David Olney, singer/songwriter and square peg in the round hole that is
the music business, will be performing two shows on June 9th along with
Marshall Crenshaw. Dave's new CD, OMAR'S BLUES, is a terrific record,
and as a special bonus we've made arrangements with DEAD RECKONING (Olney's
record label) to offer the new CD at a discount price to Bottom Line webheads.
Bottom Line Web Editor Neil Lifton recently caught up with Dave at his
home in Nashville, and conducted the following phone interview. At the
end of the interview, click on the provided link to access Dave's bio,
the full Dead Reckoning website, and the Dead Reckoning special CD offer.
N.L.: Since I knew we'd be talking, I pulled out a copy of ROSES
(Olney's 1991 release) last night, and gave it a listen to try to compare
it to the new record. I'm interested in the recording process, and I wonder
what might be different about the approach to the new record, compared
with something that was recorded almost ten years ago.
D.O.: Well, with ROSES, Jim Rooney produced that one, and
this time around, I figured I was just gonna do it myself. The first few
records I did, I just kinda watched what producers did, and on the last
two I decided I knew what I wanted to get at, so I decided to do it myself.
N.L.: I notice you have Mike Henderson on guitar on both records,
so there's sort of a connection there.
D.O.: Well, Henderson's real involved with the whole Dead Reckoning
bunch, so recording for them was an opportunity to work with their band.
N.L.: They've got a great bunch of players. It must be like walking
in and playing with the world's best house band.
D.O.: Yeah. it kind of reminded me of the old STAX records.
N.L.: Or Muscle Shoals. Those guys really knew how to work together.
Did that make it easy for you?
D.O.: Yeah, they play together so much. Usually, at least for me,
when you get a bunch of players in, you have to map out what's going on,
but these guys have been together so long, they kind of have a shorthand
with each other.
You can be real spontaneous with them. In fact, there's a song I did called
"My Wild Youth" where the band kind of stops at the end, and I forgot
to stop with 'em and just kept on going, so Harry Stinson, the drummer
kinda kept going with me, and the others just picked it up immediately.
They have this cool communication going on.
N.L.: I really like the song "If I'd Have Known I Couldn't Do It".
I'm an old Ry Cooder fan, and it reminded me so much of those old Cooder
records with Bobby King and Terry Evans doing those gospel backup vocals.
D.O.: Yeah, I've been listening to alot of the PILGRIM TRAVELLERS,
and doing the background vocals was kind of a spontaneous thing ...I didn't
want to just sing harmonies, so we got into this call and response thing.
(Dave sings; If I'da known....IF I'DA KNOWN). It came out soundin' about
N.L.: So you've been listening to alot of gospel stuff?
D.O.: Yeah, someone told me the best way to hear Sam Cooke sing
was with the Soul Stirrers, so I got hold of a record, and it was really
true. He does all his signature vocal licks, but he's singing with alot
more passion, because there's not as much production, and you can really
hear the voices.
N.L.: Yeah, when he crossed over to pop they really had to smooth
out the rough edges.
D.O.: That's right.
N.L.:. I was also noticing there's almost a complete lack of keyboards
on your records. Is that a conscious decision, or .....
D.O.: Well, it was conscious insofar as I really wanted to work
in this particular studio, and they didn't have a piano, at least not
a real one.
N.L.: That's it?
D.O.: Yeah, it was pretty much that simple.. I did kind of think
about it when I brought in that horn section...I thought a keyboard might
have sounded pretty good there. Maybe next time around we'll get some
N.L.: I understand you're on your way to Europe.
D.O.: My wife is from Germany, so we're going over to visit family.
While I'm there I'm running over to Holland, where I've played a good
bit, and I kind of have a following over there. Its really cool for me
to play there because they have no language barrier. They have no geographic
barriers protecting them so they've had to learn everybody's language.
They have a good reputation for openness to music. They got into Emmylou
Harris before she ever caught on here, and Dire Straits were big over
there before they ever really took off. Also, the people in Holland are
just up for having a good time.. I think I'm going to be opening up a
show in Utrecht for Steve Earle.
N.L.: That should be a good show. I think it's interesting that
there are so many places in Europe where performers have an unexpected
fan base. Like Tom Russell is the biggest country star in Norway. Willie
Nile can go to Italy for a month and do really well.
D.O.: I think its kind of like the forest and the trees deal. If
you're in the scene in the States there's just so much going on that you
really have no perspective on things. Its kind of gratifying to go over
there where they see things from the outside.
N.L.: Let's talk a little about the scene here, as you say. You've
been sort of flying below the radar here for so long, and every now and
then you make a blip on the screen, because someone with a higher profile
may be doing a cover of one of your tunes. Do you think this new record
may bring you wider recognition, or is there something else you might
be working on that would bring you a bigger audience?
D.O.: I don't even think about that stuff anymore. In the last
few years I've been playing alot more to different audiences. I sell whatever
I can sell, and If I get too worried about getting more popular, it'll
just screw everything up. At this point, I prefer to think that my stuff
just isn't for everybody, as opposed to ten years ago, when I was trying
to be for everybody. At this point, I think it's just up to me to go out
and do good shows.