Scene Point Blank writer Evan Chase sat down to talk with former Lemonheads singer-songwriter Evan Dando upon the release of his first solo recording, Baby I’m Bored, out now on Bar None records.
Scene Point Blank: Nice to finally meet you, Evan.
Evan Dando: Nice to meet you, Evan.
Scene Point Blank: We crossed paths a few times, back in the Vineyard Days, 1997.
Evan Dando: The Vineyard Days have not ended yet.
Scene Point Blank: You played a friend of mine's wedding, Jon Fiutak, married an Amherst girl.
Evan Dando: Yeah yeah yeah. Somebody had some mushrooms.
Scene Point Blank: Yeah I was wondering if you enjoyed playing the show.
Evan Dando: Definitely, it was at the Chilmark Community Center.
Scene Point Blank: Really, where they have the Feast?
Evan Dando: You weren't there?
Scene Point Blank: I hadn't discovered the Vineyard. It was much later, I saw you - you were rolling around on Gay Head, I introduced you to my mother actually.
Evan Dando: Cool.
Scene Point Blank: Yeah it was cool. Good times. And I saw you out back at the Hot Tin Roof. You sat down with me and my brother and we had a smoke. So how's the tour going?
Evan Dando: Good.
Scene Point Blank: Enjoying yourself?
Evan Dando: Yeah totally.
Scene Point Blank: I know you spoke with the New York Times, and you're living in New York now.
Evan Dando: That is correct.
Scene Point Blank: Happily married?
Evan Dando: Yeah, definitely. Very.
Scene Point Blank: A sweetheart, your wife, Elizabeth? Congratulations on that. (Evan shows me a picture of Elizabeth in his journal, on a rooftop behind which are the ruins of the World Trade Centers.)
Evan Dando: See those buildings in the background? That's where the World Trade Centers were.
Scene Point Blank: Oh, right on.
Evan Dando: We live two blocks away. I was on the roof when the second one hit. We were south of it.
Scene Point Blank: So are you happy in New York?
Evan Dando: No, no one is. We want to move to Paris. New York just recently became part of America. When the towers came down, now it's a part of America. Before it was more international, like an island off the coast of America. It really was. It felt a little different. And since that happened, it's totally changing. It sucks right now, I think. Rent's too expensive for anyone interesting to live there. Not that rich people are boring. I know.
Scene Point Blank: Well, they are, we both know that.
Evan Dando: What I mean is they don't come out of their houses. It doesn't make for a good community.
Scene Point Blank: Yeah, and they're kind of the enemy of art in a lot of senses.
Evan Dando: Well not traditionally. I'd say art never would have happened without rich people. The whole patrons thing.
Scene Point Blank: You're right, patrons. If only you could have a patron. Well you've got a patron in your new label, Bar/None. In your long history, I'd say you've lived three full waves, from the indie days with "Stove" and all that, that's when I got turned on to you, that was the first one, and that song broke my heart.
Evan Dando: We have a stove in our trailer, too. The busdriver just happened to have brought one. I wanted to bring it on stage for that song.
Scene Point Blank: Right on.
Evan Dando: I was just joking.
Scene Point Blank: Yeah, I know.
Evan Dando: He's a no-nonsense kind of guy, he wouldn't.
Scene Point Blank: So you did that, and you did a number of records for Atlantic, very commercially successful.
Evan Dando: Yeah, two of 'em sold tons, like they both went gold in the States. We were in the Top 50 of all-time Atlantic recording overseas. At least we were when I checked in '97.
Scene Point Blank: Right. A Top 50's recording star, that's a beautiful thing.
Evan Dando: Like, overseas sales. In other words, they were gold in the States but they did a lot of business in other countries, too. Like England and Germany.
Scene Point Blank: Wonderful. And you're gonna tour Europe.
Evan Dando: We already toured Europe.
Scene Point Blank: And I hear the feel's really good, a lot of sing-along, a lot of enthusiasm.
Evan Dando: It's amazing, yeah it's great.
