"The hour glass is draining fast / it knows no future holds no past / and all this too will come to pass / never, forever, whenever."
"Sometime to Return" from 1988's Hang Time
Soul Asylum singer and guitarist Dave Pirner shakes his head and says, "Making this record verged on impossible. It couldn't have been more emotional and urgent and crucial. Karl was fighting for his life."
It'd been eight years since Soul Asylum had released an album when they found themselves reunited in their hometown of Minneapolis, recording a new CD on their own dime, while founding bassist Karl Mueller struggled with throat cancer. "It is impossible to bitch about anything when you are watching your best friend go through chemotherapy."
It is a set of circumstances that would have paralyzed any band, but over the course of 25 years together, Soul Asylum have developed a closeness and a toughness that carried them through. The result is The Silver Lining, a moving and tightly crafted collection of songs that showcases the band's gift for lyric and melody and the swirling guitar interplay between Pirner and the incredibly underrated Dan Murphy. It stands as a touching tribute to Mueller, who succumbed to cancer in June 2005, after a long and heroic struggle.
For Pirner, watching Mueller bravely face treatment charged the recording sessions with an intense sense of purpose and immediacy. "Karl really wanted to be there every day and play on the record," he remembers. "And he came in every day, and he never complained or caused a fuss. The adversity he was dealing with was beyond dramatic."
When Mueller became too sick to record, Soul Asylum reached back to their Minneapolis punk roots and enlisted longtime friend Tommy Stinson, bassist of the Replacements and current member of Guns N' Roses, to finish the sessions-with Mueller's blessing. Completed by powerhouse drummer Michael Bland (Prince, Paul Westerberg), the lineup is gearing up for an emotionally charged tour to support the album. "I'm sure we'll be going everywhere and anywhere," Pirner chuckles. Which will be nothing new for Soul Asylum.