Monolith Interview – David Moore

It’s been a long time since anyone’s heard from David Moore. The former frontman of Chamberlain and Split Lip returns from a seven-year musical hiatus with My Lover, My Stranger, a record with an epic scope and an uncertain future.

Moore takes the MadeLoud stage at 2:45 p.m. on the Monolith Festival’s second day.

MadeLoud: What's happening with My Lover, My Stranger? Any word on a release date? I've read that it was supposed to be released on Doghouse Records, but their Web site lists you as a "Past Band." What happened there?

David Moore:The record is complete — we spent the better part of last year and the first few months of 2008 recording and putting last touches on the songs. The beauty of the process was that we never felt we had to rush any of it — from the song writing to the recording, we made sure to work only when the spirit was moving, when the message was clear and the vibe was right. I've never made a record like that before — waiting for the moment and making no false moves until it arrives. It was pretty liberating, really.

As far as a release date is concerned, we're in the process of trying to gain some momentum around the single, “Breaking You Down.” It's the first song to see the light of day — the rest should follow very soon. It may be released on Doghouse, but it may not. I have a long-standing relationship with the label — we're working together to find the right pair of hands to take the project from here. Everyone there is so supportive — they've believed in what I'm doing every step of the way. They believe in me enough to potentially let me go.

ML: The press release for My Lover, My Stranger paints a picture of David Moore, circa 2001, selling off his guitar and amp and making a fresh start. What did you do after that?

DM:I had been through roughly 12 years of writing, touring, chasing this illusive dream. I had come to the end of my rope and couldn't see the forest for the trees anymore. I was in Chamberlain at the time. We knew it had run its course. I think a lot of my faith in the world at that time was wrapped up in my experience with music — when the music ended it took with it a lot of my earlier idealism and faith. So yeah, I took everything I had and sold it for a song. I wanted all evidence of where I had been erased. I went searching for a simpler place to hang my hat. Got a nine to five job, started a family, and turned my eyes away from anything that had to do with art, creativity, self-expression. I was looking for solitude and anonymity.

ML: The same press release has your father buying that guitar and giving it back to you. Did that really happen? If so, how did it feel to have that guitar back in your hands? Can you remember the first song you played after getting it back?

DM: That was an unforgettable moment, really. My parents had always supported me and believed in what I was doing musically, probably more than anyone, myself included. My dad went back to the same guitar store and explained to the owner what I had done, described the Gretsch guitar as best he could, and the owner remembered me, probably because he got such a steal for everything I had sold him. He went in the back and brought out the same guitar — not just the same make, model, year — it was the exact 1962 Gretsch guitar I had sold him. It was some strange resolution or reconciliation with my past. I'll never forget that day.

The first song I played was probably "Boots of Spanish Leather" by Bob Dylan. My kids hardly let me play anything else — they love that one.

ML: The record is billed as a solo outing, but it couldn't have come to be without the input of others, principally your former Chamberlain and Split Lip bandmate Adam Rubenstein. How has the relationship between you and Adam stayed so strong for so many years? Can you imagine ever making music without him?

DM: When you play music with someone for so long, when you grow up together writing, recording, and performing music together, there is an indissoluble bond there. He's brilliant. He and I are very different individuals, except when it comes to the songs. In that regard, we have always spoken the same language. Our aesthetic, vision, and sensibilities are very much in line. We carry each other and no, I couldn't imagine making music without him. He's often kept me in the game when I've wanted to walk — talked me off the ledge many times.

ML: How long have the songs on My Lover, My Stranger been around? What inspired these songs?

DM: It depends on the song — the oldest of the songs has probably been around for roughly three years. Most were written last year or early this year. Many of the songs speak to themes such as redemption, the fruits of the spirit, climbing out of fear, resolution, freedom, loss of self for the sake of a higher calling, the primacy of the moment.

I tend to write more toward who I want to become and less about who I am now. The songs force me along, help me evolve, I think. I find myself writing toward the man I know I should be in the eyes of God, not necessarily the one I am in my own eyes, if that makes sense.

ML:For your set at Monolith, will you be playing with a band, or will it just be you and a guitar?

DM: I think we'll be doing a broken down set — myself on acoustic guitar, my good friend Adam accompanying me on electric guitar, and my dear friend John David Webster on piano/keys. He is actually the master mind behind the album — he produced the record.

ML: Speaking of Monolith, the soaring chorus of "Breaking You Down" seems perfectly suited for a Rocky Mountain backdrop. Would you agree? What kind of imagery did you have in mind when you were writing that song?

DM: That song was one of those songs that came without having to be called. I had the chord structure that I wanted to use — I woke up very early one morning at a friend’s house in Los Angeles and everyone in the house was still asleep. I went outside to have a cigarette, grabbed the guitar on my way out, sat down on his front step and it was all laid out in front of me within a couple of minutes.

It's a pleading song — it's hopeful, soaring, and somehow desperate. I think I wrote it with several people in mind — most of all my first born son. That first verse is definitely aimed at him. It'll be an emotional experience singing that one at Monolith. But then, in a setting like that, the whole set will no doubt be an emotional one.

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