College students past or current in Northeastern’s audio business concentration are probably acquainted with this mantra: “Be excellent, get paid out.” That phrase is normally reported by professor and method coordinator Dave Herlihy as a reminder that no subject what you do in the business—be an artist, function at a label, dive into ethnomusicology, and so on—you can make a dwelling from your appreciate for audio with the proper expertise.
Far more to the issue, Herlihy is an embodiment of becoming wonderful and getting paid in the tunes business enterprise: Prior to getting a Northeastern professor and leisure law firm, he was the frontman of O Optimistic, a mainstay of the Boston ’80s alt-rock scene.
Again in the working day, the music video for “Picture That” was continuously playing in the Eco-friendly Line Data place of work. Now, roughly two many years given that his previous release, Herlihy is again with “Postcards From Kindergarten Vol. 1,” an EP of tracks created and recorded through the pandemic. Along with the release of the EP’s first solitary, “The Invisible Female,” Herlihy will carry out at The Burren in Somerville on Friday, Sept. 16.
[email protected] recently caught up with Herlihy to talk about the new EP, his reminiscences of O Good and the Boston audio scene, and the state of the new music marketplace.
How did this EP occur about?
In advance of the pandemic, I used so considerably time traveling from point A to issue B, from my household to university, so I by no means experienced time to compose tunes. I have this metaphor that a music strategy is like a fish swimming close to in this fishbowl in your cranium. It may well be there in the qualifications, but then you get distracted—you have a course or work—and the fish is gone.
When COVID strike, I was stuck at property, I was normally at point A. Abruptly all the drinking water close to my boat was really serene. And I could see the fish. I would just put on the voice memo app on my phone and seize my guitar and sing something, operate on it, and then send out an mp3 to my musician pals. I wrote about 60 music during that period of time, not contemplating I was going to do something with them.
In 2021, when people today began receiving vaccines and you could go out once more, I frequented my cousin Beth Burnett, who is also a producer, and she said I could arrive down to her residence studio in Rhode Island to history some music. So I went down to her spot.
We had this settlement that the sessions ended up likely to be just like hello-tech kindergarten—we’re just likely to get collectively and have fun and see what we can do. That’s for the reason that I see music like crafting postcards: if you read a postcard, it doesn’t need to have to be “War and Peace.” In reality, if you believe you’re likely to produce some epic get the job done, you can give yourself quality paralysis.
But kindergartners can do nearly anything. You could give a kindergarten child any prompt on the world, and they’ll just do it. No kindergarten kid at any time goes again and fixes their finger painting. So Beth and I agreed to take a kindergartner method in the studio, and the tracks were being going to be “Postcards from Kindergarten.”
How extended has it been considering the fact that you’ve produced songs? How does this recording and launch system review to your earlier albums?
I was in a band referred to as Toy Boat, which is a remnant of the O Beneficial guys, and we launched a history in advance of Napster, iTunes, at the dawn of the online.
In 1995, I would have gone toe to toe with anyone about what it usually takes to be in a band. But factors are pretty diverse now. Like, I know that it tends to make no sense to just drop an album on the internet until you are Beyonce. It’ll sink like a stone, ideal? You have to find out how men and women consume factors and look for out those who may hear. The good news is, which is what my friend Paul Buckley, who operates Lunch Information, knows all about.
But truly, I have no industrial expectations for the EP. I just want to like it, and I hope people who know me will listen to it. But I’m not doing it for a return on investment decision. Back with O Positive, I needed to be the most effective band in the entire world. But now, I just want to like what I do and not review or contend.
Can you explain to me about O Positive and your experience in the ’80s Boston new music scene?
Boston in the ’80s was an outstanding music scene, and there were incredible bands in city like Pixies, Tribe, and Scruffy the Cat. I was an undergrad at Boston Faculty and a DJ at the school’s radio station through this interval, and it was all these kinds of a massive aspect of opening up my brain to music.
I went to legislation college at BC after undergrad, and I continue to managed to remain on the radio station and enjoy in bands. In 1979, my good pal Vahe Katros certain his brother-in-regulation to give him $6,000 to mail me to a recording studio in Vermont, so we recorded this punk tune referred to as “I Never Know How to Act.” I dropped the track off at WBCN and went appropriate into legislation university.
Then a person Sunday night time in December, I’m driving house at 2 a.m. and Jerry Goodwin, the “Duke of Madness” on BCN, plays “I Never Know How to Act.” I’m like, what? It was obtaining all varieties of requests for airplay—no phony requests, possibly!
So now I’m really bummed out, due to the fact I could have pursued a new music occupation, but I’m in law school. But I trapped with it and graduated, and I acquired a career at a white collar crime business. The purchasers were being just revolting, and right after a minor although, I understood that I did not want to wake up at 65 years old possessing squandered my heartbeats conserving scumbags from their just desserts. So I stop staying a lawyer to pursue singing.
