Still having a blast
"The one weird thing about being a musician - one of the weird things, that is - is that certain people that you know, and that you're close with, have lifestyle issues. And at a certain age, people involved in those lifestyles tend to have a really short life," said singer-songwriter and punk-roots-rockabilly guitarist extraordinary Dave Alvin, who is currently on tour with The Knitters, Exene Cervenka's and John Doe's non-X project. "Then one day you reach middle age, and your friends start dying just from natural things. That's kind of what this new album is about. It's a combination of a lot of that stuff. It's not just about mortality, but also about surviving and keeping your love about you, for lack of a better term. It's about keeping your spirit together and not letting your spirit get completely destroyed by, you know, the sort of things that life throws at you."
Since he was a teenager, Alvin's spent more of his life on the road touring than he has at home, starting with his time in The Blasters, with brother Phil Alvin.
"I'm my own manager now, so my day consists of driving, phone calls, checking into motels, sound check, gig, driving, phone calls, checking into motels, et cetera, et cetera," he said. "I don't think even gypsies would choose to live like this.
"But, you know, on the other hand, for guys like me that can do this for a living - well, I feel extremely fortunate. I've been able to do it for 22 years. I've been on the road, a touring musician, for 22 years. That's very lucky."
With all the 1980s bands getting back together and touring again, can we expect to see a Blasters reunion anytime soon? "Well, we did that a few years ago, like two and a half years ago," Alvin said. "Rhino Records put out a double-CD set of everything we recorded for Warner Brothers, and Rhino had asked me to be involved with tracking down the tapes and old photographs and all the jazz, so while I was doing it, I was thinking, 'There's no reason why we can't play some shows together.' So we did, like, two little tours on the West Coast, from San Diego to Seattle, and then we did Chicago over to New York, and it was fun. I would never do it as a full-time job, and I would never sit down and write 10-12 songs for the band, you know. That's not going to happen.
"The one drag about the reunion gig is that my brother goes around with a band and calls it the Blasters, so people think it's the original, when it's not, and it creates some confusion. But we did do a couple of gigs together a few years ago, and it was fun; and we'll probably do a couple more before we all die, which hopefully will be a long time from now."
For now, though, he's firmly entrenched in The Knitters, which will be coming through town to celebrate the release of their newest album, "The Modern Sounds of the Knitters" (Rounder Records).
W Aug. 3, 8 p.m. First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N. $18 in advance, $20 at the door. 332-1775, www.first-avenue.com.