Dave Buker and the Historians Heirlooms Album Release with special guest Wiloh takes place on the Music Hall Stage at Natalie’s Grandview on Friday, June 2. Seated tickets are $12 in advance, $15 on day of show. Standing room general admission is $10. For more details, visit https://nataliesgrandview.com/events/dave-buker-and-the-historians-heirlooms-album-release/
For over a decade, Dave Buker and the Historians have been releasing thoughtful, melodic, Americana-inspired music and playing shows at venues like Natalie’s, The Rambling House, the Big Room Bar and Brothers Drake Meadery. Their dedication to the songwriting craft has earned the band airplay on local stations like CD 92.9 and WCBE and presented opportunities to perform at the Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati and open a CD.9 show on a bill that included Spoon, Alvvays, and The Aces.
On June 2, the band will celebrate the release of it’s fourth full-length album, Heirlooms, will a headlining show at Natalie’s in Grandview. If you check out the band’s Instagram account, they’re running a contest to win 2 tickets to the release show plus two $25 Natalie’s gift cards but time is of the essence. Entries must be received by 11am on June 1.
Dave took some time to answer some questions we sent via email.
The Columbus music scene is somewhat transient, probably due to the numerous colleges in the central Ohio area. Bands form, play around town, kids graduate, band breaks up. You’ve made it more than a decade. What do you attribute the staying power to?
That’s a very good question. It’s been 13.5 years, and it’s weird to think about how long it has been. I suppose you could say we’re lucky, and we are, but I think the truth is that the strong bonds we have and the trust we have in each other has kept us together. Joe, Leanna, and I have been playing together for a very long time – for me, playing with my closest friends and my wife makes it really feel like a family project. We all also really believe in what we do, and as long as we continue to feel that way, we’ll continue to make music together.
What are some of the best things – or your favorite things – about the Columbus music scene?
I think that Columbus musicians are very fortunate to have radio stations that are willing and eager to support local music. We have close relationships with CD929 and WCBE (who is presenting our June 2 release show at Natalie’s Grandview) and their support has meant a lot to us over the years.
I’m guessing we’ve got another year or so of “pandemic” albums making their way to the general listening public before the post-pandemic albums start surfacing. How much of the new album was written in 2020/2021, if any of it?
Although I had been picking at some of these song ideas for a while, the writing process started in earnest in the winter/spring of 2021. That wasn’t necessarily a result of the pandemic, but it did occur somewhat concurrently.
What was recording like this time around and how did it compare to previous recording efforts?
At the start of the pandemic, while we were isolated from each other, we decided to record an EP of cover songs called Costumes. Although we took on that project to keep ourselves busy, it ended up being a great way to hone our home recording skills and we carried that forward over the following year, investing in gear that would allow us to record more and more in our home studio (which we now call Maple Catacombs). As a result, we were able to record a lot of our new album, Heirlooms, ourselves, which gave us a lot of opportunity for experimentation. We also recorded with Tony Rice at Oranjudio and mixed the album with James Harker at Moonlight Audio.
I recently heard a discussion about how TV shows and movies – for the most part – acted like Covid never happened. You didn’t see characters wearing masks and there weren’t any plots about the pandemic. I’m not a Grey’s Anatomy watcher but I think I heard that they run a disclaimer that says something like, “This show exists in a universe where Covid never happened.” I’m not good with interpreting lyrics but does Heirlooms exist in a non-Covid universe or are there lyrics that are directly or indirectly related to the last 3 years?
I can’t say that there are songs that are specifically about the pandemic, in the sense that there aren’t songs about the importance of vaccinations or masks. But the songs are largely personal, and we lived through the pandemic like everyone else, so there is certainly a subconscious reflection of the pandemic. Some songs on the album deal with mental health struggles and those issues were often amplified by the isolation/anxiety caused by the pandemic.
Is there a theme throughout the album or is this just a collection of songs written over the last few years that you fit together for a full album?
The title Heirlooms comes from a line in the song “Stubborn Blood”, which is about inherited mental health issues – the idea that those issues become your responsibility even though they aren’t your fault. “Demons” is similar in its context. That’s not the focus of every song but the focus on things that we come to better understand with time, like an heirloom, carries through most of them.
While I was familiar with the band name, my introduction came via the “Stubborn Blood” video which blew my mind due to the fact that you shot it in the VRBO that we rented for Thanksgiving. I literally saw the video two or three weeks after we had stayed in that house. Who came up with the idea for the video? Do you have video making down to a science where you can get everything you need in a short amount of time or do you shoot a bunch of stuff and hope you’ve got something?
I am a videographer/editor by trade, and we work with similar professionals when making a music video, so it’s become somewhat of a scientific process for us. By that, I mean that we follow the process of writing a treatment, developing a script, storyboarding it to the pace of the song, spending time on post effects, etc. We like to use music videos to tell a story, and I think that’s why we have so much fun making them.
You’ve got a lot of performance videos on your YouTube channel. Those are great ways to document the band. Is there one particular performance video that really nails who you are (or who you were)?
It’s tough to choose, but the video of our 10th anniversary performance stands out to me. We just had a lot of energy that night – and it occurred in January 2020 so it was the last big show we did before the pandemic.
Between playing Bunbury and the CD92.9 show opening for Spoon, which of those made you feel like a legit rock star and why?
They both did, for different reasons. Sharing that stage with Spoon and playing for that audience is something I’ll always remember. But at Bunbury, we got passes to the catering tent and some of us ended up eating at a table next to The Shins!
I couldn’t find a great document of your concert experiences but bandsintown.com shows a number of shows for you. Mostly in Columbus. Understanding that playing a new city where nobody knows you is a costly effort and likely not worth it, do you have dreams of doing any sort of touring, even if it’s just a short run of Ohio dates?
We hit some places shortly before the pandemic (like Chicago) that I’d like to get back to in the next year. Playing around Ohio is something we’re working on for the rest of 2023 so hopefully that will happen as well. Honestly, we’ve been so focused on the album that we haven’t thought a lot about touring.
I saw the Killers cover you did on YouTube (it was great). Would you ever have any interest in participating in one of those shows where a local band covers an entire album from a national band? If so, what would you be interested in covering?
Absolutely. We’ve had the opportunity to perform sets of Tom Petty and Bee Gees songs for CD929 charity shows, and those were a lot of fun. It’s tough to pick an album but my first thought was Hard Promises by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
June 2 is the release show at Natalie’s Grandview. Will you be playing all the songs from Heirlooms? Are there any songs that may be harder to play live than others?
We’re planning to start our set by planning Heirlooms in its entirety, which has been really exciting during rehearsals. I can’t say that some songs are necessarily more difficult to perform than others but some definitely don’t have a tone that would be right for every show. So it’s nice to celebrate the release by playing them all…there are a few that might not be performed very often in the future.