Swearing At Motorists brings mellow struggle back to Dayton
By Gary Spencer
Photo: Dave Doughman of Swearing At Motorists; Photo: Remco Brinkhuis
Dayton is an interesting place. It’s one of those odd cities people seem to love to hate, yet when someone talks down on it, they’ll defend it wholeheartedly. It’s also curious in the respect many believe you can depart from this town, but you’ll always come back to it.
Returning home definitely seems to be a sweet thing for Swearing At Motorists’ guitarist and songwriter Dave Doughman. A former resident of Dayton, Doughman started lo-fi rock juggernaut Swearing at Motorists here in the Gem City in 1994 and has waved the flag for Dayton rock music whether he has lived here or in his current residence of Hamburg, Germany.
Being relocated far away from home, it’s been difficult for Doughman to do Swearing at Motorists live performances in his homeland. With the impending release of the newest S@M album, While Laughing The Joker Tells the Truth, however, Dave saw it fit to come back to the States. The album is Doughman’s first full-length collection of brand new material in seven years, self-produced and funded in part from donations from a highly successful Kickstarter campaign. This will be his first extended tour in years, and includes an all ages hometown gig at Rockstar Pro Arena in Dayton.
I caught up with Doughman via email from his home in Germany to find out what he’s been up to all this time and how things have changed for Swearing At Motorists.
You have a new album, While Laughing, The Joker Tells the Truth. Why has there been such a long gap between this new album and your last full-length disc for the Secretly Canadian label in 2006?
I’ve been trying to make this record for years. I got sidetracked. One of the good distractions was the birth of my son. When he came along in 2007, I decided in order to be a good father, I needed to devote my time and energy to raising this cool little person. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with him, so that when the time was right to resume working as a touring musician, he would know how much I loved him and hopefully understand why I had to go on the road for a few weeks at a time. For a few years, I was using my son as an excuse not to write and record. Subconsciously, I knew starting an album was the first step to leaving home, which I was terrified of doing. It took a long time to realize I couldn’t be what I wanted to be for my son if I ignored who I was to myself. So, I started writing again. – Dave Doughman
Tell me about the Kickstarter campaign to fund the release of the new album.
The album [was] mixed and mastered and needs to be manufactured. Before, these costs would have been covered by the record label, but this time I am footing the bill. Only with support via pre-orders will I be able to release this album. I’ve come up with some cool rewards packages. If pre-orders make this a success, the album will immediately go into production. The digital download reward links will be emailed immediately, and as soon as the vinyl, CDs and T-shirts are manufactured, they will be shipped. – DD [Editor’s Note: the Kickstarter campaign was successfully funded on Feb. 8]
Tell me about the songs on your new album. Is there any particular theme or concept to the new record, lyrically or otherwise?
As always, this album is the soundtrack to the B-movie that my friends and I are living in. You can’t make up weirder or sadder or crazier than real life. – DD
What was the writing and recording process like for the new album?
I record when the muse strikes, which is a real pain in the ass. Sometimes there are long dry spells, then boom, I can’t keep up. Then I play them for the drummer, which this time was Martin Boeters, and eventually we head into the studio. Rick McPhail of the band Tocotronic engineered and shared production duties with me at the Upper Room – his studio here in Hamburg. All the acoustic numbers I did alone in my home studio, Cardboard Skyline. This album was cultivated from about 30 songs. I make albums, so it’s important to tell the best story I can in two, under 19-minute sides. – DD
Swearing at Motorists has a reputation for its engaging live show. How is what you do live different from what you do on record?
I like to think of the live show as the songs distilled down to the raw emotions that inspired them in the first place, then turned up to 11. Since I’m unable to recreate the subtleties of the albums live, it’s best to let the emotion take center stage. – DD
You will be coming to the U.S. for your first full tour in years. What are the logistics for making this tour happen?
The tour is the result of an invitation to play SXSW. It didn’t make sense to fly over just for one appearance, so I booked us a tour there and back. It was pretty easy – once word got out we were booking a tour, I started getting offers from all over the U.S. and Canada. – DD
Anything you’d like to say to our readers about why they should come see Swearing at Motorists at Rockstar Pro Arena this Saturday?
[Ben and Chad Parker] have been a positive force for music in Dayton. When I heard what they had going on with Rockstar Pro Wrestling and the all-ages shows they are promoting at their arena, it was obvious that was the place for the first Swearing At Motorists club show since 2009. I’m into the idea of playing a place that can accommodate our existing fans while being exposed to a whole new generation of music listeners. – DD
Swearing At Motorists will perform on Saturday, March 8, at Rockstar Pro Arena, 1106 E. Third St. Oh Condor, Smug Brothers and Holy Smokes are also on the bill. The show is all ages, doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance. For more information please visit swearingatmotorists.bandcamp.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com