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The videos have all been directed and shot by Missoula filmmakers Patrick Cook, Brandon Woodard and Mat Miller. In June, Boone and the crew will travel to the Sun Tunnels in the Great Basin Desert, in Utah, to film the EP's final video, for the song "Beam of Light." On the summer solstice, the concrete tunnels, built by artist Nancy Holt, frame the sunset and sunrise. The summer solstice is also the day the Dawns EP will be released.
A few weeks ago, Boone called senior Rolling Stone writer Brian Hiatt, the third time he'd tried to contact Hiatt to get the magazine to take a look at the Dawns music videos. Boone knew it was a longshot; like the rest of the music industry, mainstream music media typically doesn't take the time to filter through unknown artists for the next new thing.
"I just wanted him to take a look, that's all," says Boone. "But he said to me, 'I've gotta be honest with you. You're kind of trying to go straight to the World Series here.'"
Boone laughs. "In my head—and I wish I would have said it—I was thinking, 'Well, actually, I've been in the Cuba baseball league for the last 16 years."
To the lighthouse
The house Boone built sits in a cozy neighborhood near downtown Missoula. It has a Spanish villa-feel to it, with insides full of polished barn wood, curtains of coffee-bean burlap and a rooftop deck that overlooks a quiet street. You might hear Springsteen's Nebraska filtering from the kitchen boombox, if Boone isn't playing guitar—which is rare. On one recent day, as he strums his acoustic, Stephanie smiles warmly, holding Meyers, who is entranced, bobbing to the music, staring wide-eyed at his dad. His life so far is wrapped in his father's music.
One recent night, when David was on child duty, Meyers started crying. It was Stephanie who had to comfort him.
"I was thinking of the crushing weight of obligation," David says with mock solemnity. "It was one of those things where everything was getting way louder and the baby yelling is getting louder and your voice is getting louder and the whole world is getting louder."
Through the screaming, Stephanie hummed Meyers a made-up lullaby and David picked up his guitar and played along with her tune, writing the song to her:
"I see lightning, we're in trouble, can't you see, it's just me. Let's stop fighting over rubble of a city we don't need. Climb the mountain to the lighthouse, send a message through the skies. When all of this sorrow is over, that's when all of the trumpets, and all of the lions, all the saints, all the sirens, will be making lots of noise, will awaken from their silence. And, Oh! Oh! I will be by your side!"
That song is destined for the second Dawns album, which David has nearly finished writing.
A week after first talking with him, Boone tells me he was thinking about contrasts and the notion that you need dark to have light or suffering to have art. He says he thought about how, if you took away the dark sky, the stars wouldn't disappear. They'd just shine infinitely. And so, he says, he doesn't believe that Orson Welles quote anymore.
"I was thinking of it in terms of when I was having my session in London. There were no hiccups; it was completely productive. I think it's a lie that when you have craziness that you're more creative. Yeah, you're productive and you feel like your mind is working on a different level than it's typically working at, but I don't think you're a master of your craft if you can't create at your most masterful level, when you're totally at the helm."
Meanwhile, he keeps writing. He has yet another project that he's written songs for, about history and how people forget and remember. That material has been growing for four years now, he says, waiting its turn. "I will be an old, old man," he says, laughing.
He still has nightmares almost every night, he says, in which he accidentally builds his and Stephanie's villa on the land he grew up on in Seeley. But now he also has dreams that are becoming realities.
He's hoping to record with Supple again this fall, first in Montana, then in London, to finish the full-length album they began. After London, Boone will fly to New York to play as a featured artist at the CMJ Music Festival.
Seattle-based radio promoter Kevin Sutter, who spearheaded campaigns for the debut albums of Nora Jones, Jack Johnson, Pearl Jam and David Gray, is working to get Boone in regional radio markets. Jesse Barnett, also a renowned radio promoter, is on board to take him national. Brooklyn publicist Jeff Kilgour of Tijuana Gift Shop is taking the reins on television, print and online promotion.
In an industry where no one's keen on risk, all this PR will cost Boone money—he jokes that he's looking at kidney market options—but he and Stephanie have decided they're not throwing in the towel just yet.
"We're at this place in life where we can keep going and keep doing this because we believe in this wholeheartedly," Stephanie says. "But it's so hard when you've never felt the relief. I feel like Dave and I have been in this boxing round together for seven years and it's like, will you either beat us up or can we just win?"
For First Friday, David Boone hosts the "Better to Love Than" video premier, which includes screenings of his other videos "Evidence and Answers" and "Tail Lights," Friday, May 4, at the Crystal Theatre. Come for food and drinks at 5 p.m., with the screening at 5:30 p.m. Or, come by at 7 p.m. for food and drinks and catch the screening at 7:30 p.m. $5 suggested donation. Go to the Dawns kickstarter page to check out and support the project.