SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. -- The twinkling lights of the San Fernando Valley made up for the smog-shrouded stars as Dan Wilson and his daughter Coco ushered a Minnesota guest out to their patio to show off their hillside home's quintessential Southern California view.
"You could see the wildfires up that way last year," Wilson said with a nonchalant flatness he once might've used to point to a 10-foot snowdrift near his old house in Minneapolis.
It's been nearly a decade since one of Minnesota's most decorated songwriters shoved off for the Los Angeles area. From the looks of our visit in late April, he and his family have long since settled in.
Dan's wife, Diane Wilson, who works as a consultant for nonprofits and arts groups, had just returned home from soccer practice with their youngest daughter, Lily, around the same time Dad wrapped up a writing and demo session at a nearby North Hollywood studio with members of Phantogram.
Just as Coco was happy to point out the view from their Spanish Colonial-style house, Dan was eager to show off his cozy, living-room-like home studio -- and the new songs he recorded there with his old band from Minnesota, Semisonic.
"It took us so long to finally make another record," the 58-year-old tunesmith said as he plugged a new iPhone into his vintage recording console to preview the material.
"Now that it's done we can't wait for people to hear it. It's actually driving us a little bit crazy waiting."
The album's release got put off until next year for reasons Wilson explained in diplomatic L.A. music-biz speak as "outside circumstances, but not unpleasant ones."
Ironically, Wilson's new surroundings may have helped his old band find its mojo again.
Granted, moving West did become another geographical hindrance to Semisonic finally ramping up again. It's literally a cross-continent band now, with drummer Jacob Slichter in New York and bassist John Munson holding things down here in the middle.