Herman Dune makes strange music. Maybe it’s only strange for the fact that the Paris-based band sounds more like American folk-pop than French chanson.
Singer-guitarist David Herman Dune and drummer Nemin Herman Dune met in school when they were 11 years old and started playing music together under the name Herman Dune at age 13. That was 22 years ago.
David, who is tall with tan skin and a black beard, grew up listening to American musicians like Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley, which his Moroccan-born father would listen to exclusively.
Another North American influence on their new album Strange Moosic seems to be Neil Young. The song “Ah Hears Strange Moosic” is a Young-inspired slow-burner, borrowing harmonies and a drumbeat from Harvest-era Neil. On stage, David plays rhythmic leads from the Crazy Horse School of less-is-more.
Mostly, though, Strange Moosic is a love story told in anecdotes. On the opening track, “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know,” David uses a conversational style reminiscent of Lou Reed or Chet Baker.
“You say why don’t you go down to the record store,” his muse tells him in the song’s opening line, to which he replies, “I say every new band feels like I’ve heard them before.” Then: “You say I should’ve lived a hundred years ago/And I go, ‘Tell me something I don’t know’.”
The band recorded Strange Moosic at Type Foundry Studio in Portland, Oregon, with the producer Adam Selzer (M. Ward, The Decemberists) and the album has a decidedly West Coast feel. But David shrugs off geography.
“We like not to think in terms of citizenship and territory,” he says. “It’s often used to introduce us—we are from Paris—but I don’t think it says the right thing about our music. When you think of Paris you think of chanson, and accordion, and Edith Piaf—so it’s a little bit misleading when describing the band.”