Listen to: Local Rocker Dave Slomin and his Band ‘Waiting for Henry’

waiting for henry At what point do you decide the dreams you had in your youth need to be replaced by responsible, traditional goals? For Dave Slomin, lead singer of Waiting for Henry, the answer is never. Dave is about my age and has a typical suburban life with two kids, a porch and a boy scout leadership role. He also has an indie rock band. I saw them recently at the Mercury Lounge in NYC and it only took moments to forget the image of the dad walking his dog while reading his paper (something I’ve seen him do out my window almost every day since moving onto his street) and really see the artist/rocker come to life on stage.

I sat down with Slomin to learn more about his music, his journey and what’s in store.

So, Waiting For Henry is playing at the Mercury Lounge in NYC on Saturday, March 15th. Are you looking forward to the show?

Can’t wait. With CBGB’s gone, it’s one of the last great clubs still around in Manhattan. Great sound, great vibe and it’s right next to Katz’s Delicatessen! And we’re on early, at 9pm, ‘cuz we’re incredibly old.

Tell me about how the band got started.

Our bassist, Mike Chun and I were in heated rival bands in college at Colgate University back in the late 80s, so we knew each other but were on opposite sides of a Hatfields and McCoys thing. Then, when we moved to NYC in the 90s, we kept bumping into each other at shows and realized we had the same taste in music and actually didn’t hate each other. We became friends through that, but were, again both in our own bands. During that time, I had a band called Mr. Henry, which recorded and toured for almost 8 years. But rock and roll is the worst way to make a living, so once marriages and kids happened, we sold the band van! Then, years later, Mike and I, now each having no band, decide it was time to start one. After 3 years of searching for a drummer, we reconnected with my college band’s drummer, Dave Ashdown, and we got going.

Back in the day, what kind of success did you have? Did you have a big hit?

Well … success is all relative. Mr. Henry had enough success to make the monthly payment on our Dodge van and not run out of gas while on tour. We were lucky enough to have a great showcase at the Austin, TX South-By-Southwest festival in the early 90s and from that we got signed to EMI Music. It was pretty exciting to have the chance to have someone pay for us to make records (yes, I think they were still called “records” then) and to open for acts like Counting Crows and Iggy Pop and play some pretty big festivals around the country and Canada. But no mortgage payments came out of it.

As for hits… well that’s relative too. We made the Top Ten for about 15 seconds in Alabama and Georgia with a song call “One” (which is up on Spotify, I think???). Another tune which got a good bit of airplay was called “Lonesome Bus” and is one of the tunes, Waiting for Henry now does live.

Why did the band break up?

We spent years being right on the verge of making it out of the club set, but never could quite get over the fence. Probably for the best, ‘cuz I wouldn’t be here today in Ridgewood with my wife Kathy and our boys, Jack and Alex if we did. I’d be a lonely guy with a bad mullet, sound-checking in Cinncinati on some ‘Where Are They Now’ Tour?

It’s been a long time. Why start a band, why now?

Well, after not playing for a while, we put an 80s cover band together for a college reunion tent party and were reminded how much fun it is to play music. Once you took away the pressure of ‘having to make a living at it’ we remembered why we started bands back in high school… for the love of making music. It’s an incredible joy.

Waiting For Henry - 2013

Now, you are Waiting for Henry. How did that name come about?

Man, we spent two years on that. Was even harder than making the album! Went through dozens of names. Originally, it was gonna be a reformed Mr. Henry, but that just didn’t feel right, cuz it was a different band. Since it took so long, we came up with Waiting For Henry, which clicked. And then, when we found out that no one had ever used it and waitingforhenry.com was available for free… we grabbed it.

I know how hard it is with kids and a house and a real job! How the heck do you find the time to record?

Time to record was a true gift from our very patient wives. We found this great little studio called Exeter Recording in Springsteen’s hometown of Freehold and the engineer was so good, we made the trip routinely just to work with him. Was a nice escape and they had an awesome Chinese takeout place nearby, which is the hallmark of a great studio. In all, we took two years to record and mix the album, including a few weekends of concentrated time and then, basically one night a week for many months. We fit it in our work and family schedules. But it was a nice fountain of youth, to feel like a kid again one night a week.

What has the response been to the album?

It’s been pretty crazy and exciting for a bunch of old geezers. We made this little album basically to give to our friends and then, the Americana community picked up on it through blogs and radio. This big Americana site, The Alternate Route named Waiting for Henry one of their Top 30 Bands to watch, and Huffington Post called it a 2013 “Spring favorite.” It’s been getting radio play around the US and in Europe. Up here, Q104.3 NYC spun it a couple of times and our favorite kudo was getting put in heavy rotation at 90.5 WBJB down at the shore and then being voted to the #10 album of the year by their listeners. All unexpected and incredibly fun, especially that it’s happened by word of mouth on the blogs, as we are internet music neophytes.

I listen to the album and I think it’s great. Congratulations on all the airplay and recognition! What’s different about playing and recording this time around?

It’s different in that we are now doing it for the pure joy of making music. No pressure other than for the songs and the band to be really good. We’re at a place in our lives where this is the icing, rather than the cake… and I, for one, am happier for that. It’s also different in that the internet opens a lot of doors for independent music.

I know, music and its dissemination are so different now. What are the challenges and advantages to being an artist in 2014?

The good is that anyone can make their own album and put it up on iTunes or CDBaby.com. The bad is also that anyone can make their own album and put it up on iTunes… so there’s not a lot of editing going on. It’s harder to find the next Neil Young or REM. Overall, the industry really has very little paradigm right now, and no one really knows where it’s going or what to do, except that it’s expected that a band do everything themselves to break an album. But, the good news too is that the internet, with Spotify, CDBaby and blogs like AlternateRoot.com give indie bands a voice.

What’s your favorite song from the album?

“Buy American,” the first track, I like because the recording has pieces of so many artists that inspired me, with bits of Uncle Tupelo, The Replacements, Hank Williams and more all thrown in. Then, it came out exactly as we’d envisioned, which is so hard to do. It’s been cool that a lot of reviewers have picked up on the inspirations for that song. And lyrically, it’s about the financial crisis , which hit everyone in some way… so as an American, it’s personal.

What’s Next?

Go to work. Take the boys to Lacrosse. Run the Pinewood Derby for Pack 44 in a coupla weeks.

No, for the band …?

Well, we’re psyched for the Mercury Show in NYC on the 15th . After that, we’re at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park on April 3rd and we just got into Toronto’s big NXNE festival in June. Excited for that.

Dave, Kathy and the boys

Musically, we hope to win the Grammy for “Most Unknown Band.” No, hopefully Waiting For Henry will have another album or two out to the world. Then again, since my sons Jack and Alex play bass and drums, maybe I can get my wife Kathy to sing and start a Partridge Family cover band as a side project. Can Tips From Town’s investigative reporters track down Reuben Kincaid for us? Gotta pay for college somehow. 

 

I have a 12 year old daughter who wears a Waiting for Henry T-shirt to bed. You know, it is pretty cool to have a rock star across the street, but I am really hoping we won’t be seeing the Partridge Family bus parked in Dave’s driveway! Maybe, if they stick to what they seem to know so well, making good music, someday the old geezers, as Slomin likes to say, will be on the Grammys. Hey, you never know!

Tickets for the March 15th show at the Mercury Lounge are on sale now.

Waiting for Henry at The Mercury Lounge

Listen to Here Comes the Rain

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Physician, founder and president of Tips From Town. She loves combining all she learned as a doctor with all she continues to learn as a mom of five to bring you interesting, useful and fun information on the Family Pages.

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