An “Interview” with Dave Harding, part 1

by Lee Gonnella on August 28, 2012

I recently talked to Dave Harding about his latest project, ‘You Came Through“.  This is Dave’s second solo album, and he’s been a songwriter for over 20 years. He’s also a founding member of one of my all-time favorite bands, Richmond Fontaine. This interview was done through a series of e-mails,  due to the fact that, as you’ll soon hear,  Dave no longer lives in North America.

DITTMoon: Dave, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. I’m excited about this new album, your second solo album. This record has a comfortable feel about it, like a well maintained car that  can be depended on. You went back to Mike Coykendall‘s Portland studio again, can you talk about what it’s like working with MC and your history with him?

DH: I first met Mike Coykendall, I believe, when RF was recording “Winnemucca” in the Summer of 2000. Mike came in and played some “Nashville” strung guitar on the track “El Rancho”, a song which did not appear on the record.

Around the same time Mike was playing in Fernando’s band and  produced Fernando’s “Dreams of the Sun and Sky”. Mike also opened a few shows for RF around this time. But I really got to know him better when RF recorded the songs “Post to Wire” and “Polaroid” at his Blue Rooms Studios in Portland. We also recorded “The Fitzgerald” and “Obliteration By Time” albums at his studio. Mike toured with the band in Europe, in Spring 2005, opening for us, and then playing keyboards, harmonica and singing with the band. RF would back him on a couple of his songs as well. Lots of fun!
Mike is a really great guy. Very centered and seems to have an inner peace, though he does get a wild gleam in his eye sometimes! He is kind of like a wizened zen master, without the religious overtones of course. He is great to work with. I can be insecure about my songs and singing, and Mike is very supportive and patient. He always has a bunch of great ideas to try on a song, but he never tries to ‘hijack’ a song, like some producers do. He is all about preserving the integrity of the song. He is a great songwriter himself, so he knows a thing or two about what makes a song work. And he can play a ton of instruments, so that is nice. We were listening back to “Shores of Cornwall” while making my new record, and Mike says “I think this song needs some autoharp on it”. I ask, “Ok, but who the hell can play that?” Mike says, “Oh, I’ve got one lying around”. “Sure, why not!”, I say. It was a real pleasure to have him sing on that song as well. He did much more justice to it then I could have done. I love working at his studio, as it is located in his house. The recording room is in his living room, and all of the equipment is upstairs. It has a very natural vibe. I like music created in homes.(Big Pink, for example) And I like that when I record my vocals, I am all alone downstairs, with no one looking at me, except maybe his cat! Plus you get a lot of exercise, running up and down the stairs between takes to listen to the playback upstairs! And he has a great selection of music magazines and books for me to read while he is toiling away at the mixes!
Coming up next, we’ll talk about song-writing, Dave’s career with Richmond Fontaine, and what the future holds.

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