By Darren Paltrowitz
Successful as a stand-up comic, musician, author and host, Dave Hill is a proven quadruple threat. As a comic, he regularly hosts The Dave Hill Explosion at Upright Citizens Brigade beyond regular appearances on TV. As a musician, he is the voice and lead guitar behind Valley Lodge, whose song “Go” is the theme to HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, beyond playing with a wide array of folks that include Moby, Lucy Wainwright Roche, and Rival Schools’ Walter Schreifels. As an author, he had a collection of essays titled Tasteful Nudes published by St. Martin’s Press in 2012, with a new title for Blue Rider Press slated for release in 2016. As a host, beyond the acclaimed Dave Hill Podcasting Incident podcast, Dave is the voice behind WFMU’s The Goddamn Dave Hill Show. And weirdly enough, those are not all of his credits or projects.
Mr. Hill was very funny in his Q&A for the RIVER VIEW OBSERVER, also proving to be knowledgeable about the Jersey City area. Both original and driven, one cannot help but be in awe of all the work that the guy manages to get done. For more information on Dave Hill in the meantime, click on over to www.davehillonline.com.
RVO: You’re a comic, a musician, a host on radio and TV, a podcaster and an author. How do you usually identify when someone asks what you do for a living?
DH: I like to think of myself as a song and dance man. But on my tax retur,n I usually write “comedian who is also sweet at ripping guitar solos and stuff.”
RVO: When did you go to Jersey City for the first place?
DH: I was in a band from Cleveland called Cobra Verde and we played live in-studio at WFMU about 15 years ago. I think that was my first time in Jersey City. It was magical and also pouring rain and I really wished I hadn’t worn velvet pants that day, but life’s not perfect.
RVO: Do you have a favorite bar or restaurant in town?
DH: Raval is my favorite restaurant in Jersey City. Go there, and if you don’t like it, I will give you free lawncare for the entirety of 2016. And sometimes after my radio show, I’ll grab a drink at Iron Monkey around the corner from WFMU. They have a great beer selection and also two floors. That way if you get bored drinking beer on one floor, you can try drinking beer on the other floor and see how that goes.
RVO: How did you wind up with a show on WFMU?
DH: Tom Scharpling was leaving his Tuesday night Best Show slot, which created an opening in the schedule. I had been a big fan of WFMU and had appeared on a few shows like The Best Show, Seven Second Delay, and Evan “Funk” Davies’ show. Somehow my name came up and station manager Ken offered me the Tuesday night 9pm-to-midnight slot. The rest is either radio history, a decision station manager Ken deeply regrets, or perhaps some combination of both.
RVO: Did you grow up listening to a lot of free-form radio?
DH: Not really. Growing up in Cleveland, I listened to a lot of commercial rock radio as a kid and gradually got into college and public radio. And I grew up at a time when the Internet was just an abstract idea that only a few guys in lab coats were discussing in private somewhere, I’m guessing, so I couldn’t just stream crazy stuff from all over the world. I had to live with whatever I could pick up on my radio in the wilds of suburban Cleveland. We didn’t have anything like WFMU back in Cleveland, at least not that I was aware of. But then again, there isn’t anything quite like WFMU anywhere, really. It’s its own beast.
RVO: When is Valley Lodge next playing in the area? Any chance of a show at Monty Hall?
DH: I imagine we’ll play somewhere in New York soon, Mercury Lounge or somewhere. I’d love to play at Monty Hall but I don’t think that would happen as I think that would qualify as a conflict of interest since I have a show on WFMU. I could be wrong, though. But Valley Lodge played live on Evan “Funk” Davies a couple of times before I had my own show on the station.
RVO: Is there any hope for a reunion of Diamondsnake?
DH: I would love to, but it’s unlikely now that Moby lives in Los Angeles. Nash Kato from Urge Overkill played with us a few times after Moby moved, which was fun. He has some of the best rock moves of anyone I’ve ever seen. They’re not even moves, really, he just stands there looking cooler than everyone else. But as far as the “classic” Diamondsnake lineup goes, that could be tough.
RVO: Might there ever be a follow-up book to 2012’s Tasteful Nudes?
DH: Yes. In fact, I just turned it in today. It will be out on May 10, 2016 and will be published by Blue Rider Press, a Penguin imprint. I’m still scrambling to decide on a title.
RVO: Do you have a favorite album of 2015?
DH: I really like Might & Magic by this German metal band called Iron Kobra and also Ghost’s new album Meliora. I also like the new stuff by King Parrot, Author & Punisher, and Sleaford Mods. But mostly I’m still working on 2014. My favorite albums from last year are the self-titled Eyehategod album, Best of Boiler Room Classics by Mike Adams at His Honest Weight, and Johnny Marr’s Playland. There’s so much music over the last 60 or so years that I’ve missed though, I tend to dig into the past more than I check out what’s coming out now as most new stuff lately tends to either bore me or not sound enough like Slade to hold my interest. And now that I have access to the WFMU library, it’s an embarrassment of riches. I was just thinking the other day that one thing I know I can count on in life, other than the fact that I look great in a pant suit, is there will always be an endless amount of scorching hot jams for me to check out. Give me that and maybe a nice cheese plate and I’ll be fine.
RVO: Finally, what’s the best way that a person can support Dave Hill?
DH: Send me money (laughs). I am kidding. This is just one more example of the ease with which I am able to make a humorous joke. Unless you want to send money. Then I am deeply serious. In lieu of that, though, just check out what I’m doing on my website or wherever else and see if it might be up your alley. There are live shows all over the world, books, albums, radio shows, articles, this one weird thing I can do with a donkey, and other stuff too. Oh, and I sell T-shirts and other items that are priced-to-move on my website. And if for whatever reason, you don’t want anything to do with any of it, that’s totally cool and I got no beef with you. I’m able to make a living doing the stuff I love and my dog and I have the best time together pretty much 24/7, which makes me the luckiest guy in the world. The rest is gravy.