November 18, 2015
By David Obenour
Dave Heumann has an unmistakable voice. Its full and smooth baritone feels somehow lost in time – like it came from a thrift store bin, off of a LP without a sleeve. For the last thirteen years, that voice has been most directly tied to the band he leads, Arbouretum. But 2014 saw that band taking a year-long hiatus and nearly a year after, Heumann has released his first solo album, Here in the Deep.
While Heumann’s singing remains recognizable for the new album, the songs reach out from Arbouretum’s framework. Folk, country, a few of the psychedelic reelings of shoegaze, all enter into the songwriting for an exploratory but well-tailored collection.
Dave recently answered a few of our questions about the future of his solo music and Arbouretum.
Ghettoblaster: Why did Arbouretum go on hiatus?
Dave Heumann: It was mainly to focus on personal projects and endeavors that everyone wanted to spend more time with. We were feeling a little burned out at the end of 2013 and needed some time to refocus. I think that’s worked out well.
GB: When the hiatus was decided on, did you immediately think of doing a solo album or was it more a result of growing restless?
DH: It was not long after the hiatus was decided. I’d had the thought of doing a solo album for a while because I’d at times have song ideas that didn’t seem too Arbouretum-y. With us taking a break for a while, it created an opportunity for me to really pursue the idea.
GB: Was most of Here in the Deep written recently or are these songs that you’ve had for awhile?
DH: There are a couple songs that went back a few years, which I hadn’t finished until the motivation happened to do the record. Others were written not long before the sessions themselves, and with some of them, I wrote the lyrics only after the instrumental tracks were recorded.
GB: Here in the Deep works so well as an album, are there songs you wrote that you didn’t feel fit the sound of what you wanted in a solo album?
DH: Thanks. There were definitely some ideas I’d had that didn’t make the cut, mainly because I felt the direction they were going in wasn’t necessarily what I wanted the record to be. I believe I kept more than I threw out, though.
GB: Would a second solo album be a continuation of Here in the Deep or do you see these projects as ways to explore all of the ideas that otherwise wouldn’t have homes in your body of work?
DH: I’m not certain what it would be if I did another. At one point before I started this, I’d thought of doing a record entirely of folk songs. I still might do that, but I’m not planning on having it be the very next thing.
GB: You worked with a lot of people for this record, Lower Dens’ Walker Teret, Mike Kuhl, Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner, Hans Chew, John Parish handling production – could you see any of these collaborations going further out than just this album?
DH: Sure. Walker and I have played together on and off for years. Mike and I play pretty regularly, and it was definitely great working with the others you’ve listed.
GB: The musical difference is definitely apparent, but when it came to the lyrics did you approach these songs any differently then you would have with the band?
DH: A little, yeah. Rob Wilson helped with a couple of them as he has with Arboureum songs in the past, though this time it was in more of an advisory role. I find myself with Arbouretum songs taking on something of a transpersonal perspective, while these songs feel slightly more down-to-earth, while still not being entirely personal. The exception to this would be “Holly King on a Hill”, which is sort of a rumination on the solstices and Druidic myth surrounding them.
GB: Have Corey, Brian or Matthew talked to you at all about the record? Not to ask you to speak directly for them, but I’d be interested in knowing if you’ve had any conversations about the album.
DH: Yes. We talked about it when I was putting it together, and in fact they all play on the song “Ends of the Earth”, which has been a frequent staple of our live sets since 2013 when it was written. I just presented it as something I felt I needed to work on during our downtime, and everyone has been pretty supportive of it. Matthew is actually part of this European tour that I’m on right now, which is great.
GB: Is there anything you think that you’ll take from working on this album into the next Arbouretum?
DH: Yes. It doesn’t mean I’ll even go for trying to write similar songs with the band or anything, but I’ve felt that bringing these songs to life was a prerequisite for getting my head around writing songs with Arbouretum again, imagining the kinds of spaces that they can occupy.
GB: Do you think Arbouretum will play these songs live or are they very separate projects in your mind?
DH: I think we’ll do some of them, but maybe not all of them. I think about how Jerry Garcia went on to play several songs from his first solo record with the Dead. It could perhaps make sense for me in a similar way.
GB: What’s 2016 look like for you and the band?
DH: Hopefully recording early in the year, and touring extensively to support it later in the year. I hope it’s a big year for us!