Dave Hause – ‘Drive It Like It’s Stolen’

By Katherine Allvey

The day after Tom Petty died, Dave Hause was supporting Brian Fallon on tour and chose to pay tribute via the most heartbreaking, empty cover of ‘Won’t Back Down’ that’s ever been heard. That’s just the kind of guy he is; a Dave Hause performance, live or recorded, is a combined therapy session, confessional and autobiography. Taking us on a journey through his divorce, mental health, fatherhood and worries about the future of democracy via his last three solo albums, ‘Drive It Like It’s Stolen’ takes on Hause’s concerns about whether society will survive until his children reach adulthood and takes a step away from his inner turmoil. “My life is getting increasingly less interesting,”says Hause. “And that’s by design. You want to be steady, you want to be at a baseball practice or taking your kids to gymnastics or whatever it is. You don’t want to necessarily be staring into the abyss all the time and trying to determine your existential weight. I don’t want my life to become fodder for songs — I want my creativity to be the fodder for songs.”

The first single, ‘Hazard Lights’, is classic Hause – a stream of consciousness or imagined conversation between himself and an imagined friend. In this case, the friend asked for the car to be pulled over so they could drunkenly empty their stomach and share their opinions on ‘acid rain and Jane’s Addiction’, and this prompts a mediation on sobriety. “That feeling of having the hazard lights on” admits Hause when asked about the origin of this image, “it’s just uncertainty. I’m kind of just pulled over here. I don’t know where I’m going, I know where I’ve been, the hazard lights are blinking, so please don’t hit me because I’ve got to figure out what to do next.” While he always tackles tough subjects, there’s this warmth in House’s songs, a personal intimacy through background piano like remembered radio hits and a steady earnest guitar strum. ‘Damn Personal’ is the thoughtful child of his career in The Loved Ones, a eulogy to his hedonistic former self with those Pennywise-style ‘whoahs’ now turned mournful in a minor key and a churning, harsh guitar that upsets the tone of acceptance. ‘Low’ is a celebration of partnership, with chiming guitars and a xylophone lighting his repeated ‘would you love me when I’m low?’. It’s a beautiful and affirmative moment. 

The opening track, ‘Cheap Seats (New Year’s Day, NYC, 2042)’ is perhaps the biggest surprise. Yes, we were expecting personal, semi acoustic tunes that break and warm your heart in equal measures, but not a slow burning voice and piano take on watching the world crumble. Suddenly, he comes back to himself and speeds out the city on a punk rock melodic motorbike. Bookending the album with ‘Vulture’ is another strong move, another song of fire and escape over rocksteady drumbeats and using his chords as the source of his strength. Hause has recovered from his troubles and found a power inside him which maybe he didn’t know he had, and when performed live, this must be the most affirming song in his set. Of course, he had to tackle fatherhood, and Hause does so using the classic Nick Cave technique of ‘is it good or bad? I can’t tell from the title!’ on ‘chainsaweyes’. Obviously he loves his son, but over the moody cello and desperate vocals with a tiny, attentive electronic beep it’s clear he sees fatherhood as a form of destruction.

Is Dave Hause still a punk? As one of the leaders of the Revival Tour veterans along with Chuck Ragan and Dan Adriano, he’s got the whole ‘plaid shirt, country-style howl’ image down for sure, but this album proves that the fire that burned in his guts fifteen years ago has not gone out. ’Drive It Like It’s Stolen’ is an evolution, a continuation of the chronicles of his life as he grows and reflects on his experiences. In a post-truth world, sharing your authentic story via hopeful key changes and relentless warm guitar is incredibly punk, and long may Hause continue to live his best life and share his joys and anxieties with us all. 


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