Photo by Cheryl Clegg
"The Invisible Girl"
Cover art illustrated by Anthony Russo
Nature is a force of Dave Herlihy.
From blowing down the gilded gates of Boston’s WBCN as a student with 1979’s “I Don’t Know How to Act”—a punk rant that coopted the ear of the legendary Charles Laquidara to become a Big Mattress Song of the Week—to redefining “stage presence” as front man of Boston’s nationally-charting O Positive, to solo artist and member of various bands, Dave creates intelligent, intensely emotional music that challenges expectations and pairs quiet introspect with electrifying attitude.
This love child of Watertown, MA and the Beatles could also elicit credible paternity claims from Hank Williams, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno. His emergence truly began with the 1983 forming of O Positive, a guitar-driven, indie-rocking outfit that riveted club goers in Greater Boston and throughout New England. Their high-energy, mesmerizing live performances featured Dave as lead singer, guitarist and principal songwriter. Charismatic and kinetic, his presence was a key to attaining both college and commercial airplay across the country and ultimately scoring a recording deal with Epic Records.
Disarray and the eventual reorganization of that label proved to be a difficult hurdle for O Positive to overcome, but they nonetheless dominated the Boston music scene for more than a decade, producing a number of acclaimed EP’s and albums (“Only Breathing” Throbbing Lobster, 1985; “Cloud Factory” Link, 1987; “toyboattoyboatTOYBOAT” Epic, 1990; and “Home Sweet Head” Smashing Records, 1993).
The band enjoyed airplay on MTV, rode the Rolling Stone college charts, and headlined extensively throughout the country, sharing stages with the likes of Sinead O'Connor, Bryan Ferry, The Psychedelic Furs, the Pixies and many others.
Dave himself racked up an embarrassment of rock and roll recognition during that time, including an “Outstanding Songwriter” and three “Outstanding Male Vocalist” acknowledgements from the Boston Music Awards, and as two-time topper of the Boston Phoenix/WFNX Poll’s “Best Local Male Vocalist” category.
In the ensuing years Dave has continued to write, record and perform, while exercising his passion for mentoring and inspiring young musicians as a professor at Northeastern University, frequent guest lecturer at the Berklee College of Music, panelist at the South by Southwest Conference, and through his private law practice providing legal advice to emerging artists.
While COVID-19 put a stranglehold on life over the past years, it inspired a flood of new material from Dave—more than 40 songs—several of which formed the core of his “Postcards from Kindergarten (Volume 1)” release in the Fall of 2022. It’s a collection of songs that are among his most atmospheric, authentic, and in some very interesting ways deconstructed work. They show his maturation as a songwriter and artist, without losing any of the immediacy, intensity and emotional urgency that have always characterized his music.
Searching for analogues to Dave’s sound is elusive, as never was there a more complete amalgam of souls, styles and sensibilities. Where the 12-bar simplicity of pop’s infancy is refracted by 60’s and 70’s eclecticism, codified in the 80’s and 90’s and laid at our ears with clarity and purpose, wisdom and truth, and effortless musicality.