Tell me a bit about the album theme for "Your Star Was Shining" –
is it strictly about women you’ve known, or is there more to it?
JD: There wasn’t an intentional theme when we were writing the album,
even though listening to it now, there certainly appears to be one.
We didn’t set out to write a "rock opera" celebrating all these lovely women, but apparently these stories were just in the front of my consciousness at the time. The songs are all absolutely true and autobiographical. They take place over a number of years. They’ve just been run through some kind of poetic perspective.
Is "Miss Yugoslavia" based on someone from personal experience?
JD: Yes, all the songs are about real people, and all the incidents described in the songs pretty much really happened. I think cool stories happen to almost everybody everyday, but most people just don’t take the time to write them down. And why should they? I’m sorta cursed with the desire to take true stories from my life and transform them into something useful, or better yet, beautiful… Yes, Ms. Yugoslavia is a very real person, and almost exactly as
described… Same with Olivia, Angela Priest, and Rocket Sue.
Tell me about your experiences so far with "Living Room Sessions."
JD: "The Living Room Sessions" is a residency L’Avventura is performing in a cool beatnik cafe near Berkeley. Live we’re a seven-piece band with cello, violin, vintage analog synths and loads of guitars, acoustic and electric. The audience is seated on couches and the stage is set up to look like a living room. In a situation like this we can play with a lot of sonic nuance and dynamics unlike the typical rock-club scene where it’s just pure pandemonium. Here, the audience is really listening to the songs and stories, kinda like in the classic folk tradition.
Any chance of coming to NYC to support the album?
JD: We would love to, and we’re working on it. The album is getting a great response in the UK right now, so we’re hoping to do a US tour going east and then fly to UK from NYC.
Tell us three of your musical heroes and what makes them so special
JD: 1) John Lennon for his writing, his humor, and for being the smartest, toughest rock singer ever, and also the most tender.
2) Bob Dylan for the way he sings his lyrics. His phrasing is unbelievable. I can barely stand it when people cover his songs. Even the Byrds (who we love) just sound to me like they’re mouthing his words.
3) James Brown, Marvin Gaye, The Clash, Leonard Cohen, Beach Boys, Elvis Costello, Hank Williams, Iggy Pop, Rolling Stones, Nick Drake, John Lee Hooker. All brilliant and believable. Was that supposed to be only three?
Do you pick up tips from other bands you’ve toured from? Tell us a
little bit about your recent experience on the road.
JD: We mostly pick up tips by listening to mind-blowing records by our favorite artists. We immerse ourselves in classic LPs, which is very inspiring and which helps us to see our own stuff in perspective. For better or worse.
What do you find works best for your creative process when bringing
a song together? Does it evolve from jams, riffs, lyrics?
JD: Most of the songs start with Fergus coming up with some amazing chord progression, which he plays for me, and then immediately rejects. I’ll pull the song out of the fire and write lyrics to it. I had to convince him Rocket Sue was any good!! Sometimes he’ll start with a slippery riff and we’ll build off of that. And sometimes I’ll walk in with a complete set of lyrics and we’ll see what kind of music that evokes. We never have developed a song from a jam. I kinda feel like my life is slipping away if I’m jamming, so I never do it. I
especially feel like my life is slipping away, listening to somebody else jamming! It’s not that hard to put three or four chords into some good order.
What’s next for the band?
JD: Lots of shows, tours, etc… We’ll be recording the next album this summer. Mostly we want to continue having fun, and trying to create LPs that
can humbly hang with the classics…
Thanks for the interview, Jeff — you and the band are off to a great start!