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Season 4

Episode 16: “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.”: a conversation with Dave Herlihy

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

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Dave Herlihy November 2023 recording this interview

Dave Herlihy is an Intellectual Property/Entertainment Lawyer, a Teaching Professor on the Music industry at Northeastern University, a songwriter, and the leader/vocalist/guitarist of O Positive. We talk about his return to songwriting, his hits with the band, working with limited time, in both the daily sense and life sense, and how Dave instructs his classes in leading a musical life.

We begin by talking about Dave’s instruction on ‘heartbeat physics,’ positing heartbeats as a form of life currency. He talks about how hard it is to get noticed among the 120,000 songs uploaded to Spotify each day. The importance of having a team is emphasized in the enormous endeavor of getting noticed among the hundreds of millions of songs in the air.

Dave mentions how he recently has started writing songs again without any expectations. Club owners need people in the club, and those people usually need to be drinking. Jim plays a clip of a song from his new album Postcards From Kindergarden Vol. 1, 86 years. We talk about the idea of internal age and waiting for the dad download to transform us into what we are. Lionel mentions our conversation with Phil Broikos and his project A Day In Music, specifically, the song about Back To The Future. Dave says he focuses more on what we do with our time, and still being here, rather than the morbid dread of the clock ticking out.

We switch to Dave’s song The Invisible Girl, and the process of getting that guitar sound. Dave says it's by Jeff Neumann from The Filters. Dave mentions that he and Jim will be doing a show at Club Passim in February. Dave talks about the process of recording with Epic Records back when O Positive had a record deal with them, Jim plays Imagine That, arguably the big hit from that record. Dave talks about working with Pete Walsh and switching out drum heads between takes.

We talk about getting a vocal take right with minimum takes to keep the lines fresh, valuing verve over perfection. Jim relates that experience to his time in Iceland and working with Dan Cantor at his studio. Dave says he’s been working toward doing things alla prima. He says he's remixing a recording of O Positive songs from a cassette recorded at WERS in the 90s with Dan. Dan has software not unlike what was used on the recent Beatles single to separate out the tracks from the old recording and remix them.

Dave invites Jim to write a new song with him. He says he’s been cowriting with as many people as he can. We talk about songs as postcards, the inspiration behind Dave’s new album. Jim mentions that there is a song from an O Positive album Toy Boat, Toy Boat, Toy Boat that lives in his head to today.

We close by talking about the origins of music in the human species. Lionel mentions his reactions to watching both Stop Making Sense, the remastered version, and Home of The Brave. We end on an awkward note.