By Jonny Cragg Special to Published Dec 04, 2014 at 2:29 PM

SEATTLE – I first met Dave Pirner somewhere in the Midwest, in a parking lot, between Prevost tour buses. Probably at a big concert sponsored by a big radio station.

We had a friend in common, my then tour manager Lew Kiner. He seemed nice enough, in fact, nicer than he needed to be. I think Wynona Ryder was there somewhere and he was considered something of a big shot on the Alt Rock scene of the mid ‘90s.

Almost 20 years later I found myself sharing beers, stories and music with him on the Summerland Tour. The band, of course, has seen a few changes over the years, but in no way disappoints; of all the bands on the bill, Soul Asylum seems to me the most timeless, the most "rock 'n’ roll" sounding.

In researching this interview, I realized the band has had more than its fair share of tragedies, and Dave, for his part, has never been shy to stand up and be counted when it comes to helping those in need, through his music.

Since Soul Asylum will release a new album in 2015, I checked back in with him and asked a few questions for the readers. Can you tell me some of your enduring memories of Milwaukee?

Dave Pirner: Well, my father was born and raised in Milwaukee so I have lots of memories of the place. My first-ever train ride was to Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Public Museum was a part of my childhood.

OMC: What are your favorite Midwestern brews?

DP: Old Milwaukee is definitely one of the more reliable and affordable brews in the Midwest, although during high school we'd get 24 bottles of Pfeiffer from Minnesota for $4.99!

OMC: So the band has been together since 1983 – you must have seen some ups and downs on the Minneapolis scene over the years. What are your impressions of what is going on now?

DP: Well, I defer to Michael Bland (current Soul Asylum and former Prince drummer) on this one. He has more of a pulse on Minneapolis than I do because he still lives there (Pirner moved to New Orleans in 2002). But he came from a completely different camp from the one I do. The Replacements being one camp and Prince being the other. So between the two of us we always knew someone who's involved in something: There's a hip-hop situation there with artists called Doomtree and Atmosphere.

OMC: How was your experience of Summerland overall?

DP: I was pleasantly surprised, and I realized that about a third of the way into it. I was a little bit on the fence when it first came up and the other guys were like, "let’s just go for it." So I said, "as long as you guys are in I'm in!"

Now I'm glad I listened to them because this is the first time that Soul Asylum are back to where we were before the sh*t hit the fan; touring around the country like it was your day job. Because once Karl (Mueller, bassist and founding member who succumbed to cancer in 2005), things just got kinda f*cked up.

OMC: In light of this, it’s not surprising that you took great comfort from a long run of successful shows with no fatalities.

DP: I was like holy sh*t! I'm still doin' it! This is great! I couldn't believe we were doin' what you need to do to put on a good rock show.

It helped to have the kind of teamwork that Summerland had, and I didn't expect that was gonna happen. I was not happy to play for half an hour, but in retrospect, you are playing to the strength of value. You get four bands in three hours and you're gonna be home by midnight.

I liked hanging out in the parking lot and that would have really sucked if it had been with a bunch of a-holes, you know?

Jonny Cragg Special to

Jonny Cragg was born in Hythe England on July 18th 1966. Raised and educated in Yorkshire he chose Leeds as his spiritual home. Whilst at school he learned to play the drums, playing in local bands until opting to study Psychology at the University of East London in 1985.

Almost by accident his first job after graduation was back behind the drums for Leeds band The Hollowmen. They recorded four studio albums, signed to Arista Records, and toured extensively throughout Europe. A press trip to New York served to strengthen his resolve to move to the States, and that finally happened in the Spring of 1993. By the following year, Cragg had formed Spacehog with a group of Leeds expatriates in The Lower East Side: The group went onto sell millions of records, and tour the world to great success. He remains active in the group having made four studio albums to date.

Jonny is also a session musician, producer, writer, DJ and educator. His credits include: The Pierces, Supergrass, Edie Brickell, The Utah Saints, David Johansen and Richard Butler and Marty Wilson Piper, HBO, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

He has two daughters, Laila and Domino, and lives with his partner in Seattle.