Americana rockers Soul Asylum have a new album, "Change of Fortune." (Courtesy Photo)

Americana rockers Soul Asylum have a new album, "Change of Fortune." (Courtesy Photo)

Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner finds kinship with fellow Minnesotan Prince

New Orleans-based Soul Asylum frontman Dave Pirner hasn’t resided in his native Minneapolis for 15 years, but he’s still rooted to his old hometown.

Although founding member Dan Murphy left the band in 2012, Pirner’s key cohort in the group, former Prince drummer Michael Bland, lives there, has an office studio, and they compose songs long distance.

Pirner — who brings the Grammy-winning band of “Runaway Train” fame to The City July 19 (promoting the 2016 album “Change of Fortune” with heartland anthems such as “Supersonic” and the faux-Apocalyptic “Doomsday”) — got some bombshell news earlier this year.

After the untimely death of Prince, the Purple One’s vast Paisley Park recording vaults were opened, reportedly revealing four collaborations: one industrial, one hardcore, one slow jam, plus a collection of Chuck Berry covers.

There’s one problem: “I have no idea what all that is,” Pirner says. “I just hope I get to hear it some day.”

Were Pirner’s vocals grafted onto other mixes? He’s not sure.

When he was still in Minneapolis, he would often accompany Bland to Paisley Park Studios, where he regularly nodded hello to Prince in passing.

The artists never officially recorded together; their sessions were always in different rooms.

“But I do know that Prince recorded one of my songs, ‘Stand Up and Be Strong,’ and Michael played on it,” says Pirner. “And through Michael, he had actually asked for my blessing, and I was like, ‘Hell yeah, Prince can have my blessing! He didn’t even have to ask!’”

After years of skirting each other in the halls, the pair had a proper conversation backstage at a Sheryl Crow concert they were both attending.

“So I had a moment to tell him how important I thought he was to Minneapolis music, and it felt good to acknowledge my appreciation for him while he was still with us,” he says. “And he did that shy look when I said it to him, this thing that he always did, and it was just charming.”

Pirner believes that he shared a similar work ethic with Prince that is distinctly Minnesotan.

Winters there are so cold, he explains, “That it’s easy to learn how to do music by yourself and just noodle away in your basement. So Prince probably made music in a basement very similar to the one I did when I was growing up, using similar gear. Being a studio rat — that’s what I call it. That’s where I feel most comfortable.”

Soul Asylum
Where: Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday (July 19)
Tickets: $25
Contact: (415) 771-1421, www.ticketfly.comChange of FortuneDave PirnerMichael BlandMinnesotaPrinceSOUL ASYLUM

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