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Interview with Evan Dando by Tony Morley

From Lime Lizard September 1992

Pipped Again

Evan Dando is cool. That should go without saying. He's just made the coolest record. It's A Shame About Ray, he calls it. You really oughta hear it. The kind of record you should buy and rush home and play and play and play 'til you know all the words then play it to all your friends 'til they know all the words too, y'know, just like you used to when you found a peach of an album. Last year, the candy-coated melodies of Velvet Crush had that effect on me. Summer '92, and Ray is the only pop record that matters.

lemonheads - evan dando, dave ryan and nic dalton

After an abortive transatlantic call to Vancouver at eight-thirty in the morning their time - Evan was still asleep - I eventually catch up with him the following evening from his record company's plush offices in Kensington, only to find myself sandwiched between breakfast in Victoria, BC, and a ferry boat to Seattle, where Dadno and his band, the Lemonheads, are due to play that evening. Sitting in this hideously anodyne boardroom in the presence of an enormous photo of a suitably cherubic soft-focus Mick Hucknall, juxtaposed beautifully with a triple platinum disc for Stars, I have to ask how the corporate megagiants are treating him.

"All of a sudden it got ok," he says, in the kind of sloppy East Coast accent that never fails to endear hairy American college rock bands to British college kids. "This guy Danny Goldberg came to work for Atlantic again. He was this kinda hotshot kid who found himself as Led Zeppelin's publicist when he was 22. He's pretty cool, I think, in favour of taking us seriously a little bit, as an actual potential real band to actually try to sell records by. Before we were just a tax right off or something. I don't know what we were, but they weren't into it. Allegedly it's a record company but they just don't do anything to help you get the music out."

A common enough complaint - almost every band I've interviewed has said the same thing. But surely there's a potentially massive audience for the Lemonheads' brand of country-tinged guitar pop out there somewhere? People that would thrill to the total sherbert fizz of Bit Part ("I wanna bit part in your life/A walk on would be fine"). Or the outrageously singalong Alison's Starting To Happen. Or the countrified melancholy of Hannah & Gabi. In an age of 'CD length albums' and alarming critical acclaim for some really tedious prog-rock bollocks, there's a refreshingly old-fashioned brevity about an album that clocks in at under thirty minutes, not one song over three and a half minutes. Maybe someone up there's worried about the blase drug references of the gorgeous, um, My Drug Buddy. Anyway, who wants 'em big, wouldn't it spoil the fun of hearing Confetti (soon to be remixed as a single), with it's "Kinda shoulda sorta woulda loved her if he coulda" chorus, if all the world knew their name? Can you actually listen to Nevermind anymore? We hate if when our friends become successful, as somebody successful once said. Right, that's settled then, Evan Dando will never be rich. Ha! Throwaway pop songs forever!

"I've actually been corresponding with that guy Dan Treacy about this subject," says Dando, "y'know Dan Treacy from the Television Personalities? Well we been talkin' lately about how all you need to do is come up with a title and then you can write the song really quickly. It's true! You think of a title and then... you're done! Especially with something like It's A Shame About Ray - we thought of that title and then after the first line it just rolled right out."

So you can just write songs in a few minutes?
"Sometimes, yeah. Like Confetti and Drug Buddy were both written in ten to twenty minutes."

Thus the weirdly-titled Ceiling Fan In My Spoon, a fine exercise in post-punk pop, but a bit worrying on the what's-it-all-about front, is "about being in a bad mood and sitting down at a table in a restaurant alone and looking down at your spoon and you can see a reflection of the fan in it..."
Obvious really
"I'm into simplicity. The first time you do it often it's best, y'know?"

So the 'Heads have done their hardcore albums, they've done their patchy rock album, they've been through their daft covers phase and have just made the best pop album of the year. Where does Evan go from here? "I'd like to write, I wanna write fiction someday. But I wanna wait 'til... well, it won't be long before I'm pretty old," he says, modestly (he's only 25), "That'll be the next thing I wanna try."

We'll just have to hope it's not too soon.

 

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