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David Anthony Pirner (born April 16, 1964) is an American songwriter, singer, and producer best known as the lead vocalist and
frontman The lead vocalist in popular music Popular music is music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements ...
for the
alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1970s and became widely popular in the 1990s. "Alternative" refers to th ...
band
Soul Asylum Soul Asylum is an American alternative rock band formed in 1981 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their 1993 hit "Runaway Train (Soul Asylum song), Runaway Train" won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song. The band was originally called Loud Fast Rule ...

Soul Asylum
.


Early life and work

Pirner was born in
Minneapolis, Minnesota Minneapolis () is a city in the U.S. state of Minnesota. With a population of 429,954 as of 2020 United States census, 2020, it is the most populous city in the state and the 46th most populous in the nation. The county seat of Hennepin County, ...

Minneapolis, Minnesota
. He taught himself how to play the drums. By age 20, Pirner started his career drumming with a
punk band Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s. Rooted in 1960s garage rock, punk bands rejected the perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They typically produced short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies ...
called Loud Fast Rules as part of the Minneapolis scene, together with Karl Mueller (bass) and Dan Murphy (guitar). When Pirner switched to singing and playing rhythm guitar, Pat Morley joined on drums. Morley was later replaced by Grant Young, and the band changed their name to Soul Asylum. After touring the United States for a number of years they gathered a cult following of fans, but did not quite reach commercial visibility. Pirner at the time was the band's songwriter and he produced the album, ''Coup De Grace,'' by the Minneapolis
metal A metal (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
band the Coup de Grace in 1990.


Commercial success

The band achieved commercial success and visibility on
MTV MTV (originally an initialism of Music Television) is an American cable channel Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of th ...

MTV
and
VH1 VH1 (originally an initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning ...

VH1
with the 1993 single "
Runaway Train A runaway train is a type of railroad incident in which unattended rolling stock The term rolling stock in the rail transport Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehi ...
", followed by another hit song, " Black Gold"; both from their album ''
Grave Dancers Union ''Grave Dancers Union'' is the sixth studio album by the American alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of rock music that emerged from the independent music under ...
''. As Soul Asylum grew in popularity, Pirner was seen guesting on albums of differing
genre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a Category of being, category of literature, ...

genre
s, including artists like
Paul Westerberg Paul Harold Westerberg (born December 31, 1959) is an American musician, best known as the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for The Replacements (band), the Replacements. Following the breakup of the Replacements, Westerberg launched a sol ...

Paul Westerberg
, Jason Karaban,
Mike Watt Michael David Watt (born December 20, 1957) is an American bassist A bassist, or bass player, is a musician who plays a bass instrument range. Image:Mozart k545 opening.svg, 300px, tones of low (also called "deep") frequency, pitch (musi ...
,
The Autumn Defense The Autumn Defense is an American indie rock Indie rock is a genre of rock music Rock music is a broad genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music ind ...
and
Victoria Williams Victoria Williams (born December 23, 1958) is an American singer, songwriter and musician, originally from Shreveport, Louisiana Shreveport ( ) is a city in the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), ...

Victoria Williams
. His disheveled appearance and blonde matted dreadlocks made an unmistakable impression on fans and critics alike, making Pirner easily recognized and associating the band with the grunge scene. By 1999, Soul Asylum went into hiatus after making their eighth album ''
Candy from a Stranger ''Candy from a Stranger'' is Soul Asylum Soul Asylum is an American alternative rock band formed in 1981 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their 1993 hit "Runaway Train (Soul Asylum song), Runaway Train" won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song. Th ...
'' (1998), which sold the fewest copies of the three albums most recently released at that point (after ''Grave Dancers Union'' and ''
Let Your Dim Light Shine ''Let Your Dim Light Shine'' is the seventh studio album by American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (U ...
'' (1995), which yielded the big hits " Misery" and " Just Like Anyone"). After four years, Soul Asylum reunited and started writing songs in the studio. Bassist Karl Mueller died on June 17, 2005, at the age of 42 from
esophageal cancer Esophageal cancer is cancer Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. These contrast with benign tumor A benign tumor is a mass of cells Cell most ...
. About a year after his death, Soul Asylum released '' The Silver Lining'' on
Legacy Recordings Legacy Recordings is an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other se ...
, which was dedicated to Mueller. About half the songs on the album were recorded with the late bassist, such as "Lately", "Slowly Rising" and "Standing Water". The first hit from this album was "Stand Up And Be Strong". Soul Asylum toured with their new line-up, which consisted of Pirner on guitar and vocals, Dan Murphy on lead guitar,
Michael Bland Michael Bland (born March 14, 1969) is an American musician best known as a drummer for Prince A prince is a Monarch, male ruler (ranked below a king, grand prince, and grand duke) or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family ...
on drums and
Tommy Stinson Thomas Eugene Stinson (born October 6, 1966) is an American rock musician. He came to prominence in the 1980s as the bass guitarist for The Replacements (band), The Replacements, one of the definitive American alternative rock groups. After thei ...
on bass (as well as John Fields standing in on bass and piano for Mueller). A few years later, on July 17, 2012, Soul Asylum released an album titled Delayed Reaction. In 2016, the band released Change Of Fortune and in 2020 released Hurry Up And Wait. Pirner had a small role in the film ''
Reality Bites ''Reality Bites'' is a 1994 American Romance film, romantic comedy-drama film written by Helen Childress and directed by Ben Stiller. It stars Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke and Stiller, with supporting roles by Janeane Garofalo and Steve Zahn. The pl ...
'' in 1994. He was also part of the all-star band assembled for the soundtrack of the 1994 film ''
Backbeat In music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated c ...
''. Pirner also contributed to the soundtrack of
Kevin Smith Kevin Patrick Smith (born August 2, 1970) is an American filmmaker, actor, comedian, comic book writer, author, and podcaster. He came to prominence with the low-budget A low-budget film or low-budget movie is a motion picture shot with litt ...

