Five minutes with Dave Daley

"The beauty about songwriting is, there aren’t any rules..."

Dave Daley is bringing his full band sound to Lust for Live on Saturday, July 16, at the Macquarie Inn, when Davesway & The Cotton Thieves take the stage.

Lust for Live's Clinton Hoy talks to Dave about his song “Things That You Do” and throws a curly hypothetical Dave’s way.

L4L: “Our flame burned out, then you returned the spark but i can't start the fire, there's no fuel in my heart" - an evocative line... reads great metaphorically as well - do you like to use metaphor in your writing.

Yeah metaphors are beautiful thing within language, it can really exaggerate the emotion that you are trying to create. In the case of this metaphor, at the time of writing I was in a place of desolation and sorrow. This metaphor was able to capture that feeling and describe exactly what was happening, by using only a few words in the song. The other thing that I love about metaphors is that their meanings can be interpreted by the listener in a way to suit how they would relate to the song. For me it is important that my writing is relatable to others. 

L4L: Your songs sound built on personal experience - are you ever wary of sharing too much or is a true connection impossible if you're not honest with your audience (and yourself)?

I am known for someone who wears their heart on their sleeve, I don’t think that I am too bothered by what I share in songs. I think it is more of a problem that I overshare with people. I find honesty in songs to not have to be necessary, but what is important is the importance of the emotion in the song. For me that emotion needs to be represented truthfully. I guess this is why a lot of my material comes from personal experience. As it is easier to write about an emotion when you are feeling it.

L4L: "What I saw then, it's not what we have here" - really captures an emotional buyers remorse - is it hard to find words to match emotion sometimes? How much do you rewrite/edit?

I generally get a notion within the song, get through it, sing it a few times and work out what lyrics are not supporting the emotion and I edit. But funnily enough “Things That You Do” was a song that I barely had to edit. It was one of those songs that just fell out when I was writing it and it is a result of how I was feeling at the time, made for a very easy topic to write on.

L4L: "Still two worlds apart, even when we're so near" - writers like Ben Harper often use juxtaposition like this in their lyrics, are you conscious of lines like this when you write or do phrases sometimes just come out and sound good?

I would like to say that I am conscious of lines like this, but the truth is it came out and sounded good. All of my songwriting is like this, I had someone come to me after they had dissected a song of mine and they told me how my song was “wrong” because it jumped from 3rd person to first person and a whole other bunch of reasons why it was “wrong” but the beauty about songwriting is, there aren’t any rules. No rules about how you write and you also have to respect that there are no rules that say that that guy had to like what I wrote either.

L4L: Cliche time: How much of your songwriting is inspiration and how much is perspiration?

It’s funny, inspiration comes and go, working hard I believe is necessary to deliver in times when inspiration is low. You can choose to work hard. I find I can’t always choose to be inspired. So perspiration is a big aspect of song writing in a lot of cases. But when inspiration strikes, you need to run with it. It’s just always striking when you least expect it so it’s hard to capture it. A lot of the times I’m taking notes, these days texting myself on my phone little snippets of lyrical ideas, that I may use sometime in the future.

L4L: I don't want to sink into what comes first territory but can you give us an insight into how you construct a song? How you find the chords, how you develop melodies and where the words come from?

My song construction is definitely not a systematic approach, but there is always an idea. This could be a lyrical idea or a musical idea, such as a riff on the guitar.

Finding chords once the original idea is established are normally just fumbling around the guitar until I found the sound of a chord which takes me in the direction I am imagining the song will go in. A lot of humming whilst I don’t have words, but in the end the words I end up using in the song denote how the melody ends up being decided upon.

L4L: Aside from the questions about the song I have a hypothetical i want to throw at you - choose a song, any song to play with the band who wrote/performed it. You get to play it in front of 10,000 people and everyone you'd want to invite would get to see it. The catch is once you finish playing the song you'll never ever hear that song again. What do you choose?

…’cause it would be one way to get rid of a song you never want to hear again! If it were that case it would be the Macarena or Barbie Girl (laughs)... but my serious answer to this question… Firstly it's nasty that I never get to hear it again! It makes me not want to pick a lot of songs! So the song I would like to pick is Sober by Tool. But with my normal twist of acoustically. Even though it is a hypothetical question, it hurts my heart that I would never hear that song again!