By Lindsay Emery
Dave Pirner always wants a record to have an ebb and flow, where there are loud and soft moments throughout rather than sustaining one pace throughout.
When Pirner, the lead vocalist for the Grammy-Award winning alternative rock band Soul Asylum, started writing, their music was straight ahead punk. The songs that he wrote were relatively simple and influenced by bands like the Ramones, the Sex Pistols and The Clash.
While those bands are still a source of inspiration for Pirner, he has been introduced to other artists. Even though he still loves Metallica, the influence of a broader range of artists seeped into his music.
“I think as time passed by, I started to be interested in other things,” Pirner said. “I got into Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and people that were not blasting away, if you will.”
Soul Asylum, which is best known for their triple-platinum album “Grave Dancers Union” featuring “Runaway Train,” which captured the group’s Grammy Award for Best Rock Song in 1994, will be one of the headliners at this Saturday’s Pleasantville Music Festival.
Lately, Pirner has been working on a book of lyrics, as well as completing Soul Asylum’s newest record. They are currently trying to whittle 22 songs to 11 or 12 for the album, while playing gigs throughout the summer. He said the summer is a great time to perform but playing in festivals hasn’t always been a part of the band’s scene.
“I mean back in the day they didn’t really have outdoor festivals for punk rock bands,” Pirner said.
They were used to performing at small clubs, usually around midnight, which is a lot different than playing during the day at an outdoor festival. People are there to have fun, so he is excited to play at the Pleasantville Music Festival.
As a performer that has played throughout the United States, it has showed him how every town and every region has its own vibe, Pirner said.
“So when you go play Alaska, people are very happy that you came all the way to Alaska,” Pirner said. “They’re perhaps more forgiving, they are perhaps thrilled that anyone is playing in Alaska.”
Similar to performing in different parts of the country, the title of alternative rock can also have its own distinctions. Pirner explained how alternative rock can have a positive or negative connotation, but he would like to think that Soul Asylum is alternative in its own right.
“I mean, if alternative is good, then we’re alternative because we’re not like anybody else,” he said.