I began O Positive because I was adhering to my bliss. We rehearsed four evenings a 7 days, wrote like 20 songs and ultimately acquired a gig at the (former) Channel (nightclub). I was nonetheless pondering currently being a law firm, but I beloved the gig so a lot that I made the decision that I couldn’t end accomplishing this.
We started getting typical gigs and some of my BC close friends, several of whom have gone on to unbelievable occupations, primarily grew to become volunteer marketing campaign personnel for O Constructive. They would get alongside one another and have meetings and make T-shirts—we experienced a whole lot of folks aiding us out.
So then this record label identified as Throbbing Lobster set out our first EP, which we recorded at Synchro Sound, the Cars’ aged studio on Newbury Avenue. 1 music from that known as “With You” grew to become a massive local hit and offered like 40,000 copies, so all of a sudden we had some neighborhood mojo. We also acquired some new music videos on a neighborhood video channel termed V66, and basically every single bar in Boston would have V66 on at the bar. Soon right after that, we could do like two shows at the Paradise Rock Club in a person day, the two bought out.
We place out a second EP, and that had a large music referred to as “Talking About Love.” It marketed extra information at the Harvard Square Newbury Comics in December of 1987 than any other record—more than REM, much more than U2.
We signed to Epic in 1989 and we place out a fairly great report, but in general it was a fiasco. It was just the wrong time. It was pre-Nirvana—not that we sounded like Nirvana, but alternate rock was not even a radio structure in those people days. We arrived out alongside Warrant, Winger and all these hair metallic bands. There was no nationwide outlet for us except for college or university radio. Also, a new president arrived to the label and tabled all films for compact bands. From a publicity standpoint, if your band didn’t have a movie, you have been dead on arrival.
So we still left Epic simply because they didn’t want to do a second file. We marketed a first rate volume of copies but it was not something that merited a abide by-up report. We finally did just one extra record termed “Home Sweet Head,” and we did our previous show in January 1995. But staying part of the Boston scene—all those golf equipment, all people bands, exactly where tunes was the only video game for people—it was genuinely a renaissance time period, and it was unbelievable to be portion of.
David Crosby just lately explained in an interview with Stereogum, when questioned about suggestions he had for aspiring musicians, “Don’t come to be a musician.” As another person who has been on each the artist and business sides of the field, what would you inform aspiring musicians?
If you enjoy it, do it. Encompass on your own with buddies and make a new music scene. The much more you encompass your self with supportive individuals, the much more you brainstorm and percolate and make things, and then some of you may inevitably do a little something.
Of class, often betting the farm is a undesirable strategy. The pros who are actually accomplishing it, that’s a solitary digit proportion of people, right? You are not gonna get 50% of the persons in the entire world paying out their house loan with their guitar. But you gotta spend the hire. You can nonetheless make music, like what you do, and you surround by yourself with men and women that like it, far too. The tax collector isn’t fascinated in poetry, but it does not necessarily mean that you have to place your guitar in a coffin and bury it. It is critical to preserve tunes in your existence.
If you assume you can access a significant audience, then you have got to have a approach and search at where the communities are. You will need men and women on your workforce who are likely to get the job done just as difficult on the “get paid” side as you’re operating on the “be great” facet. But I normally inform my songs business pupils that you have to have enjoyable, since this small business doesn’t pay back very well sufficient for you not to have a superior time whilst you’re undertaking it.
What is the Northeastern tunes market program’s current pitch to potential college students—equally on the program by itself and the marketplace at significant?
There is a bunch of professors in the audio office, and I regard every single as a spoke in a wheel. Every of them brings their diverse passions and backgrounds to it, and as a end result, you have a wheel that in fact spins and carries body weight. You have all of these professors who are incredibly various from me, but we’re even now all into new music and I’m wowed by what they do. I’m really great at bringing my lawful, entrepreneurial, and creative skills to a selection of contexts, whereas an individual like Andrew Mall provides his analytical, musicological and ethnomusicological expertise to the table.
I’m now training “intro to tunes marketplace,” which I haven’t taught in a very long time but I started training once again considering that I turned the coordinator of the focus. In the initially class, I question the pupils, who right here has cried listening to songs? And immediately after like 10 seconds of on the lookout close to, mainly most people raises their hand. So then I say, who here has cried listening to audio in the previous month? Arms go up once more.
I convey to them to stick a pin in that for a second and just take in this phenomenon, that music can convey you to tears. I also was a political science big, but there is never a peer reviewed political science posting I at any time browse that introduced me to tears. There’s a little something about music that just conjures up, and that’s why it is really worth accomplishing.
How do you consider the songs field landscape is likely to search in the foreseeable future, given what you are observing appropriate now on campus?
The music marketplace focus would like to make believed leaders people who want to make the audio business better—less misogynistic, much more inclusive, and extra transparent. So we request the pupils, how do you effectuate alter as an individual, as an employee, as a startup, as a promoter? What are the options you can make? And I come across that the current learners are very anxious about creating the long term of the field far more inclusive, and more transparent, considerably less discriminatory, and kinder total. I have excellent faith in the students and great faith in music.
For media inquiries, make sure you speak to [email protected]