|A Conversation with Bill DeMain & Molly Felder of Swan Dive|
Puremusic: So it's amazing, it's been three years since our maiden voyage interview with Swan Dive.
Molly Felder: Wow, congratulations.
PM: And now we're reprising that first interview with this one in issue number forty.
Bill DeMain: Forty issues--that's so great, Frank.
PM: If we consider those three years and what a long time that is, maybe we could touch on some of the highs, lows, or just important events that happened in that long season.
[pause, then laughter]
PM: Molly is laughing because Bill is rocking the cradle.
MF: Yes, I had a baby, and I've not had any sleep for the last three years, not one night.
PM: [laughs] Really, has it been like that?
MF: It really has. Actually, I've been able to sleep when we're on the road, but that's it. So we need to go on the road some more. Three years, wow... Did we do the electronic record after that?
BD: We did it the month before you delivered. Because we played a show at the Exit/In--
MF: Yes, okay.
BD: And she was on stage just--
BD: --huge like Orson Welles.
MF: Anyhow, we did have the electronic record, Words You Whisper, since our last interview.
PM: So there was a baby, there was an electronic record for Siesta, the Spanish label, and--
BD: And The Sterling Huck Letters came out, my book of prank letters. And lots of magazine articles in Mojo and Performing Songwriter.
MF: And some road shows, too.
BD: A few road shows, songs written with Marshall Crenshaw and Jill Sobule and some album cuts on those folks' records. Let's see... I think my story can all be summed up in that first song on the new record. I was thinking about that this morning. That's my life in the last three years, that song, "Good To Be Free."
PM: Ahh, so then we'll be sure to include that among the clips.
BD: But the last three years have been great.
PM: I think the record is fantastic. But that's my usual reaction to a Swan Dive record.
MF: Oh, thank you. You're the best audience for anyone. I always think, "Please let Frank be there at the show."
PM: Yeah, I don't like to miss any shows. And the show coming up, to celebrate the release this record, is--
BD: Friday, March 12th, in Nashville--
MF: At The Basement. We'll have a six-piece string ensemble led by Chris Carmichael; Brad Jones will be on upright bass, but we won't have the drums because the stage isn't big enough.
PM: So on the personal tip, then, Mol, why don't we talk a little about your move away from Nashville to New Harmony, Indiana. What prompted that? What kind of a community is it, and how does the duo carry on regardless?
MF: Well, I still work in Nashville. A lot of the people don't even know that I've moved.
PM: That's true. [Molly has gotten studio work for years as a background and lead vocalist. She also does a lot of funny voices, so she might even do some voiceover work.]
MF: Though maybe they'll know now...
MF: I don't want them to think, "Well, Indiana, we can't hire her." So I haven't told most of the people that I work for, just a few.
PM: Because Indiana sounds far, but it's not really far, right?
MF: No, it's just two and a half hours. It's such an easy drive. A couple of CDs, and you're here. But we moved there for Grafton, because it's like Mayberry, the culture. It's just a beautiful peaceful town with a lot of art. It's got everything.
PM: Do you mean it's kind of an artists' colony? I remember you describing it to me once. Who founded it?
MF: The Harmonists did, from Germany, in 1814. They thought Jesus was coming back in ten years, so they worked really, really hard, and they made this city on the Wabash River. And when he didn't come back, they sold the town to the Owenites, who were really different from the Harmonists, who just worked all the time. The Owens had this idea of a community of intellectual people. And so they wrote to all of their friends in Europe, and they brought what they called the Boatload of Knowledge over, which is all these really intellectual people. But nobody wanted to work. They just wanted to kind of sit around and discuss things.
PM: [laughs] That's how them intellectuals are.
MF: The men were in one building and the ladies were in another building, like the Shakers. Those buildings are still there. One of the Owens was one of the guys who founded the Smithsonian Institute. He was a really famous geologist. And they had the first kindergarten in the United States, it was in New Harmony. They started it.
PM: Well, it's a German word, after all.
MF: Right. And the first women's group, or club, was organized there. It's a cool, peaceful town with this beautiful spiritual creative vibe. When you walk around, you can feel it.
PM: Wow. And so you're really glad to have resettled there.
MF: Yeah. I miss my friends in Nashville. And I miss all the music people, but I just come back for it. I'm here enough--every week, almost. continue