid, was The Hooters at the Tower Theatre [1985]. A Philadelphia DJ friend connected me with Eric. I started sending him the songs I’d been writing, and he loved them.

Your new album sounds very lean and urgent.

I’d assumed that Eric and [co-producer] William Wittman would want to take out some of the grit, but they were hell-bent on making sure it really kicked the door down from the start. The songs needed to be short and right to the point. I wanted it to feel like it was something you could put on while driving to the beach, the sort of record you fall in love with just as the weather’s starting to break.

What were you trying to get across with the record?

I really wanted to be true to where I’m from and where I’m at right now. And to write the story of falling in love, because that’s what prompted me to move out to California. I met this beautiful girl. And it’s hard to write positive, upbeat songs that don’t sound trite. I got sober in the middle of it too.

Was that one of the things that prompted you to relocate?

Maybe. I moved out of Philadelphia right as the last record [2013’s Devour] came out, so I spent a year and a half out here, still partying. Then, just before touring with Rocky Votolato in 2015, I told myself I’d try to stop, to see what it was like. Pretty quickly I realised that I was able to manage my life in a much more dignified fashion if I took those distractions out of the equation. It’s been really tough at points, but I haven’t had a drink for a year and a half now.

One of the album’s key songs, The Mermaid, alludes to that internal conflict.

Yeah. The Mermaid is this elusive thing. I certainly have a hard time trying to figure out whether the mermaid represents substances or ambition or whatever you want to put in its place. It’s always swimming away from you, so you’re not even sure if it exists in the first place. I don’t think that taking away booze or drugs is going to change that, it’s something that you just have to reckon with.

You were a staunch advocate of Hillary Clinton for president on your recent US tour with Bad Religion. How has the outcome of the presidential election affected you?

Most of the people I know were just freaked out. But the one thing I’ve been able to come back to is music. It’s galvanised me in so far as I want to stay on the side of the people and make sure my voice is a little louder. I think it’s time to get my hands dirty in a way that they haven’t been for a while.

Bury Me In Philly is available now via Rise Records.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.