Scene Point Blank: I have a lot of enthusiasm for your work, old and new, and I think... a terrific job on the new record. I wanted to ask you, the three waves, obviously the indie days, the Atlantic Years, now you're with Bar/None. Where are you gonna go from here? You're on New York time right now. Are you going to head back to a major at some point?
Evan Dando: I'll go... yeah... I don't know anything. I'm going to do my music as best I can. All I care about is the playing of the music. The money is a side effect of the playing of the music. Sometimes you don't have any and sometimes you have tons. Basically that's the way I look at it. Wonderful. Whenever I have money, I spend it. That's the feast or famine nature of things.
Scene Point Blank: Yeah, my bank account's overdrafted right now, 300 bucks but that's...
Evan Dando: Me and my friend were talking about writing a screenplay though. The best thing with money is to just have just enough just to get by. Because if you have too much, it screws you up, if you have too little it screws you up. So we're doing really good that way right now.
Scene Point Blank: You ever read The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde?
Evan Dando: Yeah.
Scene Point Blank: Where he talks about the whole concept of style over substance came from there. And the guy who's playing the piano says, "I don't play it well. I don't play with accuracy. I play with tremendous style."
Evan Dando: Cool.
Scene Point Blank: What I enjoy about your music is that you have a combination of style and substance. Can you speak to that about your songwriting?
Evan Dando: I'd say I'm underrated as a singer. I am a damn good singer.
Scene Point Blank: Oh, the stuff I've been reading online says you have a beautiful voice.
Evan Dando: Don't listen to that shit. I wouldn't.
Scene Point Blank: It's coming from the New York Times, it's shit?
Evan Dando: I guess I don't believe in anything, really. I just believe in today.
Scene Point Blank: You trust people?
Evan Dando: Nah... yeah. I do. I do trust people. I'm a trusting person, for sure.
Scene Point Blank: Good. That's really important. Having an open heart, open mind. That is important. You've seen a lot. You've had a whole lot of experience. Let's talk about any particular influences. You did the "$1,000 Wedding" with Juliana, your version of (Big Star's) "Thirteen."
Evan Dando: Let's see. Neil, Sabbath, Marvin Gaye, Martha and the Vandellas, Velvet Underground.
Scene Point Blank: That's it?
Evan Dando: Hank Williams, Sr. I love the Beachwood Sparks.
Scene Point Blank: Oh they're wonderful. How about the Glands, you share a label with them currently.
Evan Dando: I didn't know that.
Scene Point Blank: You should check out their records. They're on Bar/None.
Evan Dando: See, I'm not really familiar with Bar/None, they just had the money, you know?
Scene Point Blank: Right. You considered Anti because of Tom Waits?
Evan Dando: Yeah I have.
Scene Point Blank: Have you met Waits?
Evan Dando: No, I'm a huge fan.
Scene Point Blank: Anybody you enjoy that you haven't had a chance to meet yet? Westerberg?
Evan Dando: Anybody in particular? I've talked with Westerberg on the phone.
Scene Point Blank: Has he had an influence on you?
Evan Dando: He had a huge influence, yeah. [Plays "Color Me Impressed" on his acoustic.] Or else there's that great Bevis Frond song. [Plays "Lights Are Changing."]
Scene Point Blank: Two more questions for you. One, with the mp3 thing. Kazaa, Napster, you're all over the place.
Evan Dando: That's a good sign.
Scene Point Blank: Get your stuff out there.
Evan Dando: I think computers are going to kill mankind.
Scene Point Blank: Advice to young songwriters?
Evan Dando: I think the key to everything is relaxation. To find a way to relax while you play.
Scene Point Blank: You wrote "You Were the Last High" (on Welcome to the Monkey House) with Courtney from the Dandys.
Evan Dando: Yeah, I was just hanging out with Courtney the other night. He was telling me what I contributed to that song. I did the "na na na na" part.
Offical Evan Dando site
Interview by Evan Chase
Graphics by Matt