"Can I move to California and keep my head held high?" Hause asks on Bury Me's self-doubting title track. To get his answer, the songwriter needed to consult with two Philadelphia helpmates instrumental in making the album.
First, there was his brother Tim, who's 15 years younger, with whom he has forged a new musical relationship since the junior sibling joined his band in 2013. Second, there was Eric Bazilian, co-front man of 1980s Philadelphia rockers the Hooters, who co-produced Bury Me and whom Hause saw play at the first concert he ever attended, at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby when he was 7. Bury Me was recorded at Bazilian's studio in Wayne.
In 2013, Hause released his album Devour and migrated west to live with his girlfriend, Natasha Deacon, now his fiancee. Looking to expand his punchy rock band's range, Hause -- who also fronts on-hiatus punk band the Loved Ones -- recruited his brother on guitar, keyboards, and harmonies. At the time, Tim was attending Temple University and sitting in at twice-monthly jams in Andorra with their guitarist father's band Circle of Syn.
The siblings had never spent much time together. But on the road, "we clicked," says Hause, 38. "It was like I found my lost musical soul mate." When Hause set about writing his next solo record, he soon had more than three dozen songs, but "nothing was abundantly clear until Tim started to hear the songs."
Torn away from his roots, unaccustomed to too-friendly supermarket cashiers and uncomfortable with the relatively homogenous demographics -- Santa Barbara is 75 percent white and less than 2 percent black -- Hause worried that he didn't fit. "I was having culture shock."
Being a Philadelphian "means you're an underdog," he says. "In the shadow of New York, you're overlooked. Underpaid. You're working-class. You're familial, provincial, territorial. And there's a community that will do anything for you."
WXPN's Helen Leicht connected Bazilian and Hause in 2014, and "I just loved him immediately," the Hooter says. "I loved his energy. I loved that he's a linear storyteller, that, without being obvious, his stuff has layers to it. There's a poetry to it, but he's got this punky thing, too."
Dave Hause and the Mermaid at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., at noon Feb. 17. Free. Register at xpn.org, starting Feb. 10.
With Eric Bazilian at Main Street Music, 4444 Main St., Manayunk at 4 p.m. Feb. 18. facebook.com/mainstreetmusicpa.