Interview: Showoff’s Dave Envy

Shut Up And Play: Tell me and future readers about yourself- musically and as a person. Was your childhood as musical as your adult life?
Dave Envy: Me as a musician and a person really are one and the same. I am a bass player above all other instruments- but can play all sorts of instruments. I actually started on guitar at a very young age, being taught by my father who dabbled as a singer-songwriter in his young adult years and still plays for personal enjoyment to this day. I grew up in a very musical household in the sense that listening to music was a constant. An art form even. My musical upbringing was more about music appreciation, understanding, and knowledge. I think to this day that I am a musician more because of the passion for music than the actual talent to perform it. I like to figure out how to exist as a musician in a song in the simple sense of serving the song. Providing what it needs… not see how flashy I can be. I want to be a part of music that I want to hear and enjoy. I also like to push limits. I want to see how far a song can be pushed while managing to maintain some sort of pop sense and structure.

SUAP: What was discovering music like for you?
DE: Discovering music initially was really uneventful. Just because it wasn’t so much discovery as it was normalcy in my house from birth. Discovering music and new artists to this day for me… it’s amazing. It is easy to come across stuff you like pretty well and that is exciting enough, but when you find something that you just connect with in a big way, there are no words to do the feeling justice. It just shakes you from the soul outward. Some examples that come to mind that I have had this moment with in the last bunch of years, like the first time I listened to Boy Eats Drum Machine, The Kooks, and of course Twenty-One Pilots.

SUAP: What or who made you fall in love with music? Was there a moment when you knew you were falling in love?
DE: My parents mostly shared their love. As I got older it was just growing and finding music I loved. As a kid we had a place down the road called Records Records Records. They sold new and used stuff. Bought from you and let you trade in towards other stuff. I would go there every few days. My friends and I would trade tapes and records with each other for days then all go to Records Records Records and trade in. I would always try to get stuff I had never heard of but that looked cool. I remember one very important moment that helped shape my musical tastes and direction that happened thanks to Records Records Records. I saw a cassette that was not familiar to me, but the simplicity of the cover really intrigued me. Yellow background with this simple line drawn character on the cover. I got it, brought it home, stuck it in my “ghetto blaster” and fell in love with I Don’t Wanna Grow Up by the Descendents. I instantly knew I needed to find more. That set me on the path for punk that wasn’t the Sex Pistols. I realized punk could still have pop sense (even though I didn’t know that term at the time, that’s what it was) plus humor and anger. It didn’t have to be all Anarchy in the UK, ya know. You could be pissed in one song and sing about farts the next. That is me and my life in a nutshell. Pissed off about everything, but always laughing until I puke at everything from farts to whatever else.

SUAP: As a fan first, what is your favorite band to see live?
DE: Best show I ever witnessed was Fishbone with Primus back in the mid-90’s. Those two bands at that time, together… nothing like it. Favorite band to see regularly would have to be The Queers. Just a great time, great songs and Joe is the man.

SUAP: Are there any bands that you weren’t really into at all until you saw them live?
DE: Honestly, Goldfinger. All the years Showoff was connected with Goldfinger and everything (producer) John Feldmann did for us and everything that band did for us, the years of touring together… I was never a fan of the band until we played our first few shows with them. There was no band that could put on a better, more solid show night after night. The consistency they brought was amazing. The energy! Man, no way another band could keep up with them back then. It made me a fan for life for sure.

SUAP: Touring. Dish the good, the bad and the ugly.
DE: Best part- Meeting people and making lifelong friendships. Hearing and seeing bands from other places. Getting to know whatever bands you are touring with. Excessive amounts of lovely people wanting to show you who they are or what they look like with their shirts off. Collecting trinkets people would bring and give me at shows when I meet them. I still have a giant storage bin full of everything everyone has ever given me- everything from bracelets to underwear, toys to pictures. Being able to see the world is awesome. I would recommend everyone just go out and see the world, so what better way to do that then play music with your best friends while seeing it?!

Bad- The strains it puts on you and your relationships within the band and outside the band. That creates a pretty negative head space sometimes, and once that sets in, tour can be a nightmare to cope with. Of course, looking back with years between it all, it’s not so bad, but the worst feeling I had on tour with Showoff was when it just wasn’t fun anymore. That was why I quit when I did back in the early 2000’s. I loved the music and playing, but got in such a negative space that it ruined it for me. I don’t think we were friends anymore for a while there and I hated that feeling. Another part that got to me while on tour was people who you would meet and they would tell me they loved me and I was “the best bass player ever” or stuff like that. I am in no way the best at what I do. Hardly what I would call good. So I started feeling like I was ripping people off. Like a fraud. Somehow it got in my head and to the point that the last few shows I played with Showoff in the late 2000’s I was sick to my stomach over it. Again, years since then, I am over that mindset. I know and accept my role and place and I love every moment of it.

