Dave Mudie Reflects On Debut Solo Project L.A. Mood

One of the most exciting and underrated new releases recently is L.A. Mood’s debut album A Print Out of the Sun. Out now through Cheersquad Records & Tapes, the album is released on black vinyl, limited edition orange vinyl and digitally. L.A. Mood is the solo project of Melbourne based multi-instrumentalist and producer Dave Mudie. He’s the full-time drummer for Courtney Barnett, and has played in upwards of forty other bands and counting – for him, touring down-time means burying himself in studio projects and playing local gigs

Most recently Mudie played drums on Jess Ribeiro’s latest album, recorded Jade Imagine’s debut and played on releases from Gumboot, Super American Eagle (alongside Brent DeBoer of The Dandy Warhols), Cannon, Baby Blue & Evan Dando (The Lemonheads). Mudie grew up in a musical family; both parents were professional musicians – his dad Don Mudie was a key member of seminal ‘60s & ‘70s bands in The Groop and Axiom and co-writer with Brian Cadd, and his mum a singer. Music has always been an obsession in Mudie’s life. Dave talks to Hi Fi Way about his debut solo album A Print Out of the Sun.

Congratulations on the debut album for L.A. Mood. You must be pretty stoked with how it turned out and the reaction from people so far?
Oh, it’s been amazing. It’s so good to finally get it out. A long time coming, but we got there in the end.

Did it take a long time for you to work out what your sound would be and the kind of artist that you want to be given that you’ve been in a number of other bands?
From the EP to the album has been quite a change. It was working out where I wanted to go and what kind of stuff. I guess my influences started to come to the front a bit more now like the psych, grungy poppy stuff. It’s coming out as I do more stuff and it all kind of came together. I did a lot of the tracking before the pandemic, and during the pandemic I did the mixing and got everything together. Everyone had their lists of things to do, I had mine and I got through it.

With all the time touring with Courtney Barnett where did you find the time?
That was a bit of a blessing in disguise, I guess. It gave us a couple of years off to really concentrate on recording, so we just knuckled down in the studio during that period, which was a godsend having a studio at home to be able to do that. A lot of the bands that I’m in recorded a record during that time, so I think maybe four or five records were made. It was really good.

Was something that you had always sort of intended to do but was always going to be a matter of timing?
Exactly, I’ve just had a baby with my partner last year as well. That’s definitely at the forefront of everything now trying to find time to do it. We’re back out on the road with Courtney the last couple of months. We’re in the States, which is really good. It seems like full steam ahead again, everyone’s making up for lost time. It is hard, but I’m kind of obsessed with music so much that I don’t really do anything else now. It’s pretty lucky to be able to make a living out of music, so I just squeeze it in whenever I can.

It is a tough juggle being a Dad, touring and being in all your other bands keeping all your balls in the air and no letting one slip?
Yes, definitely. It’s funny, all the bands are wanting to do stuff and release things now, so it’s trying to find time. I’ve just booked in some launches for the LA Mood stuff in December at the Merri Creek Tavern and the Theatre Royal in Castlemaine. I managed to sneak that in and on a weekend off but then there’s a bunch of Courtney shows. It’s just juggling you know and trying not to miss too much of my daughter’s upbringing.

I guess if you’re doing something that you love it doesn’t really feel like work does it?
No, not at all. It’s great and it’s always awesome. Getting to play with a bunch of different people gives you influences for the next thing and it just kind of continues on.

Did the concept of L.A. Mood come touring after touring the States with Courtney a lot?
Yeah, very much so. I was a bit obsessed with LA when we first started touring over there. We did a lot of really fun shows and I just like the history behind the place. It’s so spread out and you can drive five minutes one way and you’re in the mountains the other way you’re in the desert and then the beach, you know. It’s a cool place, it’s got a vibe where it’s very creative. There’s a lot of movers and shakers there, a huge centrepiece of old music with Topanga Canyon with Neil Young and all that kind of stuff. It really gives you some good influences, so I went along that line. When I first started the band, that was my influence around that time, since then I’ve moved up to Portland where I love spending time up there, just anywhere on the West coast, sunny good vibes.

Were there any particular bands when you were in the States that were a significant influence as well that helped shaped your sound?
I think so. Around the time when I first started the band, I was really digging, um, uh, Ty Segall, King Tough and a lot of those bands that were around that area. I’ve been lucky enough to play with those guys over the years and just seeing what they were doing really influenced what I was doing as well. That sound definitely creeps in there for sure.

Did you have a pretty clear idea in your own mind of what you wanted to do and where you wanted to take the album?
I’ve got a white board in my studio now that I’m looking at, and the first sketch of the album, there’s twelve songs written out there, and two of them ended up being on the record. I recorded all these songs and then wrote a bunch more when I was touring again. There’s probably enough music for another record there, but I was enjoying the newer songs a lot more, it was a jangly record with the same theme. I went with those and rerecorded a lot of stuff and went in that direction. Then the second half of the record gets a bit more experimental.

Did you need to be off tour to be creative?
I think being out there, seeing other bands you pick up bits and pieces from there and whatever is happening on the road at the time. I find I write on the road really well, I’ll buy an old acoustic no matter what tour on just whatever country and just write away on that. It really does change shape a lot once you bring it into the room and start mucking around. Once you put a drum beat on things, and I’ve got a bunch of little synths here now which I’m experimenting with.

Did everything go to plan in the studio?
I think so. The only thing that I was meant to head over to Portland, Oregon to mix the record with our mixer, that was the March at the start of the Covid. So that got cancelled and we ended up having to do it online. It was taking quite a while and we found this program where you can, it’s basically like a Zoom for mixing, a virtual mix board comes up on your side. It really helped with getting things moving along. That part didn’t go to plan, but at the same time it gave us a bit more time to work on the mixes and add little extra bits and solos.

Did you know the sorts of people that you wanted to have involved and play on the album? Was that obvious to you as you were writing the songs?
I always like working with people. I work with Bob Harrow a lot. I’m in another band with him called Super American Eagle, he’s in Immigrant Union as well. He sings on a couple of tracks and I’ve got my band, which is Bones from Courtney’s band on bass, James Fleming who plays keys with a bunch of people, but mainly Davey Lane and You Am I sometimes, Tommy Toranto who plays guitar and he’s in a band called Gumboot and he’s great. With the recording process I do a lot of it and then we do it with the live band and get together to try and hash it out.

Do you ever forget what band you’re in or who you’re touring with?
Yes, a lot! Everyone’s getting excited for the end of the year now, so you just have to sit there, it’s basically like studying, you run through the record, relearn the songs and work out what band you’re playing with.

Are you planning on touring more around Australia with this album?
We’ve got these two shows in Victoria in December. I’m looking at an east coast tour early next year, along the beach, you want to do it in style. I’d like to go out and just have a nice holiday, so we might do a couple of weeks up the coast.

Interview By Rob Lyon

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