The Gunship front man answers 13 questions on "Aim for the Head," tonight's Zombie Extravaganza release party and more

By Adam Scott

entertainment editor

pop: Is there a theme to the "Aim For The Head" EP?

Dave McDaniel: Well, not especially. It has a cover that has zombies on it as such and the title track 'Aim for the Head' is kind of related to that. The songs are ones that didn't fit on our previous album and probably won't fit onto the next album because it's going to have more of an overall theme, an 'end of the world' kind of theme.

But these songs, they're not what I'd consider throwaway B-sides or anything like that. Although I will say the unifying thing about this EP is that these songs are all pretty lighthearted. They're a little bit more funny, not so much "woe is me" Track 3 has a ukulele on it. I used to be in a band with my brother and I played ukulele and bass. A lot of songs the Gunship plays were written on a ukulele. It's kind of fun - a little shout-out to high school music.

p: Would this happen to be connected with the whole "Zombie Extravaganza" thing?

DMcD: Absolutely. It's one of the reasons we decided to release it at the end of October. We've wanted to do a zombie-themed show for a long time because we've always been sort of obsessed with it. After we set up the show I heard there was some kind of zombie walk up in the city set for the next day so. Good timing, I guess. We got the idea done as a flyer a few years ago because we were going to do a zombie-themed show but never got around to it because we didn't have any dates around Halloween or close to it.

p: Neat album cover. Who did the artwork?

DMcD: Actually I did. I was painting flyers for our shows in 2005 because I wanted our shows to have a theme and not just slip away with no importance, kind of incorporate some them for the show, maybe something incorporating other bands playing.

The last time I did it the cover for one of our albums I had the three of us on it and thought 'Well, why not do a painting of us as zombies sort of coming through the mist?' So that's what that is.

p: How long is the tour starting next week scheduled for?

DMcD: This one is a month long. We're going to be leaving November 2 and coming back December 1.

p: Where are some of the exotic locales you're slated to visit on this tour?

DMcD: We're pretty much hitting half the states we did this summer, going back to the places we had a good time and had good shows. Actually, after the month-long tour we're going to be playing a lot of shows around here because this EP is going to be kind of a teaser for the next album. We're bringing in a lot of guest musicians for that one and it should be done early next year. We're going to have strings and horns and things added to a lot of the tracks so it will be very big and involved.

A schedule we're trying to get into is spending a month on the road then a month or two back doing new stuff so we can develop new music. That way it's not like touring all the time and playing the same stuff over and over because you never have time to write and record something new.

p: What's the closing gig for the tour?

DMcD: December 1. The day we're getting back we're playing the Deli with Ghost of Monkshood. It's going to be a lot of fun because we haven't done a show with them in about a year. My brother is actually one of the front men for that band.

p: This is your second tour, right?

DMcD: Back in 2006 we did do a week out to Los Angeles. That was our first road trip but this summer was our first really big extended tour -- 10 weeks going around various states. So yeah, this will be our second big tour.

p: What lessons did you learn on the first tour that will help this one go more smoothly?

DMcD: Well, it's kind of interesting to play in a new city that you've never been to but it's really important to promote the show, get the word out in advance that you're going to be there. This time, we're trying to get the flyers out with plenty of lead time so that way people will know about it well ahead of time. And we're making sure to fill out the flyers with the showtimes, places and everything in advance because venues will post them but they generally won't fill them out for you. We're also trying to hook up with local radio stations that we're going to be there

I think this time we won't have as many expectations about the quality of the shows. What we kind of expected last time is you do a show and it's usually going to be OK but not just the greatest show ever. But you've got to sing and play your heart out even if there's almost nobody there. You've got to build up your base even if it's somewhere you've never been before. Just because you're a touring band doesn't mean everywhere you go you're hot shit. On the summer tour we had a few bad spots due to being low on money from a few bad gigs in a row but our spirits were never down. We were constantly going to new places.

Maybe this time we're worrying more about getting our shows more closely together; a lot of times we'd do a show on a Sunday and it'd be a low turnout and things would be kind of black after that for our shows later in the week.

Our relationships with other bands and our personal relationships with venues are getting better. Oh, and we'll probably learn a few new things because it's colder and this summer it was hot and we learned a few lessons related to that but the new temperature will add a new aspect to that.

p: Any word on the wireless modem card?

DMcD: Yeah, we actually got the Sprint broadband card and tried that out. It lets you get on the Internet wherever you can get a cell phone signal and they promised broadband speed but it was pretty much the same as dial-up. That's when you're near the interstate and when you're away from a main road or highway it wasn't even as fast as that.

So this trip we're going to find the free Wi-Fi spots and just post and check things that way. Right now it's not absolutely necessary because we were a little disappointed in it. That's another of the advantages in doing a shorter tour: You can book shows in advance at home and not have to worry so much about doing stuff, checking it and setting it up, on the road.

But having the computer on and using the Internet while the car was moving, that was sort of cool, sort of James Bondish, but sometimes the maps wouldn't load in time and we'd miss our exit.

p: Out of the songs on the album, were there some that are especially your favorite?

DMcD: I'm really partial to track three ("In A Bottle") because I played ukulele on it and I wrote that when I was in a band with my brother so that was one of the first songs that I wrote. It's kind of neat to see it finally getting released.

And of course doing the song "Aim for the Head" was a lot of fun. Realizing that we could do more than make the songs good like they do live it was just fun to make the song bigger. Plus, it's always fun to release a record.

We're trying to keep releasing records as often as we can -- that way nothing gets lost through time. We want to release all the songs we write; none of them are throwaway songs ... it's important to keep releasing stuff so people who like to listen to our stuff will have something to listen to. Plus with every song you release, you get better at the recording process and finding out what works well and what doesn't.

p: Who's Johnathan Owens?

DMcD: Actually when (drummer) Bobby (Onspaugh) posted that online he got the name wrong -- it's actually Johnathan Wilkins. He's a solo artist from Little Rock. We played with him there in April. His music's kind of hard to describe but it's solo acoustic stuff. It has a lot of energy, a really good feel to it.

p: When's the show start?

DMcD: Sometime between 10 and 10:15 p.m. We're trying to were probably going to come onstage about 11, 11:30, give Johnathan a good hour or an hour and a half to play. Because that's one of the things we learned from the road: A lot of times people will start a little late and go a little later than planned, no matter what the schedule says. If you give yourself a little extra time to play with, things will work out better. But he's an acoustic artist, so it shouldn't be that much of a problem.

p: Anything else to say about the show, tour or EP?

DMcD: We are encouraging people to dress as zombies or zombie hunters. It should be a good time.

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