Interview with Evan Dando by Sheril Stanford

From Lollipop May 1997


The man who speaks in CAPITAL LETTERS and exclamation points!!!

So, where are you?
I don't KNOW! I'm on the fuckin' side of the road in fuckin' FLORIDA because my goddamn bus broke down!

Are you serious?

Where in Florida?
I don't know!!

You're miserable!
Yes I am!

You hate that!
I do!!

What can we talk about that will make you feel better?
Ummm, tell me who some of your writing influences are.

Well, let's see... Wait a minute - whose interview IS this anyway? You can't do that!
Yes I can! I can turn it around if I want to! Is there anybody special in your life these days?

Nah, everybody hates me.
Really? Everybody hates me, too! I'm America's most hateable person. I don't think so, but it certainly does inspire a lot of people to talk about you. Can we talk about that?

Sure, let's, huh? I know you're a smart guy...
Yeah, I'm pretty smart...

So when you say all these goofy things, do you know EXACTLY what you're doing? (laughter) Is it just a media-manipulation thing... or do you just have NO self-preservation instincts whatsoever?
You know, I DON'T really have any self-protective instincts. I'm too trusting. I'm too honest and trusting! It's true! Oh, man! I don't know. It's like it's totally inherent! What can I do? What can I do??!

I dunno - maybe you need somebody to take care of you?
I can take care of myself (laughs). Well, I'm getting better!

Don't you think people want to hate people who are really attractive?
Yeah, I guess so. Or something. Like Warren Beatty, he's an attractive guy. You think?

Well, he was. Would you go out with him?
Sure, what the fuck. Why not?

What do you think about this? Somebody said about Courtney Love, and she's a pal of yours, right...
She's a pal, sure.

...that people are intrigued by her for the same reason they're attracted to car accidents. What do you think about that?
That could be true. Lemme tell you something. Courtney Love is supremely talented and a very, very smart woman. That's why she's successful. Not every fucking walking disaster can have the success level that she's had. You talk about me being calculated and trying to put one over on the American people... I think Courtney knows what she's doing. That's all I'll say.

Do you think you're two peas in a pod, as my grandmother used to say? Except that maybe you're a little bit more of a clown?
Yeah, yeah, probably. I haven't had as many tragedies as Courtney has.

Have you had any tragedies?
No, no major tragedies. My parents' divorce fucked me up really hard. I was thirteen, man! But that's about it.

I'm talking to you from Boston, and I know this is home for you - do you get back here much?
You live in Boston?! (Rambling conversation about neighborhoods we've lived in; We also go off on local restaurants for while...). Sure, I'm around. I go visit my friends, like Todd from Juliana Hatfield's band, and Juliana, we're still friends.

Are you a loyal friend?
Very. Or I've become one. For a few years there, we were all off in our own little worlds, but things are going really good now.

Yeah, seems like it - are you happy?
I am, I'm a happy guy. Pretty happy. You know, I've got this hole in my soul that everybody has, I guess... It's hard to tell.

How does the creative process work for you, what inspires you, do you carry a little book around...?
You do, you inspire me.

Knock it off, I'm serious.
No, what people say to me inspires me. This girl I met the other day, she said to me... Wait a minute, let me look in my book, can you hold on a minute? She said, are you ready? "I work in a yogurt shop, but I don't like Sheryl Crow."

Wait, I heard this! This didn't happen the other day - I already read this somewhere!
Yeah, it happened a while ago. But it was, like, a total non sequitur.

You're into those. I was a little worried I wouldn't be able to keep up with you...
Yeah, but I'm doing okay, right? They told me to try to be better at interviews and I'm getting better. I'm not being as prepositionally challenged as I usually am.

I heard that one, too. Busted. You and your split infinitives - you're a grammatical maniac!
How come you know all this stuff about me?

I read a lot of music magazines and you're in every goddamn one of 'em. Do you like doing interviews?
Yeah, sometimes. When I'm in the middle of doing, like, ten in a row, it gets kinda harsh. You're my sixth. But I'm a pro. It's what I do. It's part of the job, man!

Okay, so let's go back to the creative process...
These little books are filled with EVERYTHING. And then I've got my guitar with me all the time. Keep the shop open all the time! Billboards, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, and people eating blue food... Do you know what I'm talking about? (Then we talk about what he's talking about - it's not transcribable...).

I heard this interview with some contemporary fiction writers and one of them said she heard a voice, like, from God...
Oh, fuck that! The closest thing I ever had to anything like that was I dreamt the song "Something's Missing," no, it was "One More Time." I dreamed it. I was on stage and I kept singing "One more time, one more time," over and over, for hours in front of this huge crowd, and it wouldn't end. I woke up and just started playing the song. I grabbed the guitar and just sorta figured it out, it's scary. You know who else that happened to? Keith Richards - he wrote "Satisfaction" after hearing it in a dream. It's a good song. I have MUCH in common with Keith. I'm really good friends with his son Marlon.

