Dave always had a knack for songwriting and he started playing in bands as a teenager. He was born in Kansas and raised in Arizona, but he perfected his musical craft by immersion in the Austin music scene for nearly two decades. In high school he played in country and rock bands, and in 1983 his cowpunk band, “Chaingang” debuted in Tempe, Arizona. The years that followed featured a steady progression of bands, including “Politics or Pontiacs,” “Nitpickers,” and “Trophy Husbands.”
In 2005, on the cusp of his move to Texas, Dave released his solo debut, Call Me Lonesome. The Arizona Republic named Dave “Arizona’s Best Songwriter,” while Texas music publication Third Coast Music included Call Me Lonesome in its Top 10 Debuts of 2005. Texas called, and Dave came to stay. In 2006 he released Here with You Tonight debuting at #1 on the FAR radio chart. Former Downbeat editor Nat Hentoff noted in his review of Here with You Tonight that Dave “immediately held my attention not by showboating, but through naturally flowing rhythms, and stories of everyday life and loss, told in a warm, unhurried, and sometimes wry voice of experience.”
In 2008, Dave released a grittier, rock-inflected album, West Texas Wine, co-produced by Dale X. Allen, and featuring the single “Beatin’ Ya Down.” Writing for Good Sound, David Cantor called Insley’s music “Zen Country,” and credited him with “leaving melodramatic self-indulgence out of the picture.”
Dave’s 2016 release, Just the Way That I Am, finds Insley in peak form, and features his best writing and most nuanced performance to date. Dave continues to live in Austin, where he performs regularly at the White Horse Saloon, the Driskill Hotel, and the Sagebrush.
“Dave Insley, whose Chaingang achieved a new high in demented lounge buffoonery before ‘taking some time off’ has reformed the original lineup under the name the Franks. ‘It’s the usual Acid-Country-Jazz-Rock Fusion kind of thing’ reports Insley, who brought his wieners back with a bang opening for the True Believers last week at the Mason Jar.”
—Andy Van De Voorde, New Times, May 8th 1985
“Few artists have been as umbilically tied to the local Country scene as Dave Insley. From his mid-80’s Chaingang to his recent work as leader of the Nitpickers and Trophy Husbands, Insley has long been at the fore of Valley twang, and has quickly earned a heap of critical kudos and growing legion of fans.”
—Bob Mehr, Phoenix New Times, April 2000