Interview with Evan Dando by Melissa Bobbitt
From Mean Street, October 2006
Still Juiced Q&A
It’s no wonder Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando considers Keith Richards his greatest hero. Both have persevered through years of copious drug consumption that no mere mortal could survive, all the while churning out some of the most rocking tunes of their respective generations. And as Dando sings on a new track, “Steve’s Boy,” “You can’t break me/You can’t make me go away.” Dando has returned as a Lemonhead, ten years after their last official release, Car Button Cloth. Since then, the king of the elegantly wasted alternative rock scene has stopped drinking, gotten married and recruited Bill Stevenson and Karl Alvarez of the Descendents to give birth to a self-titled album that plays like the polished version of their 1992 classic It’s a Shame About Ray. Dando looks back without regret and looks forward to making lemony fresh music once more.
Last year, you ended up performing all of It’s a Shame About Ray in London. What was the experience like?
It was really cool. It was such a great response from the audience. The two shows sold out really quick. That was another thing that was telling me, “Yeah, this is right to make a Lemonheads record. It’s time.”
How’d you get hooked up with Bill and Karl?
I met Bill in ’87. We were opening up for All when they first started. Met Karl in ’96…The reason I got the band back together in the first place was — in addition to Iggy Pop liking the name of the band — was this festival in Brazil. A bunch of young bands did a festival where they all did Lemonheads songs. I thought, if that’s happening, I’ve got to get the name out there, do another run. We went straight to Brazil and did our first reunion tour down there. It went great, especially in Chile and Argentina. I lost my voice at two shows in Brazil that were pretty horrible but they were very punk rock, atonal. But the rest of the tour was great, and that’s where I met Karl because Karl was in the opening band, All Systems Go.
Then it really finalized when I joined this MC5 revival called DKT. When I’m saying it now, I can’t believe it! All my dreams have come true. I played with Rick James. One time Iggy called me up to write songs with him. I recorded with Jonathan Richman. A lot of my dreams have come true and this record is amazing to me because I was listening to some old cassettes and I always wanted to play with people of that caliber. Now I finally am.
J. Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. plays lead on “No Backbone” and “Steve’s Boy.” How did you get hooked up with him?
I met J. in ’87 ‘cause we were recording — I was in the Blake Babies at that time, I was playing bass. They were coming in at night and recording Bug. I was actually there when they did the last song, “Why Don’t You Like Me?” and Lou [Barlow, bassist] was spitting up blood. And J. saw that I had a ski ticket on my coat and said, “Do you want to come up skiing?” and that’s how we got to be friends.
Many people, especially the articles I’ve been reading now, make such an emphasis on your former drug use. And I admire you because you seem to have no regrets about it.
No way, none, no, definitely not. It’s better to regret something you did do than something you didn’t do. That’s from the Satanic Bible. (Laughs) I mean, what are you going to do? Regret is a no-win situation. I had fun when I was young and I was doing things that young people do. It just got blown way out of proportion. My drug intake messed up a lot of other people worse than it did me. Or at least confused and annoyed them, anyway.