Veteran singer/songwriter guitarist Seth Tiven is spotlighting his talents with a new self-produced CD, fittingly titled Solitude. Purely by coincidence, Rykodisc recently released a collection of some of Dumptruck’s best music titled Haul of Fame, covering several decades of Tiven’s music career.

Co-founder of the ‘80s college radio darlings, Dumptruck, Tiven got his start playing music in the New Haven and Boston indie-rock scene. His first band, Saucers, included drummer Mark Mulcahy, who went on to be singer of the now-defunct Miracle Legion, and bass player, Craig Bell, who had previously been in the Cleveland proto-punk band Rocket From the Tombs, which spawned the legendary punk group the Dead Boys and art-punk pioneers Pere Ubu.

Tiven was born and raised in Connecticut. He received his bachelor’s of arts in music in 1980 from Wesleyan University in Middletown. In 1981 he moved to Boston, and in 1983 formed Dumptruck with Kirk Swan. Mulcahy was the band’s first drummer. Dumptruck performed and recorded in Boston for eight years, often featured on college radio stations and garnering favorable reviews. In 1984 the band released D is for Dumptruck. Positively Dumptruck followed in 1986. After a year of extensive touring in support of Positively Dumptruck, Swan left the band and moved to L.A. to pursue a solo career. The following year saw the release of the band’s bestselling effort, For the Country. While touring in support of the record, a bitter legal dispute between the band and its former record label began to brew. The band would later defeat the suit, but the litigation kept Dumptruck from signing a major label deal. Dumptruck was left idling until the band eventually fell apart in 1991.

That year, Tiven moved to Austin. “I got sick of winter,” he says. In Austin, Tiven and his ex-wife, violinist Amy Farris, played as a husband-wife duo. He also played in a variety of bands, including Blind Willie’s Johnson with singer/guitarist Mick Buck and Jean Caffeine’s All-Night Truckstop. In 1995, Tiven reconstituted Dumptruck from his Austin headquarters with a local lineup. The resurrected Dumptruck released three more albums. The first, Days of Fear, was originally recorded in 1991 in Boston, and was finally released in 1995 by Unclean Records. Meanwhile, Tiven subsidized his music career by working in the high-tech industry.

In the making for three years, Solitude features old songs Dumptruck had tried, “but they didn’t fit the Dumptruck mold exactly,” Tiven says. Half way through recording the self-released Solitude, Tiven decided the project felt more like a solo recording than a band record. All basic tracks were done in the studio, but all overdubs were recorded by Tiven in different locations. The resulting songs have a more carefree quality without losing the edginess that defined Dumptruck. ‘Believe,’ ‘Salad Days’ and ‘Some Brighter Days’ were approached differently with fresh ideas. Swan sang backing vocals on those songs and on a lot of the new material. Old and new songs feature guest players on certain tracks. Ian McLagan of Faces/Small Faces fame plays piano and organ on three songs. Jimmy Ryan of Boston’s Blood Oranges added mandolin tracks to several songs. Tiven brought in Austin clarinetist Ben Saffer to bring a different flavor to several tracks. “I approached Solitude with less of a preconceived notion about what things should sound like,” Tiven says.

In 2004 a SXSW showcase brought Swan and Tiven together again. That led to another reunion gig with Swan in Lawrence, Kansas, the following year. When playing with Swan, Tiven says, he was reminded that the two create the essence of Dumptruck. The band lives on when Swan and Tiven collaborate. The two recorded basic tracks for a new CD in March 2007, and hope to finish it by the end of the year. “That lineup and dynamics is more of what Dumptruck is,” Tiven says.