Dave Hartley is best known as the bassist for the War on Drugs, but his Nightlands solo project and writing about basketball are what he dedicates most of his time to these days. Earlier this month, Hartley debuted his sophomore album, Oak Island, via Secretly Canadian. He also was the ringleader in getting Matt Bonner to finally shoot in the NBA three-point contest, to no avail. There was something about his first album, Forget the Mantra, that was so intriguing, yet somehow fell flat of truly captivating you. His second album is a far more elaborate offering, and it was a good call to spice things up.
Before making his way to Atlanta, Hartley took a few minutes to talk about how love songs are the equivalent of politicians' bumper stickers, those pinch-me-I'm-playing-with-John-Cale-right-now moments, and how love is an explosion of euphoria.
So currently you're on the hunt to get Matt Bonner into the three-point contest for the NBA.
Dave Hartley: Yeah it just started off as a lark and sort of stumbled into something that might actually work.
I do some writing about basketball and I
Oak Island is different than your first album. It's complex and kind of complicated musically. So you worked on this album for years and years, right? What's it about for you?
Yeah, I started it before Forget the Mantra even came out. I guess lyrically it's just about various relationships in my life. It's sort of classic in that sense. Some of the songs are memory-based. Musically, it's much more complex. I wanted the lyrics to be the gateway, because the music is very layered. Musically I just wanted it to be more confidant. But the first record I didn't put any bass on it because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do without. For this record I decided to do bass.
"You're My Baby" is a particularly striking song to me.
That song is about love. At the time I was listening to a lot of old music that had these really idealistic lyrics in them. Like, love is perfect. I just got nostalgic for that. Love isn't like that and it's certainly not so perfect, but I like the contrast between the idea of love and the actual practice, which are just two different things. It was about love and lust and just adoring someone. It was an explosion of euphoria.
Who are the girls that inspired this record?
Mainly it was my ex-girlfriend. She was sort of my muse - she actually played on the record. You know, it's funny, the songs often last longer than the relationships. They're sort of like bumper stickers for politicians. They last a lot longer than the politicians.
What did she say?
I think it's hard for her to listen to it. We're friends and stuff. She loves it. I think she remembers it fondly and probably likes it. I think everybody secretly wants to have songs written about them. You know what I mean?
Of course. So what was your experience like performing with John Cale on "Jimmy Fallon?"
It was awesome. I got this call from a mutual friend of ours and she was like, "D you want to play with John Cale on Jimmy Fallon on Thursday?" And I said yes, and she was like, OK, I'll email you in the morning. [Laughs]. He was really cool and it was really easy. It was one of those little moments in life. It was like, "Pinch me, I'm playing with John Cale right now."
Nightlands plays the Earl with Efterklang and Qurious on Saturday, March 2. $10-12. 9 p.m. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950.
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