Kevin Smith
's 1997 film ''
Chasing Amy ''Chasing Amy'' is a 1997 American Romance film, romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Kevin Smith and starring Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, and Jason Lee (actor), Jason Lee. The film is about a male comic artist (Affleck) who fal ...
'' with an instrumental song called "Tube Of Wonderful". There are two songs by the band Soul Asylum featured in the film: "Lucky One" and "We 3". Pirner also composed the incidental music for the film. The song "Can't Even Tell" is featured in Smith's ''
Clerks A clerk is someone who works in an office. A retail clerk works in a store. Office holder Clerk(s) may also refer to a person who holds an office, most commonly in a local unit of government, or a court. *Clerk (municipal official) *Court clerk * ...
'', and Smith used "Misery" in the sequel, ''
Clerks II ''Clerks II'' is a 2006 American comedy film A comedy film is a category of film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painti ...
''. In 2002 Pirner released his first solo album entitled '' Faces & Names'' on Ultimatum Music. He also contributed guest vocals on the song "Chillout Tent" in
The Hold Steady The Hold Steady is an American rock band originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, now based in Brooklyn, New York, formed in 2003. The band consists of Craig Finn (vocals, guitar), Tad Kubler (guitar), Galen Polivka (bass), Bobby Drake (drums), Fr ...
's 2006 release, ''
Boys and Girls in America ''Boys and Girls in America'' is the third studio album by The Hold Steady, released on October 3, 2006 by Vagrant Records. On August 18, 2006, first single "Chips Ahoy!" was released as a free download from music site Pitchfork Media. The second ...
''. In 2020 he released the book Loud Fast Words: Soul Asylum Collected Lyrics and when the pandemic stopped the tour Soul Asylum was making for their new album, Pirner and the band's guitar player Ryan Smith played 100 original songs on weekly Facebook streams that were called The Quarantine Sessions.


Personal life

Pirner started dating actress
Winona Ryder Winona Laura Horowitz (born October 29, 1971), known professionally as Winona Ryder, is an American actress. She is the recipient of List of awards and nominations received by Winona Ryder, several awards, including a Golden Globe Award, and h ...

Winona Ryder
after the pair were introduced at Soul Asylum's performance on ''
MTV Unplugged ''MTV Unplugged'' is an American television series on MTV MTV (originally an initialism of Music Television) is an American cable channel that launched on August 1, 1981. Based in New York City, it serves as the flagship property of th ...
'' in 1993. They broke up three years later. Pirner lived in Bywater,
New Orleans New Orleans (,New Orleans
, Louisiana for a time and still maintains a residence and recording studio in New Orleans. He also maintains a residence in Minneapolis. He has a son, Eli, with his ex-wife.


Discography


Solo

*2002: ''
Faces & Names'' (Ultimatum Music)


Guest appearances

*2006:
The Hold Steady The Hold Steady is an American rock band originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, now based in Brooklyn, New York, formed in 2003. The band consists of Craig Finn (vocals, guitar), Tad Kubler (guitar), Galen Polivka (bass), Bobby Drake (drums), Fr ...
– "Chillout Tent" (''
Boys and Girls in America ''Boys and Girls in America'' is the third studio album by The Hold Steady, released on October 3, 2006 by Vagrant Records. On August 18, 2006, first single "Chips Ahoy!" was released as a free download from music site Pitchfork Media. The second ...
'') *2014:
Within Temptation Within Temptation is a Dutch symphonic metal Symphonic metal is a cross-generic style designation for the symphonic subsets of heavy metal music Heavy metal (or simply metal) is a genre of rock music Rock music is a broad genre of ...

Within Temptation
– " Whole World Is Watching" ('' Hydra'')


References


Bibliography

*


External links

*
Dave Pirner at MinneWiki
* The Soul Asylu
Band Files
are available for research use at th
Minnesota Historical Society.Career Retrospective Interview from February 2016 with Pods & Sods
{{DEFAULTSORT:Pirner, Dave 1964 births
Living people Related categories * :Year of birth missing (living people) / :Year of birth unknown * :Date of birth missing (living people) / :Date of birth unknown * :Place of birth missing (living people) / :Place of birth unknown * :Year of death mi ...
American male singers American rock drummers Grammy Award winners Musicians from Minneapolis Columbia Records artists Singers from Minnesota 20th-century American drummers American male drummers Soul Asylum members 20th-century American male musicians American baritones