Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Interview with Evans the Death

Evans the Death are by far and away my favourite new band of the year so far.

Their demos have caused a right old stir in indiepop circles, and we patiently await the bands first release.

To pass the time, i asked the band a few questions and unsurprisingly received funny, intelligent and thoughtful replies back.

So then-Who's stalked Jarvis Cocker as a seven year old? Who daydreams about punching small children? What role did 'bev' have in the formation of the band? And which one fancies Hotpants Romance? Actually, which one DOESN'T fancy Hotpants Romance? Lets find out-

brilldream: OK, first things first, how did Evans the Death come about?

Robert - It's a pretty mundane story really! Olly, Matt, Dan and I all went to the same school, I've played in bands with Matt and Dan for years. When they asked me to join them in Evans the Death last year I was happy to. They had met Katherine when seeing a band and started from there.

brilldream: Who would you describe as your influences? Do you, like most bands, all have completely different favourite artists?

Dan – Yeah, there aren't any bands that we unanimously like really. Apart from the Beatles. Personally a few bands that I think have influenced me are Pavement, The Fall, Orange Juice, the Pixies and Television Personalities.

Katherine – I just like anything; I like a lot of 60s girl groups, which is a bit obvious. In terms of the band specifically, The Smiths.

Robert - I agree with Dan, bar the Beatles we all tend to like different bands. My favorites include the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel, My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins and Beach House.

brilldream: How do you go about writing songs? Is there one main song writer or do the songs come from jamming together?

Dan - So far I've tended to write the songs, with Katherine writing the lyrics for one or two. The others are now writing really good stuff. It's nice writing a song then hearing it played and it sounding better than you thought it could. I keep forgetting to write myself guitar parts though which is an issue. We're also going to enter the world of jamming. Nothing Grateful Deadish or anything; just to see what we come up with.

Katherine – I wrote the lyrics to Morning Voice after being challenged to write a song about when someone hadn’t finished their toast.

Robert - I think we're all frustrated songwriters at heart!

brilldream: What or who made you want to create music? Was it something that's always been inside you?

Olly - I was said to have had 'a very lovely voice' by my music teacher/everything else teacher in primary school and that was enough for me to start. My repertoire on the keyboard was a blend of Beethoven and Level 42, and I had a fantastic time playing hymns in school assemblies until I toadally bombed whilst playing 'Green Onions'. I gave up soon afterwards.

Dan - I remember being the world's biggest Pulp fan at the age of seven, I thought they were the best thing. I got a letter from Jarvis Cocker saying how weird it was for someone so young to be such a fan, particularly as my favourite song was 'f.e.e.l.i.n.g.c.a.l.l.e.d.l.o.v.e', but he was glad. He made me think it was cool to write songs. From there I've just got more and more obsessed, and my stepdad plays guitar in a Santana tribute band which introduced me to actually playing music.

Katherine – My music teacher always gave me good parts in the school plays at primary school. Someone wrote on my leaver’s shirt, “You stole all the good parts in the play. Bev”. No kisses. So I thought something good should arise from this unfriendliness.

Robert - I honestly can't remember not wanting to make music. It's always been around me, there's always been some sort of music playing in the house, so I guess that's where it came from.

brilldream: Your lyrics sound like they have been poured directly from your diary(ies). How autobiographical are they? Does baring your soul on a song make you feel uncomfortable?

Dan - I've never had a diary so I guess that's what it is. Everything in them is true, we don't want to lie to people. We have a song called 'A Small Child Punched Me In The Face' which is a blow by blow account of the titular incident that happened after rehearsing in Camden the day that Michael Jackson died. I spent a few furious days wanting to smack all the children I saw, then I wrote the song and felt a bit better about it. There's a bit in catch your cold about ticket inspectors on trains that I wrote after getting a fine for buying a child's ticket. I suppose it's just a way of purging anger and telling off the people that wrong me. It doesn't make me feel uncomfortable at all, it's the only way I can do it without feeling pretentious. I could never write really obtuse, cryptic lyrics like foals or something. Good for them, but I'd feel ashamed.

Katherine – The only time I ever felt uncomfortable is when you have to sing something naughty and my dad hears it.

brilldream: I love the way you seem to be able to turn a song from desperate to comic with a flick of a lyric (ie:'when I'm watching the shopping channel I will think of you' from 'Im so unclean' and 'I'm afraid of getting a job /I'm afraid of snoop doggy dogg' from 'Catch your cold'). Its a very clever, very Morrissey-esque gift. Is it something you’re conscious of?

Dan - Thank you. I don't really think about it too much but I think getting the humour/misery ratio right is important. We don't want to be Leonard Cohen, but we don't want to be Half Man Half Biscuit either. I love how Stephen Malkmus can make you laugh with a line like 'walk with your credit card in the air/swing your nachos like you just don't care' without compromising the sincerity of the song. There's an undercurrent of sadness in their songs. Felt were good at that too, but in reverse; there's a really dark sense of humour to them.

Katherine – Whenever I hear people laughing in the audience I half think it’s great but then half of me thinks “Dammit take us SERIOUSLY”. I’m always the one telling Dan he’s too silly.

Robert - I think that's one of the things I like most about our music, the fact that people can have a chuckle in the audience.

brilldream: Are you as well read as your lyrics would make out? Who are your favourite writers?

Dan - We all love a good read. I try to read as much different stuff as possible but what I really love is modern American stuff, like Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Brautigan, Hunter S. Thompson, Daniel Clowes. I also recently read Mark E Smith's book and I'd recommend it to anyone. 'I want this book to be like the Mein Kampf for the Hollyoaks generation'. Fantastic.

Katherine – I never ever read, television’s more up my street. I am reading a book on North Korea at the moment though so I’m not all bad.

Robert - I don't think I'll every consider myself well-read, there's too much out there and I find that I can't read it all quick enough. I really like J.D Salinger, Hanif Kureishi, Michael Ondaatje and George Orwell, to name a few.

brilldream: Is there any up and coming bands you’ve come across that we should know about?

Dan - Dead Slow, Hella Better Dancer and Why Whiskey Why? are great bands and lovely people.

Katherine – We recently supported a band called Hotpants Romance who are ridiculously good and I know more than one of Evans The Death has a crush on all of them.

Robert - Why Whiskey Why? are my favourite new band.

brilldream: What’s next for the band, and what ambitions (if any) do you have for Evans the Death?

Katherine – We’re never going to be a stadium filler, but I do hope that we can have a little pyrotechnic spectacular during a set in the future. We’re going to take a year out after sixth form and try and make it work, and we’re recording an album this summer with someone good so it’s looking good.

brilldream: And lastly, what is you favourite Record, Book and cheese?

Dan – Mike Oldfield's Hergest Ridge, Ask the Dust by John Fante, the cheese that squeaks when you eat it which I think is called Haloummi

Katherine – A Christmas Gift for you From Phil Spector, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and camembert.

Robert - The Beatle's I'm Only Sleeping, Salinger's Franny and Zooey and brie.

Olly - I couldn't physically answer that, but I quite like Grotesque by the Fall today. I used to love ...And don't the kids just love it by Television Personalities before Dan Treacey compared me to Ron Weasely. Crash by JG Ballard is brilliant too because it's utterly appalling, and so is Casu Marzu for the same reason.