- MILAN, Italy -- In many ways, singer Dave Pirner
still, considers Soul
- Asylum a garage band.Maybe not in sound and
technique, but certainly in spirit.
- From their recent show at the annual Austin, Texas,
South By Southwest music
- conference, which features many unsigned and
relatively unknown acts, to
- the band's forthcoming album, Candy From A Stranger,
Soul Asylum's main
- songwriter said his band has tried to maintain the
musical edge that is
- often lost with fame.
- "We've all grown a little bit and we understand
- little bit more. Hopefully this will make the new
record different in a
- better way," Pirner said of the soon-
to-be-released LP (May 12). "But at the same time, we're still the same idiots from
Minneapolis," he joked, laughing
- While there's certainly a garage element to their
look -- torn jeans and T-shirts all around -- when it comes to putting out records, they
- are as far from the garage as a band could hope to
get. As proof, bandleaders Pirner and guitarist Dan Murphy sat comfortably in the
lounge of Milan's Palace hotel recently to talk about the band's new album and latest
single, "I Will Still Be Laughing". "We are very busy. We got in the
eye of the hurricane. In these situations you're always touring, promoting, 20 countries
at the same
- time. Do this. Do that. You don't even know this
until you're in the middle of it," the
- 35-year-old Murphy said, his hair disheveled as if
he'd just woken up.
- After the huge success of 1993's smash album, Grave
Dancers Union, which launched several hit singles -- including "Runaway Train"
- -- and raised the band's status from underground
- to superstars, the Minneapolis-based quartet had some
adjusting to do.
- The band's subsequent album, 1995's Let Your Dim
Light Shine, didn't earn the success of its predecessor, but Soul Asylum say they don't
see Candy From a Stranger as a do or die project. "The last record sold about a
million copies. If that's our standard, I'm happy with it. So if the new one does that,
I'll be happy," Murphy said.
- "All of this is not really in our control,"
the 34-year-old Pirner added. "The record is in our control. We give it to the record
company and say, 'You work it out now.' I'm
- just looking forward to playing, that's our
priority," Pirner explained.
- Having started writing material for the new album in
1996,Pirner said the band had to choose from 40 demos recorded between then and now to
come up with the 11
- tracks on the album. "It was quite an extensive
writing period, to make sure we had enough material to choose," he explained, adding
that he has spent a good deal of time just letting himself experience life to come up with
much of the material.
- What he came out with is an album full of some of the
classic pop-punk rock that has made a name for Soul Asylum over nine albums, an edgy,
- fueled by lyrics that speak simply of some of life's
biggest dilemmas, including love and the struggle for self-fulfillment.
- Among the songs that he composed during that time are
the album's first single and another new track, "See You Later." Among the
pop-punk standards that drive the
- album to its conclusion are the tracks "Blood
Into Wine," "Lies of Hate" and "The Game." Some of the lyrics
contained in those songs reflect on Pirner's ever-changing attitudes about his life and
- "I'm always kind-of writing things and trying to
figure out what to do next, but I also have to live a little bit to see what my new
attitude is," he explained.
- The band recorded the album with drummer Sterling Campbell,
- who left the band after finishing the sessions. His
spot has been temporarily filled by Charlie Quintana, who has played with folk-rock legend
Bob Dylan and pop songstress Joan Osborne. But Pirner and Murphy emphasized that Quintana
is not a permanent replacement.
- The band recently tried out Ian Moshington, an
unknown drummer that Soul Asylum met in London while playing on a TV show. "He's
really exciting. His style is
- pretty different from Charlie's one and they're gonna
change what the band is gonna sound like," Pirner said. "So we have to be
careful, and we still have
- a little time to make this decision." Quintana
played some club shows with the band and was in Soul Asylum's lineup at the band's recent
appearance at the South By Southwest festivities in March, an event that traditionally
- unknown bands a chance to display their talents to a
collection of industry people. "I felt a little bit uncomfortable playing there,
because it started out as an
- event to get unsigned bands signed. Those are the
kind of industry things that make my skin crawl. Our record company was insisting on
- For Pirner, the annual event was like the
announcement of a
- second coming for Soul Asylum.
- "In a way, we did something good, because a lot
- saw the bands that opened for us," he said.
"It was supposed to be our debut again. And we were introducing our new material to
the music community
- and trying to maintain our place in that