Dave Simonett is feeling a little antsy these days.
His latest album, “Red Tail,” is all wrapped up and ready to go. It’s just waiting for that March 13 release date.
“I”ve had it done for a while so it’ll be nice to finally get it out to the world,” he said. “It’s been done almost a year. I did a lot of the recording myself.”
For Simonett, a Mankato native and graduate of East High School, this will be his first truly solo album. Though he still fronts the uber popular Trampled by Turtles and saw critical success with a side project called Dead Man Winter, Simonett says this project is a little different.
“It was kind of a complicated process,” he said.
When Simonett created Dead Man Winter (which produced the catchy and jangly tune “Destroyer” off the semi-autobiographical album “Furnace”) he said his intention was for Dead Man to be an “umbrella” under which would be all the non-Trampled work he was doing.
But in the process, Dead Man grew to develop an identity. A good identity, for sure, but an identity as an entity.
“It kind of became its own thing,” he said. “It’s a band, has certain people.”
His need for a corner of his creative life to not be necessarily populated by, or tied to, specific people, whoever they may be, remained. Hence the solo project with the definitive Simonett name.
“I wanted to be a little more open with who I played with,” he said.
“Red Tail” is a stripped down, mellow and extraordinary piece of work. Subtle, yet powerful, guitars will haunt you, such as in the final third of “Pisces, Queen of Hearts.”
“And maybe I was dreamin’,
Yeah I was younger then.
And I remember thinking that we would meet again,
In the space between the starlight and the treeline.”
Simonett’s voice on “Red Tail” may be the biggest achievement. He delivers the vocals with the patience and skill of a seasoned veteran. He sounds comfortable here, in a way that seems distinct from both Dead Man and Trampled.
The press materials sent by Simonett’s record label included a mini review of “Red Tail.” And while I normally don’t include this kind of stuff in my own reporting, I wanted to do so now because, quite frankly, it sums up the feeling of “Red Tail” as good, if not better, than I could.
“I had a chance to really dive into this record over my holiday travels,” All Eyes Media Margaret Willard wrote, “and it’s hard not to get lost in these eight songs. To me, they feel like a snapshot of home — not just Simonett’s literal home in Minnesota where ‘Red Tail’ was recorded, but more like a transferrable feeling of warmth that a lot of folks can relate to and make their own. With about a half-hour run time, it’s the kind of album you can easily play start to finish and take in as a whole.”
Margaret kind of nailed it. “Red Tail” feels like Minnesota in all the best ways.
Simonett, meanwhile, said his process wasn’t any different from other things he’s written.
“I feel like I write the same no matter what,” he said. “I’ve never really tried to write for a certain thing. The project shows itself as the process goes along.”
Many in southern Minnesota are familiar with Simonett’s story of success. But for those who aren’t, Simonett is a local guy.
“I was 17 when I bought my first guitar,” he said. “Bought it from the only guy I knew that played guitar.”
The first time he ever performed on a stage was at the former Jazz Club, which later became The Sugar Room, which later closed. The site is now Tandem Bagels.
“These guys let me come up and with play with them,” he said. “And after that I was kind of hooked. Hooked on making music with people and having that chemistry.”
He attended college in Duluth where he played in several bands. He also met the gentlemen that would become Trampled By Turtles. And the rest, as they say, is history.