Monday, July 4, 2011

Interview with Dave Smalley (DYS, Down by Law, All, Dag Nasty

Dave Smalley is a really cool guy! Not only has he been in a lot of really cool bands, he helped my school fundraiser last year! I hope you like this interview.

(UPDATE by PMAKid's dad: One of Dave's band's - DYS - is playing on Saturday, July 23, 2011 at the Sound & Fury Fest in Santa Barbara. Three days of great bands and a lot of PMA! They are also playing at the famous 924 Gilman in Berkeley on Sunday, July 24, 2011. All should go check DYS on Sunday.)

PMAKid: You have been in the hardcore and punk scene for decades and have played in a lot of bands. Some of your early music was more hardcore, and your more recent stuff is more melodic. Which style to you like more? Do you even like one more than another?

Dave: I like both. I think all human beings are at least a little bit Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, and many of us are downright quadrophenic (Quadrophenia is a classic album by The Who). I think too many times people can get rigid in life, put our blinders on, get locked into one way of thinking, and forget that life has many flavors to savor. I listen to tons of hard rock and metal, like Iron Maiden, Motorhead, etc., but I also listen to Beethoven and Mozart, to Discharge and the Bad Brains, and to Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington. So I think there's merit to both the melodic punk and to the hardcore stuff too.

PMAKid: What are your three favorite songs (by any bands)? Why are they your favorite and what impact did they have on you?

Dave: Honestly, that answer changes year to year, and sometimes day to day. I would say right now, "Hitch a Ride" by Boston, "Whole Lotta Rosie" by AC/DC and "The Magnificent Seven" by The Clash. However, tomorrow it could be "Midnight Rider" by the Allman Bros., "I and I Survive" or "Sailin' On" by the Bad Brains and "Smithers Jones" by The Jam. Another time it might be "You've Got Another Thing Comin' " by Judas Priest, "I Go To Pieces" by Patsy Cline and "Lovesick, Broke and Driftin' " by Hank Williams III. And there's "Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who, or "Male Model" by The Undertones, or virtually every song off the first Specials record. Edwin Starr had some brilliant songs that every time I hear them, I am just blown away -- like just today I was listening to "25 miles" and thinking, this is one of the greatest songs ever written or my list of favorites is ever-shifting.

Here's the key for me: Does it move you? Can you close your eyes and be in another place with that song? Does it stay with you for days, weeks, months after? Are the lyrics describing a part of your own life? Do both the music and the lyrics inspire you? All of those artists I've just named have been able to do that.

PMAKid: What are your three favorite books? Why are they your favorite and what impact did they have on you?

Dave: Kind of a similar answer to the above, but if I had to pick three, right now they would be:
"The Lord of the Rings" trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein (ok, that's three right there)
"Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin (and the rest of the series, too)
There's tons more, too, so they change from time to time -- in recent times I've read or re-read "Moby Dick," chunks of the Bible and "The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" for instance. Like music, different books can affect people in different ways, and that's great.

PMAKid: Do you have kids? If so, what ages and grades are they? What are their favorite books? Right now, my favorites are the Fablehaven series, even though I finished all five of them.

Dave: My kids range in age from 16 to 8. So there's a wide array of favorite books. I think the Harry Potter books are back in vogue around our house these days as the final movie is coming up. My boys really love history books, especially, and also classic comic books -- it's so cool to see them reading the old school Thor, Avengers, Defenders, X-Men, Kid Colt, Sgt. Fury, etc. comic books. That stuff is still great to me, too!

PMAKid: Last year, you were really genrous and helped my school with the Hardcore for Education fundraiser program we had. The money we raised from that heped to pay for our school band teacher. How important do you think music is in grade school? Why is it important?

Dave: Glad to help, and congratulations to you all for doing that. I really think music in school is vital. Some pivotal moments in my life were my childhood scholastic experiences with music -- teachers who found out I could sing, and encouraged me, or teachers who turned me on to music or bands I hadn't yet heard. And, the experience of playing music at a young age really opens up one's mind to different melody in life itself, literally -- like, when you've even played a recorder, or whatever, it becomes a lot easier to hear the beauty in a bird's song, or the quiet tune in a gentle rustle of the wind.
In addition, if we don't help kids get involved in music at a young age, we could very easily miss out on discovering and encouraging the next Gershwin, the next Yo Yo Ma, etc. That would be tragic. So I really hope schools will be able to fund music education all throughout kids' school years.

PMAKid: You work at a newspaper, right? What do you do there and what is really cool about it?

Dave: I work for the entertainment section. We cover all kinds of really cool stuff, and help people find out about new art galleries or upcoming exhibits, ballets, concerts and many other events. It's been super cool -- I've gotten to interview/chat with Motorhead, George Thorogood, Napalm Death and many more, plus cover everything from professional bull riding to opera.

PMAKid: Do you consider yourself (whether or not you use the term) to be keep PMA? How do you stay positive when bad things happen to you or your friends or family?

Dave: I do consider myself to be a positive person. I'd much rather have my energy be focused on trying to make the world a better place, than to be bitter or negative. I actually think it's easier to be positive than negative, to be honest -- it takes way more energy to stay mad at someone, for instance, than it does to say "i forgive you" and move on. But for sure it is not easy to stay positive in the face of great difficulties, sometimes. I think having some sort of religious faith can be helpful for many people, because it kind of puts things in perspective a bit. One really important thing is to have good friends and family that will be there to help you when the hard times come. Because bad times do come, for everyone, at some point. The good part is, the bad times don't last forever.

PMAKid: It is kind of obvious that you love music, and this may be a stupid question, but what does music mean to you?

Dave: Oh man, big question. It is everything to me. Ultimately it's a way to make life more beautiful, more liveable. Even the hardest stuff has a certain magic to it. Music is the one universal language. It's your best friend when the chips are down, and it's better than any energy drink when you're feeling it.

PMAKid: Do you think the hardcore and punk rock scene is better or worse today then it was when you first got into it? Why?

Dave: I think I know my era much better. There are lots of cool bands I've heard in very recent times, so that's awesome. Every generation has great stuff. But it would be almost impossible for me to feel the same way about a new band today as I did about bands that shaped my life in the 1980s. But mad respect to all who are out there trying to make a difference, at any age.

PMAKid: Can you come play a show at my grade school? (Just joking, but do you have any plans to do a tour - even a mini-tour - in California any time soon?

Dave: It would be my honor to play at your grade school, Julian.
DYS is playing in Santa Barbara and San Francisco at the end of this month, so hope to see you there.
Much peace.

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