dada (spelled in all lowercase letters), made up of singer/guitarist Michael Gurley, singer/bassist Joie Calio, and drummer Phil Leavitt, formed in the late 1980s, but hit it big in 1992 with the release of Puzzle. The band released three more albums (American Highway Flower in 1994, El Subliminoso in 1996, dada in 1998), before taking a short break to work on solo projects. In 2004, the band released a new full-length, How To Be Found, and the A Friend of Pat Robertson EP in 2006. A new album was supposed to be completed in 2010, but was never completed.
The band is currently on their first full-length tour since 2004. They will be playing songs spanning their entire career, including new music and tracks they have never played live.
Supporting them on the tour is 7Horse, a new project from band members Joie Calio and Phil Leavitt.
I had the opportunity to correspond with Phil Leavitt via email to find out more about being a band for 20 years, Puzzle, the tour, 7Horse, and the future of dada.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of your debut album, Puzzle. How does it feel to have been making music together for that long?
I think 20 years is a milestone worth celebrating. I'm proud that the three of us have stuck together and that we have the chance to bring our music to our very devoted audience. They are a big reason why we're still here.
What do you think it was about Puzzle that launched the band to prominence?
"Dizz Knee Land" is the song that really put us on the national stage but for fans of Puzzle it's usually not the song they talk about. I think the record as a whole still sounds fantastic and the songs really hold up. The vocal harmonies, the guitar work and the songwriting were really unique for the time. It set us apart from a lot of bands that debuted in that era.
This is also your first full-length tour in nine years. What is it like being back out on the road together?
Being out on the road for the 20 Tour has been really great so far. I don't think the band has ever sounded better and we still really enjoy being together. Life on the bus is good.
During this tour, you will be playing songs from your entire discography, including new ones and ones you’ve never played live before. What is the live show experience like for you? What should people attending the shows expect?
People should expect to hear songs from all across our discography and certainly the highlights from "Puzzle". We've also taken a new look at some songs we haven't played in a while. We're doing a cover of a '60s classic that is really cool. For me the live show is about experiencing the energy that the band and audience can generate together. There's really nothing like it.
You’re taking your new project, 7Horse, to the people on this tour. Could you tell me a little about the new project and the debut album?
7Horse is really a labor of love for Joie and I. We had been talking about doing something different, something more stripped down and primal for a while and when we went in the studio it came together very quickly. It's kind of the opposite side of the coin from dada. It's a guitar/drums duo. Rock and roll, blues and classic country are the flavors. Where dada is kind of heady, 7Horse is all about what goes on below the belt. The album is called "Let the 7Horse Run" and the first single "Low Fuel Drug Run" got quite a bit of radio play. We did about 50 dates on the road last year and we're really excited to be bringing it to dada's audience on this tour. We're opening the show so for those that get there early, they see a totally different side of our music. The audiences so far have really enjoyed it.
What sets 7Horse apart from dada musically?
I don't sing much in dada but I'm singing most of the lead vocals in 7Horse. Joie plays bass in dada and is playing slide guitar in 7Horse. It is two totally different sounds and attitudes.
What lies in the future for dada? Are there any plans to release a new album?
People ask about a new dada record all the time. I think this tour has given the band a jolt of energy to pursue that. When? I honestly don't know. We'll finish this tour first and see what we want to do next. I think we've got another great record in us. I know our fans want it.