Interview: Brian Dunne talks catharsis of songwriting, new album and influences
Jacob Blickenstaff

Americana musician Brian Dunne has been touring in support of his latest album, Bug Fixes & Performance Improvements, and will continue touring through the end of October, with more dates to come. He's currently been touring with some long-standing names like Joan Osborne, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and Brandi Carlile. Dunne's new record was produced by Dunne and draws inspiration altogether from The Band and Bob Dylan. In a recent press release, Dunne claims that he "made this record to play live. I wrote these songs while traveling around the country and nothing is better than bringing the music back to its natural habitat." We chatted with Brian about his current tour, his new album, and respect for some of his famous icons. Read on and discover more about this dedicated artist. 

AXS: You're on tour to support your new album throughout the end of October, what's the tour been like? 

Brian Dunne: The tour has been excellent.  We just added a whole bunch of new dates through December -- a handful with The Secret Sisters and some headline dates and whatnot.  I should be tired, but I'm really not.  I should probably have that looked at.  

AXS: Bug Fixes & Performance Improvements is definitely an eye-catching title...why did you go with it? 

BD: When I was writing the album, Bug Fixes was sort of a joke of a working title -- a sarcastic way of saying "It's getting better all the time -- it can't get much worse."  I'd put it on top of a piece of paper and write the songs I had below it, just to amuse myself.  But somewhere towards the end of the writing process, I started to realize that I needed to offer more of myself in my work.  It was the missing element in my previous stuff.  I was writing solid songs but they could've been written by anyone; I thought that was a good thing at the time, but looking back it sort of made the material forgettable or generic or something. I went back and re-wrote everything I had for this record, making sure my viewpoint was there, my sense of humor, the idiosyncrasies that populate my life. I figured if it struck me funny or kept my attention, then that might be the thing I was looking for.  So when it came time to slap a title on this thing, "Bug Fixes & Performance Improvements" was a no-brainer for me.  It's slightly cynical, slightly optimistic, slightly bombastic, slightly humble, and it's certainly not the title you'd expect. I like that.  

AXS: You're a very talented songwriter, writing about the complexities and realities of life. What kind of catharsis does songwriting do for you? 

BD: Well first, thank you. I appreciate that. Songwriting is the most enjoyable aspect of my career, I think.I get such a kick out of it, that sometimes I have to remind myself that it counts as work and it does ultimately pay my bills -- because otherwise, I'll feel like I'm slacking off, sitting on my couch on Monday afternoon just coming up with little melodies and rhymes and such.  I dig touring, and I get a real rush out of performing. Traveling is a bitch, but I do like talking to the locals in Tennessee, and drinking coffee in Seattle or whatever.  And record making is an art onto itself that I have learned to love. But songwriting for a living is still the coolest part.  And as far as catharsis goes, I'm pretty sure the writing is the only thing that keeps me sane. It is, and will always be a release.  Don't get me wrong -- I can certainly drive myself pretty mad about the stuff I'm writing if I'm not feeling it, and I go through periods of working manically, where it can become a bit of a burden. But I always come out the other side with a few things that I'm proud of.  

AXS: You have an utmost respect and regard for icons Bruce Springsteen, The Band, Lindsey Buckingham, and others....in what ways have each of these left their influential mark on you? 

BD: Those guys all made their mark on me in specific ways. Bruce Springsteen was my first hero -- and still is. The Band made their home in upstate New York -- where I'm from -- and that music just seeped into my bones. Lindsey showed me that being a guitar hero and tenor pop singer didn't need to be mutually exclusive ideas. But more than that, these guys showed me that at its core, greatness is a by-product of hard work. We all become musicians because it looks like a party. We stay musicians for reasons that run much deeper than that.  Along with Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, Leonard Cohen, and The Rolling Stones, these guys drew me into this cult -- and I am now radicalized and trying to convert others. 

For more information about Brian's music, tour and more, click here