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.

The Jerrys – Ready or Not

The Jerrys play British-influenced guitar pop written by Jerry Schwartz, who also plays, sings, and produces their music.

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Jerry about a wild stop-start ending, The Shadows, and a raga and a country song.

Love Me Now and Leave Me Never is such a classy song.  That must have become clear to you somewhere during the writing process or does it not work that way?

Thank you for that! I wish I could take more credit, but after deciding to write a Bond theme song, it nearly wrote itself. I wanted large crashes of sound, a sitar reminiscent of the (Beatles’) Help! soundtrack, a guitar solo that sounded like Johnny Rivers, and a wild stop-start ending. There are also certain musical elements that make a song a Bond song, and those needed to be there as well. It was like putting a large puzzle together after first creating all the pieces.

U.S. 41 Groove is an instrumental, so nice, you will compared to The Shadows, I suppose. What’s the story behind that song?

Thanks again–I love The Shadows! There’s a section of U.S. 41 between Chicago IL and Evansville IN that I’ve driven hundreds of times, and that’s after my parents used to drive us on the same route when I was a kid. That stretch of several hundred miles gives you a lot of time to think, and I wanted to write a song that shared that feeling of cruising along thinking about life. There are no words to describe that feeling, so I didn’t write any.

Does that ‘60 ‘fuzzy/psych Pop- sound come naturally when you start writing and recording?

I don’t think about it much when I’m writing, as I’m focused on the music and maybe the words at that point. I get more into actual sound when I start recording. I try to create music that I’d like to hear on the radio, and by default those sounds are influenced by the bands I grew up with. On a related note, I wrote a raga and a country song for Ready or Not, and neither of those songs came naturally!

How did Ready or Not come about?

A couple of months before the pandemic, I gave up my career and started recording another album. I’d barely started when I had to put my studio in storage between moves. My wife and I had sold our house but hadn’t found another yet, so we lived with my father-in-law for a few months. By the time we found a place of our own and settled in, I joked the album would have to be released “ready or not,” which is where the title came from.

The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?

Success for the new album would be finding more people who dig what we do. I love the feeling I get when I hear a new sound I like, and I hope there are people out there who get that feeling from listening to a song by The Jerrys. Future success involves bringing Robert Porche’ (drummer) back into the mix with me and Jim (Jim Losby plays all the bass guitar on Ready or Not). Robert does not appear on the new album, but he’ll be rejoining us shortly. 

Man Behind Tree – 3 (Q&A)

The German band Man Behind Tree has four singers and no frontman. That has been going very well for three records now. Hans Forster explains how that works.

Pieces of Power Pop, Jangle, Dream Pop, and Shoegaze combined with beautiful harmony vocals. It’s all there. How did this sound originate, or does it just happen when the four of you get started? 

It all started back in the late ’90s in a small town in Northern Bavaria. Me and my friend Andi deciding that we were done with trying to be as innovative as possible but wanted to play the music we like the most, no matter if people might call it anachronistic: Noisepop, Janglepop, Powerpop, Manchester Rave – music from at least a decade ago, melodious and very guitarish. Our band Seaside Stars is still around. Greg of Man Behind Tree is in that band, and Sutti was for a while.

Later in Berlin, we were lucky to find like-minded people in our bass players. First Sylvain with strong roots in Shoegaze, then two guys that came here from Chicago: Sean and Graham. They had this amazing band, Mincer Ray, with multivocal harmonies and a DIY spirit the same as we had, so we started collaborating, and when Mincer Ray split, the guys ended up in Man Behind Tree.

How did ‘3’ come about?

Though maybe not officially, „3“ is our third album, as we regard our initial home recordings, published without a record label, as an album too. This first one is also on Bandcamp, so it’s a decent record release for us. And personally, I like numbers as album titles: the first two Van Halen, Beach Boys’ 20/20, Teenage Fanclub – 13 …

When I first listened to ‘3’ I didn’t expect to start dancing spontaneously the third time I heard Don’t Lose Grip. Would you take that as a compliment?

Definitely a compliment! I guess the guy described in the song would see it differently. Waking up, he realizes that his girlfriend has left him again to explore the world. He’s more the sleepy sort, whereas she’s always looking out for the new and exciting. He wishes her all the best in the end, just hoping nothing bad happens to her.

Still, the guy in the story’s a little sad. But why not dance to a melancholic song if the beat is alright?

The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?

I’m definitely not a success expert. Having not much of it over the years, we’ve learned to focus on the music and its joy. The market, product and sales, and fame take place entirely on a different planet.

It’s nice and cozy in our little musical world. Still, we’re amazed and happy when people we don’t know listen to our songs. Next to the music itself, this is what keeps us going. So, success with the new record is all about spreading the word.

That singing together must be a joy to do, right?

That’s absolutely true. Puts a smile on our faces mostly. Even more so when we’re doing it surrounded by overdriven guitar sound (you miss the flat notes in all that noise ;-).

Sometimes singing together seems to alter the mental state, like creating collectivity or like meditation, maybe which I’ve never really tried. Also, I’ve never played in a frontman-led band, and I guess I’ll keep it that way.

The first episode of the Sweet Sweet Music blog PODCAST is live. Listen and follow us on Spotify!