Niagara Gazette

October 10, 2013

No stopping 'Runaway Train' for Dave Pirner and Soul Asylum

By Thom Jennings
Night & Day

Night & Day — Soul Asylum formed in Minneapolis in the early 1980s but it wasn’t until they released the Grammy Award-winning song “Runaway Train” in 1992 that the band became a multi-platinum selling band with their album “Grave Dancer’s Union.”

In spite of their massive commercial success, Soul Asylum has remained true to their punk and alternative roots. If you have seen them live you will quickly realize that “Runaway Train” is anything but a typical Soul Asylum song. Nevertheless, the song finds its way into the band’s set every night.

“In the time it takes me to explain why I didn’t play ‘Runaway Train,’ I figure I might as well just play it. The repertoire we are playing now is hard and fast, it’s nice to play that song, it gives the audience a break,” said Soul Asylum frontman Dave Pirner during a recent phone interview.

The band will be coming to town Monday night for a performance at The Tralf along with Fountains of Wayne.

Pirner’s musical roots are in the Minneapolis area but these days he calls New Orleans home.

“What I love about New Orleans is that the area is such a mash-up of different styles of music, it’s not just one style.”

New Orleans may seem like an odd place for a guitarist/singer in an alternative band, but Pirner is also a trumpet player (in a famous incident on the Late Show with David Letterman where Paul Schaffer snatched Pirner’s trumpet during a performance of their song “Misery.”)

Nevertheless, Pirner still returns to Minneapolis and the club where the band got started, the 7th Street Entry.

“I do like to go back to the 7th Street Entry and check out new bands and think back to the birthplace of the craziness. I get sentimental about it and love standing in that room. I have great memories of that music scene,” a scene that was important to the band’s history.

“The Minneapolis music scene was something that was very important to me. We all knew each other and supported each other and it was really cool vibe. We all slept on each other’s couches and supported each other.”

As he spoke to me from his tour bus, Pirner was talking about various cities he has visited over the years, which led me to ask him about Buffalo and Western New York

“Buffalo is cool because it reminds me of Minneapolis, Seattle and other places at the top of the map, not to discount Canada. I have always had really good times there and really good crowds. I have become friends with Ani DiFranco, who lives down in New Orleans.”

Before I let him go, I had to ask Pirner about one of my favorite live albums of all time, “After the Flood.”

“There are a couple tunes on there that had different song titles on it and everything. I remember the first time I heard a Led Zeppelin concert, they used to jam on things that would turn into songs,” he said.

The band has recently released an internet only album of cover songs and is planning to release an album of original material next year. Tickets for Soul Asylum with Fountains of Wayne are $29 in advance and $34 day of show, and available at The Tralf box office or through Ticketmaster.

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.