Dave Scarbrough – Happy Ever After (Q&A)
“Do I look for another stressful job right now or should I relax, meditate, and think about where my head and my soul really want to go?”, Dave Scarbrough asked himself in early 2021. The answer became Happy Ever After, which is by far the most played record of the past month here at Sweet Sweet Music headquarters.
If you like the latest Elvis Costello record, you’ll love this one!
What was the moment you knew you were on to something?
A long time ago. I’ve been writing and recording since I was in middle school. But this project was/is the first to really go the distance and incorporate the best musicians I could find – not just in my native Sioux Falls, but worldwide – to make this album truly magical and something I felt was worthy to throw into the giant hat of thousands upon thousands of other artists who have put the same amount of effort into their releases.
How did this record come together?
I was laid off from a Systems Administration job back in February of 2021, where I was paid handsomely. I also accrued some savings, so the question was, “Do I look for another stressful job right now or should I relax, meditate, and think about where my head and my soul really want to go?” I decided to take a year off and make this record. It was time.
When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?
Throughout the entire process from day one I was getting advice from people in the industry, professional musicians from all different worlds like classical, punk, power-pop and country. Initially I recorded scratch demos of about 30 songs. Everything was pared down from there, per the recommendations of these professionals that I respect very highly.
The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?
If I break even – money wise – I will have done something I can be proud of and not have to be in debt because of the attempt. Success for me is the result of some great people with good taste purchasing the record and telling me that they really like it. Good enough for me.
How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?
It is always there. It’s in my dreams, it’s in my everyday living – when things are quiet and all of the sudden a great melody comes into my head and I have to pause and pull out my iPhone and record the thing that just popped into my brain onto “Voice Memos.” I still have around 40 of these memos that I have not done anything with yet. Will I do something with them at some time? I don’t know. But they keep coming.
As an artist, you choose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?
Yes. In the past it has made me look like a fool sometimes – “wearing my heart on my sleeve,” but I have never been uncomfortable sharing my deepest and darkest emotions and feelings with the general public.
You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?
Declan Patrick Aloysious McManus (Elvis Costello), Glenn Tillbrook (Squeeze), Dave Grohl. My rocking stuff I can totally see Grohl going nuts on it and getting excited, and Tilbrook and Costello just – well – they have been a giant inspiration for me over the years – both from their amazing chord structures and changes and delightful surprises, and their exceptional wordsmith skills.
What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?
I was in a band called The Harvesters back in 1996. We were the first band from South Dakota to ever play South By SouthWest (SXSW)in Austin, TX. During our second song, Iggy Pop and his entourage walked by the front stage and Iggy looked up at me and gave me a giant thumbs-up. Best rock and roll moment ever. At least for me.
Lyrics are too often taken for granted. What is the line of text or are the lines of text that you hope listeners will remember? And why?
“You and your theology and me and my bad poetry – we both want a better world for all.” Lost a great girlfriend to a divinity school in Boston. But I think we were – and are – looking for the same thing – peace, meaning, and joy in the human condition.
When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?
A song called “Isabella Mae” I wrote some 25 years ago – It was like, “HOLY SMOKES! This is power-pop-perfect!”
Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?
A mixtape of fave songs that are not mine? Hmmm. Billy Bragg “Sexuality” (Manchester Mix), Simple Minds “Brass Band in African Chimes” (12″ extended version), The Church “Ripple,” Jesus and Mary Chain “Never Understand,” and maybe “Pieds-en-l’air,” from “Capriol Suite” by Peter Warlock.
(Here you can listen to Dave’s mixtape.)
Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?
E N E R G Y . There is nothing greater than playing for an audience that took the trouble to come out and see you, and they are excited, and there is so much love and good karma flowing, so many smiles, and you get to turn your amps up a little hotter than you usually do – that’s key for me. 😉
If you could tour the world with two other bands, who would you ask, and why?
Costello and/or Foo Fighters
What compliment you once received will you never forget?
My old college roommate in Budapest called me a Mensch.
What place do you occupy in the music industry?
If you could pick three singers to sing harmony vocals on your next record, who would you ask?
Alison Krause, Elvis Costello, Glenn Tilbrook
The record is done, the music is out. Is the best fun done now or is it just beginning?
Just the beginning.