Ugly- Being on tour is the greatest thing in the world, but real life and attachments outside of your band make it extremely hard at the same time. Plus being on tour, you are living the greatest distraction from the real world you can possible imagine, so your coping skills don’t develop like they should and you have reality knock you on your ass periodically.

SUAP: And that helped contribute to the breakup in the early 2000’s, from what I hear. But now you’re back with a new record, Midwest Side Story, for a limited release back on June 30th at the Brauerhouse. What are you feeling about it now that it’s out there?
DE: I feel relief and anxiety now that it’s out. It is SO long overdue and we put so much into it. I just hope people love it. And the show was like any other show, really. Great to see so many friends from years past and all the great people who we came up with in our little scene.

SUAP: Aside from the wide release of Midwest Side Story, is there a Showoff future?
DE: The future is, as always, open for whatever comes our way and what makes sense with where we are at and where we’re looking to go.

SUAP: What is the writing and recording like from the 1st to 2nd album? What changes? What stays the same?
DE: I think it is about the same other than we don’t jam on the songs nearly as much. So writing is more thought out and pre-planned after the first one. It’s hard to really justify the jump in how Showoff works from our first record to the one we are working on now. There was a huge gap in time and we all did other things, had other bands, made many other records. So we grew in how we work the process of making records, but we didn’t do it together. We started as amateurs and reconnected as somewhat professionals (for lack of a better term). What stays the same for me though is making sure whatever we do, Chris is happy with the results. This thing is his baby and he needs to be in love with the results of what we all do to participate in his vision.

SUAP: Does being successful affect the process?
DE: It puts a pressure on it all for sure. You have demands that you never had. You have to satisfy more than just yourselves. You have to work to not only do what you love but now satisfy your “customers”- whether that be fans or industry. It puts a set of standards of quality that you have to meet and exceed in order to continue to grow. It’s sometimes hard to balance that with the simple integrity of what you do for you, if that makes any sense.

SUAP: Segueing into the theme of this zine, what do you think of when you hear about Motown and Detroit rock city? Did you take any influence from our side of Lake Michigan?
DE: Detroit is certainly one of the greatest cities in the U.S. for changing the face of music in the world. Well I start with the origin when I think of Motown. The importance and progress it made and paved the way for not just in music but for people in general. One of the more important moments in music and human history. The song writers and producers of that era are also a huge deal. Folks like Lamont Dozier and the Holland brothers. The Funk Brothers who are the best studio musicians ever! The mindset they all had for making music. Keeping things simple. Focus on a solid rhythm section with killer melodies laid on top. Even in more recent years Detroit pushes limits musically. The artists to come out of the Detroit area have something special. Sadly I think so much comes from the conditions they are living in and surviving through…. But that stuff sure does make for great music. Look at some names that came out of Detroit. Marvin Gaye. Alice Cooper. Smokey Robinson. Gladys Knight. Del Shannon. Eminem. Grand Funk Railroad. MC5. I mean, I can name dozens off the top of my head!

SUAP: What are your Detroit memories, show and otherwise?
DE: I don’t remember ever doing too well in the Detroit area. It was fun to play but I don’t think we were too known there, so it was weird. I guess because it is so close to Chicago (where we are from) you expect it to be a given that there is a fan base. So I remember feeling a little bummed that it wasn’t the case. Now, older me knows better and understands it doesn’t work that way, but young, new to it all me, it really bummed me out. I do know some great people thanks to playing Detroit though! You included! I did also get to meet Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers while in Detroit once and he knew who Showoff was. That was pretty cool for me being a fan of the Uplift Mofo Party Plan era Chili Peppers.

SUAP: I remember years ago learning of girls breaking into a band’s tour bus and stealing personal items, getting caught and being banned by restraining order from coming to see that band, coming near them or their families or estates. Any wild fan stories to top that?
DE:There are always some nutty folks out there. I have witnessed some bizarre stuff. There was a guy who got in our RV in Bakersfield (CA) and was a little off. He suddenly pulled out a ball peen hammer from his pants. To this day I have no idea what his intentions were, but while riding down the road, we shoved him out the door.

I remember a few times over the years where a mother would “offer” her daughter to me or other band members. Some would also offer to be part of it. None were ever taken up on it (mothers or daughters). That’s just crazy to comprehend, especially as a parent myself. What is wrong with someone to go to a band and offer them their own kid for sexual relations?!

I don’t believe I have ever been a part of anything crazy enough to result in restraining orders or anything. Certainly plenty of times where you would be left looking at one another uncomfortably wondering what the hell just happened.

SUAP: Maybe this new record will bring something wild, Dave. We can only hope!

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