Minneapolis Outfit Communist Daughter Visits South Park Tavern
By Kyle Melton
Second chances rarely come along. For Communist Daughter frontman, John Solomon, his self-destructive lifestyle in his previous band, Friends Like These, nearly cost him everything. With the inspiration from a young singer named Molly Moore [now his fiancee], Solomon got clean, retreated from city life and began writing the material that would become Communist Daughter’s debut, Soundtrack to the End. With a buzz building around the band and a new EP, Lions & Lambs, to be released in July, we spoke with Solomon about his past demons and the increasingly bright future that lies ahead for Communist Daughter.
Dayton City Paper: Tell me about how your previous band, Friends Like These, ended and you wound up taking a musical hiatus before forming Communist Daughter. What was the motivation to start a new band after taking time off?
I was a pretty hard partying guy in Friends Like These, it kept getting worse as the time went on. Drinking wasn’t enough; I got into the heavier drugs and took a pretty big dive. I also started having big issues with bipolar disorder. I was using so much, though, that I couldn’t tell you what feeling sober and normal really was so I didn’t know it was twice as bad. It just kept getting worse, I’m really, really lucky I’m able to talk about it from this side of things. I was a tragedy almost certain to happen. I was in the hospital twice, the last time they said I would die soon if I didn’t stop drinking because my body wasn’t able to handle it anymore. I had pancreatitis twice. I think anyone in my band would tell you they were watching my last days. Luckily, I found something worth living for, in Molly. She saw past all of it at my lowest and gave me a reason to look forward to making music.
DCP: What was your original vision musically with Communist Daughter? How close do you feel you came to realizing that original idea? How do you feel about where the band is right now musically?
The songs came from a place where there was no vision at the beginning, they were songs that I was pretty sure wouldn’t be heard. I came from a band that was pretty loud, we were very rhythm based though, tight rock kind of stuff. I remember thinking that The Shins were really rhythm based but much more acoustic, then I got into Neutral Milk Hotel and Spoon: all bands that pulled back to a more acoustic sound without getting singer/songwriter-y. I guess I wanted to fit somewhere in there among those bands. I think I found a niche. I like to think of that stuff at the beginning then let the music go where it needs to. I think now I am at the most wide open. I can either push it or just perfect what I am doing. Either way I am clear-headed about it and can make my decisions.
DCP: Tell me about the writing/recording for your last album, Soundtrack to the End. How did that album come out? How did you feel about the results?
Soundtrack to the End was a really magical kind of thing for me in good and very bad ways. It was the best work I had done. I did most of it by myself and I was at the lowest part in my life, but I had also pretty much given up on music… and kind of life in general. I was high for most of it, drunk for all of it, but really intensely invested in each of these songs. They came from a part of me that was saying goodbye to all of it. It’s kind of strange to find myself writing songs now after that. I think I am still zoning in on where I am going now. The addiction wasn’t the point of my music but it cast a huge shadow over a lot of it, so being out from under it and looking back and looking ahead, I have a lot of wide-open space to think about, and write about. This EP has the last song I wrote before I got sober, “Don’t Remember Me,” and then the first song I wrote sober, “Ghosts.” It’s a transition for me.
DCP: What else should people know about Communist Daughter? What are the plans for the near future?
I think we are on the bubble, we’ll see what the next year brings us. I think the next few months are going to be interesting, it’s all starting to work and it’s nice to just worry about music now, there’s a lot of new songs, in the rehearsal space so things are interesting for us. It took me a year before I started feeling comfortable, and so this is all new to me now.
Communist Daughter will perform on Friday, June 1 at South Park Tavern, 1301 Wayne Ave. Also on the bill are Wake Up Mordecai. Doors at 9 pm. Admission is $5 for all ages. For more information visit facebook.com/ComDot.
Reach DCP Music Editor Kyle Melton at MusicEditor@DaytonCityPaper.com and read his blog at thebuddhaden/net.