Soul man finds rhythm of life in the Big Easy
Dave Pirner, centre, with Soul Asylum. Picture: Supplied.

Living in New Orleans gives Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner all the inspiration he needs. The singer for the alt-rockers, best known for their 1993 Grammy-winning single Runaway Train, has been living in the Big Easy for almost 14 years.

His particular fascination with rhythms, which he has learnt about in the city which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, formed the songwriting bedrock for the band's latest album, Delayed Reaction.

It's Soul Asylum's 11th album, their first since 2006's The Silver Lining.

A call from drummer Michael Bland, who used to play with Prince, got Pirner to Los Angeles to record, though at the time he didn't know if they were working on material for Soul Asylum or a solo album.

"We had a ball of a time," Pirner says. "No one was looking over my shoulder, which didn't give it a time line.

"The band were judge, jury and executioner of the material."

The singer wrote all the songs on Delayed Reaction but says it's a fairly democratic process as to where they go once everyone starts working on a track. At the same time it was treacherous ground as the band had to keep an eye on the prize in order to actually finish it.

"I started on this one when the last one was finished but I'd record five songs on the west coast and then go into another studio and do just one," Pirner says. "It was arduous doing it on a budget that didn't exist."

They also recorded in Minneapolis but the recording sessions in New Orleans were at Pirner's own studio.

It's where he works on other projects and has also written for movies including Chasing Amy, Clerks and Justice.

"I really, really enjoy working on movies. Sometimes work like that is easier to get if you are in LA hustling but I usually take those jobs when they come my way.

"I'm producing a record for someone else at the moment and spend all the time I have here in the studio."

Given music has been his labour of love since Soul Asylum formed in Minneapolis in 1983, Pirner also has a long-time local trio that he plays drums with and sings.

He says drumming, which he doesn't do in Soul Asylum, is part of what connects him to New Orleans.

He feels instinctively that rhythms are part of the fibre of the city.

While he calls Bland "the greatest drummer in the world", Pirner says studying and teaching drumming is a lifelong adventure.

He regards it as a primal part of life which makes him feel good.

Pirner started playing trumpet as a kid and continues to play that too, another instrument closely linked to the music of New Orleans.

'We had a ball of a time.

The band were judge, jury and


of the material.' Dave Pirner

The West Australian

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