I wanted to thank Dave for doing this, I had the complete pleasure of meeting him on the set of his music video "Life Without Love" not too long ago. I was a production assistant on the shoot that my friend Kevin Otterness was directing, it was just a very cool experience.
Who are some of your musical influences [why] and thoughts on modern music is it strong or weak to your influences?
Dave Sills: Peter Himmelman, Neil Finn (Crowded House), Justin Currie (Del Amitri), Pete Townshend, Lennon/ McCartney/Harrison, Jagger/Richards, Lloyd Cole, David Gray, Gomez, U2, Bob Dylan, Jeff Tweedy, Tom Waits, Michael Penn, Aimee Mann, Joe Henry... I could go on and on. Give me a lyric that doesn't insult my intelligence. Give me a melody that sticks in my head for days. Sometimes itʼs just the way a record sounds that speaks to me. I donʼt treat music as wallpaper or background noise. I prefer to immerse myself in it, and if Iʼm doing that, I need something thatʼs deep enough. It has to make me think or feel something.
I tend to be drawn towards the melancholy when it comes to lyrics. Happy songs usually ring hollow to me. Theyʼre fine when youʼre happy, but if youʼre not, itʼs often hard to remember when you were, so you think, “I wish that idiot would shut up about how happy he is!” But a sad song can work all the time. If youʼre sad, it makes you feel better because you realize that someone else feels that way too. If youʼre happy, it can remind you of a time when things weren't so great and you can feel better about being in a better place at the moment.
Thatʼs not say that I only listen to or write dirges! One of Smokey Robinsonʼs great songwriting “tricks” was to pair up a happy sounding melody with a sad lyric, like on “Tears Of A Clown.” Thereʼs a line in a Peter Himmelman song that I think expresses the balance pretty well, “If I make you smile, wonʼt you leave just a trace of sadness in your eyes?”
A lot of the new music that I hear on radio or see on TV doesn't interest me at all. Much of it seems very gimmicky or affected - aimed at the lowest common denominator. Too much attention is put on the visual presentation at the expense of the music. The music I like tends to come from the same people Iʼve been listening to for years. Maybe that makes me sound like an old man who doesn't get what the “kids” are into these days, but Iʼm fine with that.
What are you working on now and what are some of your highlighted releases?
Dave Sills: Currently Iʼm finishing up a batch of new songs with an eye towards getting a new record started late this summer. And Iʼve been gigging as much as I can, letting the new songs evolve a bit before recording them.
I feel that every record has shown growth in my songwriting and also the quality of the production. My last album, SEA OF STRANGERS, was a Local Anesthetic Best of 2010 pick on WXRT, so for live work, much of what I play still comes from that album. Iʼm proud of the two previous records (WAITING ROOM and SOMETIMES NOTHING) as well though, and both have songs that still find their way into the set list. Even some songs from my first album, TRUE FICTION, still get pulled out every now and then even though I feel that I was still trying to find my own voice as a songwriter on that record.
When on stage what do you see in a room full of fans and do you find yourself in moments of stage fright?
Dave Sills: No, I donʼt get stage fright. Waiting to go on makes me very anxious, but once we start I always feel really confident. Most of the time there are lights shining in my face, so I canʼt really see anything but silhouettes. I feel better up there on stage than I do talking to people after a show.
What band/group would you recommend that you were recently introduced to and your reactions?
Dave Sills: Itʼs not really recent and Iʼve known about her for a while but itʼs been occupying a constant spot in my listening since it came out, so I highly recommend Lisa Hanniganʼs PASSENGER. Lisa used to sing with Damien Rice, but now sheʼs got a solo career. This is her second solo album and itʼs a gem. One song in particular, “Little Bird” is so haunting and beautiful it chokes me up every time. I have no idea what itʼs really about, but the way she sings it... whew, it just breaks my heart. If it doesn't move you, you might be dead inside.
I'd say if someone is reading this and isn't familiar with some of the people I listed as my influences, then they ought to check them out. Even if you donʼt like my music, you may end up liking some of them!
Past, Present and Future: Tell us what life is like five years ago, now and where you see yourself in five years?
Dave Sills: Five years ago was much the same as now - writing songs and trying to book more gigs! In five years, I hope to have made a few more records and be touring around the country (or world).
Bonus: You can ask me a question or tell us something you would like us to know about you or anything you want?
Was there ever a film score that you felt kind of detracted from (or ruined) the movie for you? Something that just took you out of the film completely?
RZ's Response: I am sure that I know a few scores that saved the movie from being bad, but we all have films like that. I trying to think... I do lately feel the score has been to loud where you cannot even hear the dialogue of the characters, I do know that bugs me. Okay the only film and score that I knew killed it was the awful film by John Carpenter "Ghost of Mars" in 2001... nothing against Carpenter it was like a cat in a blender hurling towards the sun. Now in my defense it was a really bad time in my life, so I was extra sensitive.