Soul Asylum recently celebrated the group's twentieth anniversary with a show at First Avenue in Minneapolis. "It was extremely touching," says singer/guitarist Dave Pirner. "It seemed like First Avenue was overflowing with love. I'm getting emotional just thinking about it. I really couldn't get a grip on the fact that we had been together for that long."
Now that the balloons are popped and the champagne bottles drained, Soul Asylum are back doing what's kept the group together these last two decades: writing new music. "We don't know where or when we're going to put this out," says Pirner of the five songs finished so far during self-produced sessions in New Orleans and Minneapolis. "The stuff that's finished is kind of a typical smattering of styles. Some of it is loud, fast and aggressive, and some of it is really introspective and sounds like I was born in a barn."
After releasing a pair of platinum-plus albums (Grave Dancers Union and Let Your Dim Light Shine) 1998's Candy From a Stranger hit with a thud and Soul Asylum were unceremoniously relieved of their contractual obligations to Columbia Records.
"It's sort of sad to say, but you could see the whole grunge-rock-band thing getting totally over-saturated and people were looking for something new," Pirner says. "We needed to reassess how far we've gone and how much further we're going to go and which way we want to go and what we do right and what we do wrong. It was kind of time to take inventory."
While taking stock, Pirner recorded a solo album in his adopted hometown of New Orleans, the tentatively titled "Mudd," which Pirner hopes to have out in June of 2002.
"It's a little more personable," Pirner says. "I don't know if 'personal' is the right word, but 'personable' might be. It's somewhat groove-oriented and a little less loud guitar-oriented. Some of it's pretty laid back I guess. It attempts to be more inviting [rather] than hitting you over the head."
With songs like "Faces and Names," Pirner says he tried to stretch his songwriting and let outside influences seep in. "It's a story song, which is something I really like to pursue, because it's difficult to really get a story across that's a little bit more than I woke up and had lunch," says Pirner. "This rhythm and cadence of words is probably influenced by being in New Orleans and using that rhythm as a backdrop and adding my thing over it. I wasn't quite sure I could do it."