Bret McKenzie, the more serious half of the musical comedy duo, Flight Of The Conchords, has released a new song called Dave’s Place.
This latest sample of the New Zealand musician Bret McKenzie’s debut solo LP, Songs Without Jokes, is a beautifully written tribute to Dave Bianco.
Dave was an audio engineer whom McKenzie had worked with during several projects in L.A, where McKenzie would refer to Dave’s studio in North Hollywood as Dave’s Place.
McKenzie was grieving as he wrote this song and spoke about Dave’s death.
“He sadly passed away not long before I started making this record” McKenzie spoke dispiritedly.
McKenzie explained in a statement: “Like most of my songs I wrote this one night at home in Wellington while strumming away on my guitar”.
He then shared it with producer Mickey Petralia in Los Angeles to expand on the ideas.
As much pain as he was in, McKenzie used this heartache as fuel for this song, “ What started off as a three-chord country song, came out the other side an eighties Blade Runner, Dire Straits-Esque jam” he said explaining the process.
Listening to the song, you instantly get a pounding 80s drum beat with the accompaniment of McKenzie on his classical piano. As soon as he leads the song with his powerhouse vocals, a nostalgic feeling of progressive blues rock begins to linger. The similarity of his voice to Mark Knopfler from the Dire Straits is incredible and it guides you through the bitter-sweet lyrics dedicated to the complex beauties of life and the sadness of reminiscing over a departed friend.
Like a lot of 80s songs, the bubbly and bright instruments contrast the somewhat despairing lyrics. The synth jumps in during the chorus which creates an ethereal atmosphere for the lyrics.
“You go dancin’ in the sky/ Dave, you enjoy that view,” McKenzie sings, as he lets go of his friend.
McKenzie has stated that he felt Dave’s presence as he worked on and completed this song, feeling Dave look over him like audio engineers do to the people they collaborate with.
During a press release, McKenzie reiterated his intentions of embodying a more serious tone in his creativity: “Post-Conchords, I’d been working on songs for The Muppets films, and during a session I had the thought that it would be fun someday to work on some songs that weren’t for someone else, that don’t have to tell a story or be funny or continue the narrative plot, checking all the boxes for the character in the movie.” He felt it’d be more enjoyable focusing on a record like that, working on something he doesn’t usually do.
Produced by Mickey Petralia and McKenzie, the album Songs without Jokes, was recorded at East West Studios and United Recordings and mixed by Darrell Thorpe, and mastered by Dave Ives at 101 Mastering in LA.
Dave’s Place is set for release on August 26 via Sub Pop and McKenzie and his seven-piece live band are set to tour in the UK towards the end of the year.