Yeovil based singer / songwriter Dave Woan has recently released his debut album 'Down Side Up', produced and engineered by Antix Music Network.
The 11 track album shows off the writing and performance talent of the Antix Acoustic regular performer, and is already making movements on social media.
We sent our very own Paul Harmer to catch up with Dave about his latest release.
Paul Harmer: Good afternoon, Dave, thanks for taking the time to speak to us! First things first; this album, Down Side Up, has been a while in the making - What took you so long lol?
Dave Woan: Good afternoon, Paul. Thank you for asking me; it’s a real pleasure. A combination of things really; the pandemic, day job requirements, and other not-for-profit work; all of which conspired to slow everything down.
Paul: Having been in the same room and briefly listening when you were producing some of this album, I think I’m right in saying that some of these songs are based on your travels, your personal life and probably the way the world appears to you after experiencing what we have all done over the last few years; you must have a favourite song to perform and possibly a different one that means the most to you from a writing perspective?
Dave: My stand-out favourite has to be Broken. Lyrically, Broken is all about flowering back to life with the help of another, after a bad time. It’s a theme which affected me on a very personal level, but people have commented on how it talks to all of us, as a reminder of how life can be. The version on the album is marked out by Ben Roberts’ really dark cello performance, so a big thank you to Ben, for setting the tone which absolutely nails the song. Broken is a really powerful song; even after performing it for several years, it still gives me chills, and sometimes it takes all my strength to get through the vocals without breaking down.
Paul: When being interviewed a lot of people will be asked to go down the route of naming their influences, I am guilty of doing that and its just pure lazy.. and to be honest, I will probably be asking that later, but, when you had this album in mind and the production that goes into it, are there elements, styles or artists that you wanted NOT to be like in any way at all?
Dave: Good question, Paul! Writing is very often pinching ideas from other artists. A lot of my inspiration comes from listening parts in a single song, such as the chord progression, and thinking ‘what if it was done another way?’ I then seem to spend a lot of time shaping the song so that it doesn’t sound like someone else’s work!
Paul: This isn’t the first time we have done an interview together as you appeared on the Air 107.2's 'The Lounge' prior to Covid etc and if I remember rightly some of the language was a little 'fruity' which I am always completely happy with... Obviously a LOT has happened since then. so, in your own words (fruity or otherwise) can you tell me how the last few years have affected you, the way you look at the world now and can you tell me one thing that has changed for the better and one thing that has changed for the worst?
Dave: Strangely, nothing has changed in my outlook on life; I’m an ‘optimistic realist’, and philosophical. What goes around tends to come around. I just do the best I can in everything I apply myself to and take each day one at a time. That said; I can get very passionate about life, and occasionally my language can get a bit…‘fruity’!
Paul: It’s good to get an idea of an Artists 'head-space' when talking about their music and as we all know, much has changed, so I assume you have a back catalogue of songs that may have initially been meant for this album that never made it. How did you decide what was going on the album and how many c albums could you potentially make out of those that didn’t make Down Side Up?
Dave: In addition to the eleven on Down Side Up, I have a back catalogue of twenty-five playable songs; enough for another two albums! Down Side Up sparked into life when Frazer asked to record a song Angel, which I’d almost thrown on the scrap heap. Ironically, Angel never made the final cut for Down Side Up, but maybe next time around? Frazer, Tim Fawkes, and I, ran a rather brutal ‘beauty parade’ for all my songs, and the end result was the eleven on Down Side Up.
Paul: Can I recommend 'This Way Up' for the name of the next album of songs that didn’t make it onto Down Side Up lol!!?
Dave: I see what you did there; we’ll have to see!
Paul: You have worked with a few local artists when producing this album. Is there anyone else locally that you haven’t had the chance to work with that you would like to if the opportunity ever arose?
Dave: I’ve already sounded out several musical friends, professionals and amateurs, locally and elsewhere. My former Smoking Gun bandmate and writing partner Si Nicholls is still musically active, and now running a B&B in upstate New York. Despite the distance, we still talk about a collaboration. Si has a superb voice; he writes in a very similar style, and we have co-written several songs, one of which, Locked in Chains made it onto Down Side Up. Check out Saw it On The TV which Si & I co-wrote in 2011 when we were together in Smoking Gun.
Paul: I’m nearly done ;) ...what advice would you give to anyone who is looking to break into the performing business? It is notoriously difficult to 'make it' at an international level but everyone has to start somewhere... Any tips?
Dave: I’m still to set the world on fire (LOL), but as someone who’s still around doing what I love, my advice is: Be true to yourself – write and perform to please yourself. Be passionate, be persistent, and always be listening and learning.
Paul: I know you are proud of this album; what music inspires you to write the way you do and who are your musical heroes?
Dave: The guy who made me rush out and buy my first guitar was blues legend Rory Gallagher. Bruce Springsteen showed me how to mix musical skill with performance, and to tell stories with my words. Others have influenced along the way: Neil Young was a massive influence; as were Nick Drake and John Martyn. REM, Stereophonics, Radiohead, Bowie, Paul Simon, Johnny Flynn, and many others go into the mix, and what comes out (I guess) is an amalgam of these artists.
Paul: Finally, where can people get hold of the album and what are you planning to do next?
Dave: Down Side Up is streaming on Spotify, the CDs are on order, I have promotional gigs coming up at Home Farm Festival, and HMV Yeovil, and of course there’s the launch party gig on 16th June at The Emporium Café, Yeovil. What next? Start putting ideas and musicians together for the second album. Down Side Up started as just me and the acoustic guitar, and the ideas just kept on coming. The second album may be more of a ‘band’ effort
Frazer Mitchell - Producer, DJ, and Events Coordinator at Antix Music Network