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A Conversation with David Mead

[I began our conversation by recounting our recent meeting at a little club in Nashville where I was playing a gig along with our mutual friends Joe Pisapia and Swan Dive, and Leslie Riley.]

Puremusic: So Indiana, wow, it's a major work. It's a beautiful record. I'm so proud of you. Congratulations.

David Mead: Thank you!

PM: And it's some time in the making, it's easy to see.

DM: Yeah, but it actually took much longer than usual just because I toured a lot last year while we were making it. So it really took almost an entire year, but we never worked for more than four days at a time, probably. It was a luxury to work that way, because you got to take plenty of time off from recording and having your head in that space. You could back off for a little while and then evaluate things and come back to it. So it was cool.

PM: And obviously you literally change over that year's time, and you come out with a more evolved recording, inevitably.

DM: Sure.

PM: Although I've known of you for some time, this is really, I'm sorry to say, the first record of yours with which I've become very familiar. But for our readers who may know even less than I did, perhaps we can sketch a little bit of your musical journey so far. For instance, I'm not sure where you come from.

DM: I was born in New York--Long Island--and moved around quite a bit when I was a kid. We mostly lived in the south. And I settled in Nashville in, let's see, it would have been '87, I guess. Then I moved back to New York City in '97. And now I've moved back to Nashville, as you know.

PM: Got it.

DM: And I hang out at the 5-Spot on occasion. Although, you know, I still haven't actually been back there since that night.

PM: No, neither have I. Just busy...

DM: I really like that place.

PM: Yeah, it's a good little room. And were you not one of the founding members of one of my favorite bands, Joe, Marc's Brother? [That's Joe and Mark Pisapia on guitar and drums, and James "Hags" Haggerty on bass. Joe has been out with Guster a lot lately, and the rhythm section has been on world tour with Josh Rouse.]

DM: I guess you could call me a founding member. I think they played as a three-piece for a while before I came on. But I was definitely in version 1.0 for a very thrilling three years or so.

PM: [laughs] And was there a recording during your tenure with them?

DM: No. Theoretically, there wasn't. They had finished their record called the Debut of before I joined the band. And we did some demos for a few record companies along the way, but it was nothing that was ever released.

PM: Right. So you came to Nashville in '87--when did the Pisapias come and how did you hook up with those guys?

DM: I think they moved here around '93. I had been living in Florida for a while, and had moved back, and just wasn't really sure what to do with myself. And I had heard about them because they were making a name for themselves around town. And their manager at the time was a mutual friend, Rick Clark. You might know him. He still lives over in East Nashville.

PM: Oh, sure. Yeah, he's a buddy of mine. [See our review of Rick's fabulous book, The Expert Encyclopedia of Recording.]

DM: So he and I saw the band, or I just came to one of their shows once, and I thought it was great. They were looking for a fourth member, a second guitarist and backup vocalist or whatever, so I just kind of weaseled my way into it eventually.

PM: Wow. And how did it come to pass, then, after your tenure with them, that you moved on to a solo career?

DM: Well, I think part of that breakup, which was, for the most part, pretty amicable, was them basically telling me--well, by the end of my time with the band, and probably something that contributed to its demise, I was writing and we were playing my songs as well as Joe's songs. And it really wasn't what Joe and Marc had set out to do. Although it was definitely working on a lot of levels, it just wasn't really what they wanted to be doing.

They were familiar with the songs that I'd been writing since I'd been in the band, and they basically pushed me out the door. They were like, "We really think it's time that you start doing this yourself. You've got great songs and everything, but it just doesn't quite line up with what we want to do." So I give them a lot of credit for that. I kind of went kicking and screaming at the time, but once I did it... I guess I sort of booked myself into a residency at Guido's Pizzeria. I don't know if that still exists or not.

PM: It's still around, yeah.

DM: Okay. And I started playing a lot of stuff from this back catalog of songs that I had.

PM: Started playing them solo or with a couple of guys or...?

DM: No, I was just playing solo at that time. And I just sort of worked stuff out there, and met my current manager, through that process.

PM: And who is that?

DM: His name is Kip Krones. And so he and I put our heads together and tried to focus the direction of everything a little bit. And once we did, I went in and cut some demos. Kip got them to record labels, and I got signed to RCA, and did two records for them which were released, and a third one which has yet to be. That relationship came to an end in, I guess, the beginning of last year. Indiana kind of came about as a byproduct of that, because I had done this record and turned it in right as RCA merged with another huge record label. So basically, anybody who hadn't sold 500,000 records [laughs] at that point was kind of let go.

I was worried that I wouldn't get my record back and decided to go ahead and start making another one in the meantime so that I could have it ready to put out myself. I didn't want too much time to go by. But then, once that was all done, it turned out that I felt more comfortable with where Indiana was at, as opposed to the record that was unreleased. And so when we did a new deal with Nettwerk, Indiana was the one that we went for. continue

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