Punknews.org, circa April 2012
SCOTT: Hi everyone, we're here interviewing Davey von Bohlen, solo artist and former singer/guitarist of the Promise Ring. Say hello, Davey.
DAVEY: Hello, Davey.
S: Very funny.
D: Thanks, I try.
S: So anyways, I'm here interviewing you mainly because this month marks the 10th anniversary of your old band's landmark release, "Wood/Water."
D: Oh gee, that old thing? I forgot all about it. [laughs]
S: Rrrright. Did you ever in your wildest dreams realize how popular this album would become in the independent scene? It seems like every band worth it's salt credits that album for their formation, and it's hard to doubt them. Coming from personal experience, that album changed my life.
S: Yeah. Every successive time I listened to the album, I appreciated it even more. I was not a big fan of "Very Emergency" at all, and after I heard the "Electric Pink" EP I thought you guys were done for. But this album... wow.
D: Thanks a lot, I'm still humbled by all the success it has received. I mean, sure it went gold, but that took 8 years. [laughs]
S: It seems like all the most important albums don't get noticed for a while - the Ramones never had a gold record, Weezer's "Pinkerton" only went gold after 5 or 6 years...
S: But enough about everyone else, I want to talk about this album! After 10 years, it's still in heavy rotation in my stereo. I still reel in surprise every time I hear your "new" singing voice in the album opener "Size Of Your Life." Sure, you revert back to the Davey of old for the rest of the album except closer "Feed The Night," but it's a pleasant change.
D: My biggest fear was that people would chastise me for singing differently than I always had, that's why I only tried it on two tracks. There's actually some demos floating around of other songs off that album with me singing in the "new" voice, it's a trip to hear.
S: Wow, I'll have to go looking for those. Now, about the second track, "Stop Playing Guitar" - I still laugh every time I hear you sing the lines "If I had a dime for every time I had stopped playing guitar and put my nose in a book, then my head would be healthy, my guitar would be dusty, and that just might save me from a bunch of bad songs." I can honestly say that myself and thousands more people are glad that you didn't hang it up. The songs on "Wood/Water" have by far withstood the test of time.
D: Thanks, thanks a lot.
S: Were you ever worried about what your old fans would think about the album?
D: Oh, all the time. When we were recording it, we all kind of knew that this was going to be more than just a temporary departure from our old sound. We had evolved - or devolved, depending on who you ask - into a basic pop band. There was nowhere else for us to go except outside the realm of what we had been doing. So... we did it. We spent six straight weeks in England recording that record. Before that it was rare if we got six *days* in the studio. With all that time, we finally realized that we didn't have to cater to anyone with this record.
S: As I said in my initial review of the record 10 years ago, "The Promise Ring is dead; long live the Promise Ring."
D: [laughes] That's a good one. But it's true.
S: It is. Take tracks like "Become One Anything One Time," "My Life Is At Home," and "Bread and Coffee" - melodies these lush had never appeared in your songwriting before. Whenever I hear "Wake Up April," I get shivers. It's obvious that the song was a point of transition for the band - I hear that song and close my eyes and imagine that you guys wrote that trying to find some kind of peace in the recording process.
D: Wow, you're right on with that assessment. That's probably my favorite track on the record, personally.
S: It's one of mine. Of course, I couldn't interview you without mentioning the song *everyone* talked about - "Say Goodbye Good." What was that?
D: [laughs] Haha, I loved it.
S: I love it too, but man, that last minute or so with the spacey effects and a gospel singer... To me, that signaled that the Promise Ring of old was definitely gone forever.
D: Yeah, that was a big turning point for us, too. After we made that track, we knew there was no turning back. [laughs]
S: Oh man, we're already out of time, you have to go do soundcheck. I had so much more I wanted to talk about: the sheer pop genius of "Get On The Floor," the Flaming Lips influence in "Suffer Never," th-
D: Hey, it's okay, man. Catch us on the "Wood/Water Reunion Tour" in another 10 years, we'll finish it then. [laughs]
S: Don't kid about that, I'd pay big bucks to see the Ring in concert again. Well, thanks again for this rare chance to pick your brains, and thanks again for sculpting one of the most beautiful masterpieces of the last 10 years.
Stop Playing Guitar
Get On The Floor
Say Goodbye Good
Punknews.org, circa April 2012