Dave Pirner and the rest of Soul Asylum are moving “full speed ahead” on a new album, which will be the group’s first of fresh material since “The Silver Lining” in 2006.
Pirner tells Billboard.com that he and the current incarnation of the band — guitarist Dan Murphy, who co-founded Soul Asylum with Pirner 28 years ago, bassist Tommy Stinson (Replacements, Guns N’ Roses) and drummer Michael Bland (Prince‘, Nick Jonas) — have been working both in Minneapolis and in New Orleans, where Pirner now resides. “I’ve been cutting vocals here in my studio, and we’ve cut a bunch of guitars,” he says. “When all four of us are in the studio together, it’s pretty spectacular, but you’ve got to have a big studio, so mostly you’re sitting in front of a computer. It’s very odd the way the (recordng) approach has been misconstrued with all the digital technology. But it is what it is, and we make it work.”
Pirner says Soul Asylum’s new music “could be loosely categorized as rock,” though he hears other elements creeping into the tunes this time. “There’s more personality than one would expect in this day and age because the personalities in this band are so strong,” he notes. “There is actually some interesting modal stuff happening. I think what I’ve learned, being in New Orleans and trying to see past the obvious influence of roots music on rock ‘n’ roll, you start to take really bizarre, subtle detours that are really trying to sneak something else into the language. It’s not a box you have to think outside of; it’s a box you have to be comfortable with.”
Pirner says Soul Asylum is “trying to get as much new stuff into the (live) set as possible” during the band’s concert dates, while its management is in discussions for a label and/or distribution deal for the album, whose current working title is “Rough Air” but could well change. “The people that are talking about putting it out said they needed six months” for set up, Pirner. “So I said, ‘Man, I’m gonna turn this thing in,’ ’cause six months is a long time to wait. So I hope it’ll be (turned in) within the next couple weeks. That’s my plan, at least.”
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Soul Asylum’s first album, “Made To Be Broken.” The group is not doing anything in particular to commemorate that, but Pirner acknowledges that “it really takes you by surprise. It just happens so fast and so immediately, and it’s just such a twisted, twisted road that you can’t imagine what you’ve been through to get here. We don’t know what we’re doing. We never know what we’re doing, but somehow we’re here, which is kind of surreal — but that’s the way I like it.”