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Dave Hause on stripping back his sound and paying tribute to the Dillinger Four

Dave Hause
(Image credit: Burak Cingi/Redferns)

Punks aren't known to follow rules, and one entrenched tradition in particular had been rubbing punk rocker-turned-solo artist Dave Hause the wrong way. “In hip-hop, there’s a lot more freedom and a lot more reckless abandon, and within rock ’n’ roll there’s this paradigm of, put out a record [and then] tour,” rinse and repeat, he explains.

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke that album-tour cycle in 2020, the former frontman of the Loved Ones, now four albums deep into a solo career, recorded a pair of EPs, Patty and Paddy, that reimagine the songs of Patty Griffin and Patrick “Paddy” Costello of Dillinger Four. Recorded without his backing band and augmented by guests including Lilly Hiatt, Brian Fallon and his brother and collaborator Tim Hause, the twin releases are a departure from his brand of post-Replacements, Tom Petty-inspired, blue-collar rock.

Hause renders Patty Griffin’s delicate songwriting Billy Bragg style, driven only by his voice and electric guitar, the way he used to play to cut through loud drinking crowds when he opened for bands like Flogging Molly and Social Distortion.

“I started to imagine the Patty songs that way, and they started to work better [for me],” he says. “They were more in my wheel-house, and the songs are certainly sturdy enough to be played any way.”

He relied on two P90-equipped guitars – a 1956 Les Paul Junior he picked up while on tour with Bad Religion just before the pandemic, and a 1961 Epiphone Coronet – played through a 1955 Fender Deluxe amplifier to get the tones “the old-fashioned way,” relying on his guitar’s volume knob to add teeth.

For Paddy, Hause played a pair of recent-era Martins, an OM-21 and a D-35, to recast Dillinger Four’s cerebral, socioeconomic punk as quietly fingerpicked guitar and piano excursions that showcase Costello’s lyrics and melodies.

“[Dillinger Four are] just raucous and crazy, so a lot of Paddy’s insight gets lost,” he says. “And so I said, ‘Well, let me just totally reimagine those and see if I can make it all about his genius,’ which I think is the lyrics.”

The same spirit that freed Hause to record his latest EPs also led him to approach the material he’s writing for his fifth solo album without the constraints and song structures he’s stuck to in the past. “There’s spontaneity there that really is magic.”