Dan Wilson on the Double Meaning In Semisonic's 'Closing Time' & Writing Hits for Others


Plus, Wilson debuts new music "Uncanny Valley."

More than 20 years later, Dan Wilson can nonetheless bear in mind the dialog he had with then MCA promotion govt Nancy Levin on the eve of the discharge of "Closing Time." The music turned out to be the breakthrough single for his band, Semisonic, and subsequently launched Wilson's profession as an in-demand songwriter and a solo artist.

"She stated, 'Are you excited?' and I stated, 'No, why?' And she goes, 'Because this music goes to be large.' And I stated, 'Well, I don't know that. How do we all know that?' She was actually aggravated with me, not as a result of I used to be being a killjoy, however she thought it was plainly apparent that this document was going to be large and I used to be simply assuming it might be similar to the final one."

"Closing Time" was the large hit on Semisonic's second album, 1998's Feeling Strangely Fine, which is being celebrated once more with a just lately launched 20th anniversary reissue. The album, expanded for the CD and digital launch with 4 B-sides, can be being launched on vinyl, marking the primary time one of many band's releases has been issued on vinyl.

Levin, who died in a dirt-biking accident in 2010, was right. "Closing Time" went on to high the Alternative Songs chart and garner a Grammy nomination for finest rock music. It subsequently helped push Feeling Strangely Fine to platinum gross sales. It additionally put Wilson on the map as a famous songwriter. All About Chemistry, the band's 2001 follow-up album, failed to achieve the industrial heights of its predecessor, but it surely notably contained "One True Love," a music Wilson co-wrote with legendary singer/songwriter Carole King.

"You can't actually determine what sort of lottery you're going to win," Wilson says. "Mostly I consider 'Closing Time' because the lightning of excellent luck that struck me. The good luck of the music was a lot greater than the great luck of the band, however the band was additionally very, very fortunate."

Semisonic, which additionally consists of bassist John Munson and drummer Jacob Slichter, by no means formally broke up. Following the discharge of All About Chemistry they went on an prolonged hiatus, however nonetheless often reunite for charity gigs of their hometown of Minneapolis.

Meanwhile, "Closing Time" continues to have a lifetime of its personal. It's appeared in a number of movies and TV exhibits, together with How I Met Your Mother, and has turn into a "final name" anthem of kinds.

A decade in the past, Wilson revealed that the music additionally has a which means that runs a bit deeper. It's partially impressed by the delivery of his daughter, Coco. "The guys wished a brand new music to shut our units with," Wilson says. "I believed 'Closing Time' can be an excellent title. We had spent seven years of our lives at that time, 4 nights per week entertaining individuals. That was our life. Some bouncers yelling issues, closing time coming, all that imagery, actually, that's how the music began after which once I was midway executed, I began realizing the entire thing was a pun about being born, so I simply made positive that the remainder of the factor may trip with that double which means, however no person obtained the joke and I didn't hassle to elucidate. I believed everybody would get it."

Some would possibly understand Semisonic as a one-hit surprise, however that isn't the case. "I feel there was a time that I used to be defensive" due to that notion, Wilson provides. Feeling Strangely Fine additionally included "Singing in My Sleep," which reached No. 11 on the Alternative Songs chart, in addition to "Secret Smile," which reached No. 13 within the U.Ok. and 21 on Alternative Songs. "For some time, I might form of irritatedly cite that we had one other large hit all over the place else, however then that was simply me saying I used to be a two-hit surprise," he provides. "You gotta transfer on sooner or later, and do different issues."

Still, Wilson acknowledges it was "Closing Time" that opened the door to these different issues. "Because all of the people who I co-wrote with, or the producers that I labored with, had all fortunately listened to that music 100 instances. So it made me seem to be an individual who may someway magically trigger lightning to strike," he says. "I additionally suppose it was the form of factor that the artists who labored with me all favored as a music. It wasn't like I wrote the most important responsible pleasure for the artists that I labored with. It truly was a music they dug, in order that creates some degree of belief and luxury. After some time, I had written a bunch of different issues, and people had been the issues that paved the way in which, however for some time, 'Closing Time' certainly did that."

Aside from working as a songwriter and producer, Wilson additionally continues to work as a recording artist. His 2017 album, Re-Covered, provides the very best overview of each of these worlds. It options Wilson's variations of co-writes initially made well-known by different artists, together with Adele's Grammy-winning chart-topper "Someone Like You," the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice," Taylor Swift's "Treacherous" and others.

Since the discharge of that set, Wilson is constant on each fronts. In September, he launched "We Ain't Telling," the primary of a collection of songs he plans to place out on a usually foundation, as an alternative of releasing a brand new album. Today Billboard is completely premiering Wilson's subsequent new tune, "Uncanny Valley," which he says, because the title suggests, is about residing within the Los Angeles suburbs. "I moved with my household to the San Fernando Valley in L.A. in 2011, and I’m nonetheless getting used to it," he says. "I discover L.A. to be heat, welcoming, impersonal, bizarre, and scary on the similar time. 'Uncanny Valley' is about what it's like for me to be a songwriter residing within the Valley in 2018."

On the songwriting entrance, greater than a half-dozen songs Wilson has co-written have been launched this 12 months, together with Steve Perry's "No More Cryin'" from the previous Journey singer's comeback album, Traces, in addition to songs by a various roster of artists together with Mike Posner, Jason Mraz, Brett Dennen, Missy Higgins, Leon Bridges and Halsey.

Working with Perry was a specific thrill for Wilson. "I'm a complete Journey fan," he confesses. "Steve nonetheless seems like Steve, so if you're making an attempt out concepts and you've got an incredible singer testing out these concepts with you, it's simply unbelievable. Creatively, Steve is a real-deal songwriter with an insanely, credible and superb songbook, in order that was completely cool."

Though their collaboration stayed within the vault for months, Wilson says, the soulful ballad was a late addition to the album, and ended up because the second single to be launched from the album.

And he's not solely working with veteran artists. "It's enjoyable for me as a result of mainly the identical week that [Perry track] got here out, certainly one of my songs that I did with Mike Posner and Ricky Reed got here out as a single, 'Song About You,' and it's getting performed on KROQ. It's form of a really present occasion, a brand-new music, very freshly written. The one I wrote with Steve I wrote some time in the past. There's one thing actually stunning to exist in each of these methods as a songwriter."