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Dan Wilson reflects on new Semisonic album and childhood visits to Grand Rapids

A man with glasses and a white shirt playing guitar and singing into a microphone. Behind him are two more men, one playing bass and another playing drums.
Darin Kamnetz
Dan Wilson of Semisonic performing at First Ave in Minneapolis.

The Semisonic lead singer joined Centerstage Minnesota in November 2023.

LOS ANGELES — It’s been over 20 years since their last album, but Semisonic picks up where they left off on Little Bit of Sun.

“We were nervous,” said Dan Wilson, lead singer and primary songwriter of the band, “but it was pretty joyful.”

Wilson joined Centerstage Minnesota to talk about the new album, and to reflect on his childhood and music career. Wilson, with John Munson on bass and Jacob Slichter on drums, formed Semisonic in 1995 and released three albums before calling it quits in the early 2000s. Their second album, Feeling Strangely Fine, catapulted the band to international stardom behind the smash hit single “Closing Time.”

“I got to be the person with the concept, not a clear idea of how to get there."
Dan Wilson of Semisonic

The artwork for Semisonic's 2023 album "Little Bit of Sun." A red, yellow, and blue circle.
Dan Wilson
Little Bit of Sun is Semisonic's first album in over 20 years.

During the hiatus, Wilson became an in-demand songwriter, alongside making solo albums. His credits include Adele, Jon Batiste, The Chicks, and many more. When it came time to write for the new album, Wilson flipped the script and brought in Lori McKenna to assist with finishing a song.

“I got to be the person with the concept, not a clear idea of how to get there,” Wilson said. With McKenna’s songwriting help, plus a guitar solo from Jason Isbell, Semisonic came up with “Out of the Dirt,” one of the lead singles from the album.

Wilson was surprised to hear that the very same Jason Isbell had played in Grand Rapids earlier this year.

“That warms my heart,” Wilson said, “when I was a kid my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all kicked in and built a house on Siseebakwet (Sugar) Lake.”

The singer’s fond memories of Northern Minnesota include the drive up from Minneapolis, fishing and swimming, touring the mines, and visiting Brainerd.

Check out the full conversation with Dan Wilson on Centerstage Minnesota above.

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Malachy started his radio career at a college radio station, where he played weird music in the middle of the night to possibly no one. On a good night maybe his parents were listening. Nonetheless, he was hooked on public radio and is still doing it today. He joined Northern Community Radio in 2022, where he gets to share his passion for local music as Producer of Centerstage Minnesota, an all Minnesota music show airing Fridays at 2pm.