A guest post courtesy of the virtual pen of Gareth Ware
As the ever-reliable beatkeeping presence to Courtney Barnett throughout her ascendency, it would be easy to forgive Dave Mudie for going to ground in the twelve months since – save for a brief spell in South America – the band’s frantic touring wound down via European festival shows last summer. But in typical style for someone who can claim involvement in dozens of projects, he’s continued to kick some serious goals, be it via playing guitar in garage-rock outfit Gumboot, bass in Baby Blue, or producing the recent EP by Jade Imagine.
As if all that wasn’t enough, he also recently launched his own solo project under the moniker L.A. Mood. First surfacing on the Split Singles Club project co-curated by Bedroom Suck and Milk! Records (the latter the entity founded and run by Barnett), ‘Virgin Song’ came armed with a potent mix of louche charm and cocksure swagger with its bluesy stomp being augmented with star turns on backing vocals and slide guitar. Released through new label Hotel Motel (run by Jo Syme of Australian Music Prize-winning Big Scary), the ensuing EP Crushing Highs And Amazing Lows has seen Mudie present a succinct 4-track vision for his latest endeavour that takes in charging power-pop, waltzing country and hazy slacker rock, all joined an unshakeably accomplished feel that belies the fact it’s his début release as a solo songwriter. Here, we talk about L.A Mood’s genesis, juggling projects, and plans his for the future.
GW: When did you first start considering striking out on your own as a songwriter making the EP? Was it an idea that started coming together during all of your recent time on the road or was it something you decided upon on a much more immediate, impulsive level?
Well I’ve been writing and tinkering with songs for about 10 years now, and with all of the recording and touring I’ve been doing with Courtney over the last few years I thought I should get into a studio I really liked (Revolver Studios in Portland OR) and start the process of recording an EP. I’m a bit of a gear nerd and this place has some incredible gear.
GW: To refer to but a fraction of the 40 or so(!) bands you’re involved in, you play drums (CB3), guitar (Gumboot), bass (Baby Blue) and you have been involved with the production of the Jade Imagine EP. To what extent do you think being involved with all these musical projects has helped you see things more holistically when songwriting and how do you think that’s manifested itself on the record?
I guess working with so many people really gives you a great insight into different approaches to music writing, performance and recording. You can kind of sift through all of these influences and great ideas and learn and borrow things that click with you personally and apply it to your own project.
GW: When I was over in February I spoke to [Jade Imagine’s] Jade McInnally about how seemingly everyone in Melbourne is involved with several projects at once and how it appears to really help the city to thrive musically. Is that something you agree with and how do you think being musically polyamorous has helped you develop and sharpen your own skills?
Yeah definitely, everyone helps each other out recording and playing with each other, sharing show bills and helping on releases. It’s helped make Melbourne an amazing melting pot of music.
It’s helped me immensely as I’ve had the chance to mix and produce some of my favourite bands.
GW: Something else to crop up while talking to Jade was her describing that despite being involved with numerous projects she felt an inner conflict in the way that up to making her EP she’d been playing a role in someone else’s project and not creating something herself. Is that an inner conflict you’ve experienced on any level and has it fuelled your desire to make this record at all?
Not so much, I couldn’t make the music I wanted to without the help from my friends and family, and I always look to collaborate with people to make music that’s inclusive and imaginative.
GW: The two things that stand out on the record are the fact that despite there being a range of styles on show there’s also a concise, consistent aesthetic, and an underlying confidence that belies the fact it’s a début release. Was there a conscious aim to try and create a sense of cohesion on the record (as opposed to the scattergun approach favoured by others) or was it borne from having a well-suited collection of songs that complimented each other?
It was funny how the song choice came about, I probably have over 50 demos at home recorded on everything from tape to computer and just sorted shuffled through them until I found some kind of cohesive song list. ‘Virgin Song’ is the first song I ever wrote and wanted to get the older songs finished and out in the world before releasing some new tunes.
GW: For many it’ll seem difficult to imagine you spending most of the last three years on thew road with Courtney and not (even subconsciously) picking up some songwriting cues along the way. How would you describe the similarities and differences between your styles, and what was it like turning the tables and having her help you realise your own project?
Courtney is such amazing songwriter and human, she’s basically influenced everything I’ve done musically and in my life for the last few years so when I was writing these songs I guess parts would come up were I could hear her guitar or voice and luckily for me she agreed to play on it.
GW: Do you feel there’s a lyrical theme running through the EP at all and if is it in line with how you thought it would turn out when you started writing it? In general do you think you’ve made the EP you thought you were going to when you started working on it?
I guess the underlying theme would be about believing in yourself, dealing with self doubt and everyday problems but finding a solution to those things. Oh and also finding a lost cat 🙂
GW: Your EP marks one of the first on the new Hotel Motel label. Given that the L.A. Mood project itself is in a relatively early stage, has it been daunting or exciting to also release it on a new label and to some degree helping shape people’s perceptions of it?
Its extremely exciting to be releasing my music through Hotel Motel, Jo Syme from Big Scary runs the label and puts so much hard work and experience into her role. She is seriously inspired and an amazing drummer to boot.
GW: Do you view L.A. Mood as something to dabble in when you’re not touring or something you’d like to develop further in the future, and if the latter what plans/dreams do you have for it going forward?
I definitely want to develop L.A. mood further, I’m heading back to Portland to record the follow up EP in August then hopefully will start playing live once I have more than 4 songs in the set.
I also want to release an album next year, I’ve got a few sneaky collaborations I’m working on that will be exciting.
Crushing Highs & Amazing Lows is out now via Hotel Motel. Click HERE for more information on LA Mood.