Five Questions With… Dave McEathron
The former leader of roots-rockers The Warped 45s returns with a folk-inflected and hand-crafted collection of eloquent new songs. Here he discusses his love of Jack Kerouac, family jam sessions, his favourite original song, and a desire for earlier shows.
By Jason Schneider
As co-founder of The Warped 45s, Dave McEathron established himself as one of the most lyrical voices within the Canadian roots rock scene. Now, following the band’s demise and a self-imposed break from the business, the now-Hamilton based McEathron is back with a full-length collection of folk songs entitled Abandoned Companions, along with a rougher-edged EP, The Abandoned Companions Companion Piece.
Working alongside producer Brian Pickett (The Strumbellas), McEathron’s songs detail raw, intertwined stories of relationship challenges, along with the kind of blue-collar storytelling that has been his stock and trade. The album also includes “Luck,” a song co-written with Juno winner David Francey.
Together, Abandoned Companions and The Abandoned Companions Companion Piece comprise an intimately crafted work of art, right down to the packaging. McEathron focused on creating a beautiful, tangible item and, utilizing his other skills, made every album cover with high-quality pieces of leather, and hand stamped each one with the album’s logo. Included as well is a complete songbook containing lyrics and chords.
As a concept, the project clearly flies in the face of the ongoing dominance of streaming, but is a timely reminder of how much can be enhanced when it comes in a physical form. You can catch Dave McEathron in Toronto on March 9 at the Burdock, and for more info go to davemceathron.com.
What song on the new record are you most proud of and why?
“Hell to the Heavens” for sure. I read Big Sur by Jack Kerouac when I was younger, which Jack wrote while heading into a nervous breakdown. Another writer on the dust jacket observed that it’s one thing for a writer to look back on a rough time and write about it, or see someone else’s struggles and write about it, but it’s another thing to narrate your own breakdown as it happened. At one point I found myself in a similar situation, living in a camping tent in my sister’s basement. I’d gone through the band’s break up and also a personal one. It was about the worst time of my life. One day I wrote “Hell to the Heavens”, and I’m just proud that I was able to get it down, let alone come up with a great feel and melody. It speaks to the transformative nature of music—and how it can help you work through things.
What is the most significant change in your life over the biggest year?
I got engaged to an amazing woman.
What song in your catalogue means the most to you and why?
When I finished “Radio Sky” [from The Warped 45s’ 2009 album 10 Day Poem For Saskatchewan], I thought it was the best song I’d written to that point, and it did change the way other writers talked to me and how reviewers reviewed me. Its success changed my life; we got to tour, we got signed to a label, got better gigs, and even shot a video. I still enjoy playing it too.
What are your fondest musical memories growing up?
Always the McEathron family jams. There’s still something special about being a kid and getting to stay up late, sitting on the stairs and listening to all the banter, laughter, music, and stories.
If you could fix anything about the music industry what would it be?
I wish the culture could accommodate gigs at earlier times so everyone, especially the people with day jobs and children, could be included in the music scene.