(photo by Emilio Delgado)
Dave Cook of My Favorite Highway generously let me interview him recently. Here's an in-depth look at one of the scene's fastest rising stars.
PPJ: Tell us your name, instrument, and favorite band.
Dave: My name is Dave, I sing and play piano and guitar for MFH. My favorite band is Maroon 5.
PPJ: How did My Favorite Highway begin?
Dave: The band formed in November of 2004. I had been away at school in Pittsburgh for two years and ended up coming back to VA to take some time off. Will asked me if I wanted to start a band with him, and since we were cousins I said yes. Years later, Brian joined the band in February of 2005 and then Bobby joined in March of 2006.
PPJ: How would you describe the kind of music you play?
Dave: Upbeat, fun and melodically infectious.
PPJ: Tell us a little bit about your songwriting process.
Dave: It really varies, I write the lyrics and melody, but the music can be written in many different ways. Sometimes we'll write an entire song during a practice without any lyrics or melody and then I'll take that home and finish it. Or sometimes I'll write the lyrics right on the spot, or be messing around on the piano and come up with something. It's an interesting process because I feel like we're always trying to re-invent the way we write in order to write better songs.
PPJ: Are any of you still in school? If so, how difficult is it to balance that with the band?
Dave: Bobby is the only member of the band who is currently in college, the rest of us tried, but it is really hard to balance. Bobby is a trooper, he goes to school in Lynchburg and drives back to Fairfax every weekend for practice and shows.
PPJ: Why don’t you play “Counterfeit,” “Steel City,” or “Harbor Bay” anymore?
Dave: Well... "Counterfeit" was our first song ever, and because it was the first song, naturally it's kind of immature in the way it was written and the lyrics aren't very good, and the music doesn't really go anywhere so we kind of tossed it out the window. We probably won't ever play that song again, haha or at least I hope so, I hate that song, haha.
"Steel City" is a great song, but it isn't finished yet, we've only played it once at a Jammin' Java show. You'll probably see this song recorded as a B-Side someday.
"Harbor Bay" is an old song that was never finished, it was very personal to me and I got to a point where I didn't really feel like sharing it anymore.
Picking which songs to play and record is a hard process, and you have to pick your best songs because you can only do so many and these are just songs we've grown apart from.
PPJ: What’s the weirdest thing a fan’s ever done for you?
Dave: Well, we had two girls fly here all the way from Seattle to be at our CD release show. That was crazy.
PPJ: You are sponsored by Naïve Clothing, who also sponsors bigger bands like Anberlin and Copeland. What is that partnership like?
Dave: All the guys at Naive are really great, I'm good friends with Josh who runs the company and he's a really great guy. They're a really small company and take good care of their bands.
PPJ: You guys are still unsigned, despite a huge amount of industry buzz. Why is that?
Dave: Signing a record contract is like marriage. It's not something you want to rush into, because you're basically signing your life away for the next 5 years. It's the weirdest experience I've ever been through. It's like bands and labels both play hard to get, it really is like high school romance. At this point we've met with just about every label you can think of. We have some things out on the table, and we're just trying to make sure we ink the right deal. Unfortunately I can't speculate as to which labels we're working with right now. It's a really long process, but you should be hearing about some stuff soon. Bottom line, industry buzz doesn't mean anything, that's what I've learned.
PPJ: Do you ever read what people write about you online? How do you deal with any negative feedback?
Dave: I'm pretty sure we eventually read most of everything online. I believe that all feedback is good feedback. Anytime anyone wants to say anything about us, good or bad, it's great because our name is getting out there. Not everyone is going to like your music, that happens. We're doing what we do for our fans.
PPJ: Will and Dave are cousins, while Bobby and Brian are brothers. Does that make things harder or easier?
Dave: Depends, we fight at times, but because we've grown up fighting with eachother we know how to make up.
PPJ: Has being from the DC area provided you with any noticeable advantages or disadvantages?
Dave: The sweetest thing is that we can play in Maryland, DC and Virginia, it's a big local fanbase. The disadvantage is that there isn't a beach nearby and that depresses me, but that has nothing to do with music.
PPJ: Can you tell us about any upcoming tour plans?
Dave: We'll be doing a full U.S. tour starting in May, and then we'll probably be touring full-time throughout the year from then on out.
PPJ: Do you have any plans to record more in the near future?
PPJ: What is your favorite venue to play at?
Dave: Jammin' Java, the 9:30 Club is amazing, but we've only played there once so I can't say it's my favorite because that would imply we've played it more than once, if we play it again, it will be my favorite, but until then, Jammin' Java.
PPJ: What inspires you, musically or otherwise?
Dave: Personal experience, relationships, movies - I get a lot of ideas from movies, books. Sometimes I'll make up fictional situations and write about them and they become songs, that's how "Bad Habits" was written.
PPJ: What do you hope to accomplish with MFH?
Dave: We hope to become a household name and take over the world within the next five years.
PPJ: And lastly, tell us three bands you think we should be listening to.
Dave: Steve Moakler, The Friday Night Boys, and Lorien. They're all good friends of ours and they're amazing.
Thanks again to Dave for taking the time to answer all these questions. My Favorite Highway's music can be heard on myspace, purevolume, and on tour.