Wait, is that who's house you set on fire?BR> No. I don't want to talk about that. (He means it.)

So, I guess you don't believe in God?
I believe in the ocean, man, come on!

Still spend time on Martha's Vineyard?
Yeah, I go there every summer. I rent a house up on Gay Head. It's the true Internet, that ocean. It is, man. It's the real Internet. It's the ocean!

Wha... What do you mean? Do you get, like, messages in a bottle?
No! It's everyone's! It's the ocean! Fuck this, man! I know we're doing an online thing for you.

This isn't online. (Well, it is now.)
It isn't? Oh. I thought it was for some fucking computer thing.

Why do you hate the Net?
I'm a Luddite, man! I repel any technological advances. I don't wanna know about them. You wanna know why? Because every technological breakthrough does nothing but isolate more people to stay in and not do anything. AND NOT DO ANYTHING! You wanna know what the downfall of this society is? It's the fucking TV! You know what destroyed the American family? It was the industrial revolution. Suddenly the father had to be away from the family for eight hours a day and then come home grumpy. And we keep doing these things that keep destroying the fabric of... PEOPLE! It's pissing me off!

I can tell!
You wanna imagine something? Can you imagine with me for a second? Think of the man hours and the man power and the time and the energy and the effort that has gone into creating the Internet and 600 channels on the TV. If you took all that energy and shifted it over and used it on helping people and solving things... Could you imagine?

Do you ever go on the Net and look around?
I don't even own a computer.

Someday, just for your own self edification, you should go online and check it out. You'll see just how correct your theory is - you'll find ALL of your lyrics, word for word, that somebody has typed up and put on the Net.
Oh god! Go out and be a Big Brother or something!

Do you watch TV?
Not much.

Playing an electric guitar's all right though.
Come on. You know what I'm talking about, right?

You're right, I'm just being a jerk.
I know you know what I'm talking about.

So how have things changed for you since that first big gig with the Ramones at Brandeis?
Wow, that's going back. Things are VERY different. For chrissakes, I'm almost 30, first of all. I've been through a lot of shit. And it's very hard to be private, but things are very different for me personally, and that reflects on the band and what I write about. I'm trying to be a more focused rock band now. The lyrics on this new album (Car Button Cloth) are very personal because I wrote them from a very clear kind of perspective.

Somehow this album feels like you were on the inside looking out when you wrote it.
Exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, sorta. I reached in and it was very easy for me this time to recount the feelings when I was on the inside because before, I was on the inside, but I couldn't really articulate it because I was too immersed in what was going on.

I was talking with someone the other day...
Who was it?

A friend. My upstairs neighbor.
Guy or girl?

A woman.
What's her name?

My mommy's name is Susan.

Your ex-model mom.
Model A.

So anyway. We were talking about how doing drugs and getting all fucked up changes you and changes the creative process.
It doesn't make you YOU, that's for sure. No, I don't think it makes you a version of you either.

Do you think it makes you a better or worse artist?
It had nothing to do with my art. It just made me a worse person, I think.

Why'd you do it?
You have to figure out ways... There are a lot of different reasons, man. That's a very personal question. I'll say this - nobody gets THAT immersed in drugs for fun - that's all I'll say. It has NOTHING to do with fun. There's a difference between doing your share of it and it completely dominating your every move. Everybody does it for different reasons, I think, whether it be a very cool, slow way to kill yourself, or suppressing what you can't feel because you need to be working, or whatever.

Is that how you felt?
That's not what I said - you don't even know I'm talking about myself. I could be talking about someone else for all you know. I didn't say, "I," did I?

Nope. No, you didn't... Are you getting pissed off at me?
No (laughs). You know, I'd rather not talk about this shit. It's in my past and it's over. This only fuels everything when we start talking like this. It perpetuates the fucking bullshit.

You're such a "personality" - doesn't it bug you that interviewers always wind up asking about you instead of your music?
I know! That sucks! The whole point of this record is that I want... You know, I haven't been doing any of those photo shoots and no more fuckin' tabloids - I'm cutting that whole thing out of my life for this record because I want people to know what I do, and that's write good pop songs. I shouldn't be famous for my reputation and not for my work. Think of that. I'm a grownup - I'm gonna be 30 in the Spring! I love getting older! You want me to make you feel better about getting older? Would you want to go through how you felt when you were 22 ever again? Would you wanna feel that way? Or like when you were 16 or 18? The more you learn, the easier it gets. You figure out life each year a little bit more.

That's true, but it's exciting to be so confused all the time!
Well, I don't know. I gotta go, I got another interview in like, ten seconds....