Interview with Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield by Carol Clarke
From Melody Maker 13th November 1993
IS SHE REALLY GOING OUT WITH HIM?
Evan Dando likes to avoid relationships. Juliana Hatfield is a self-confessed virgin. And yet, whatever their sexual orientation, Ev and Jules are indieland's second most famous couple, a platonic Sid'n'Nancy for the grunge age. In this historic tête à tête, Evan and Juliana race each other to the psychiatrist's couch and ask the questions on everybody's lips. Like: is Juliana attracted to animals? And what is it about Evan and dresses?
They skip in perfect time along Kensington High Street, their arms warmly wrapped around each other.
They are rock's odd couple.
Evan Dando: extroverted Lemonheads golden boy and international sex symbol.
Juliana Hatfield: softly spoken leader of The Juliana Hatfield Three and self-confessed virgin.
They head for the bar in their hotel, just along the road, where they intend to get to know each other even better. Evan will interview Juliana. Juliana will interview Evan. And neither will field any question to which they already know the answer.
But, before all this, they have agreed to talk about their "special friendship", which has long been a source of fascination to us all. It's a friendship whose intimate details they are determined to protect, but which has endured months of speculation, comment and gossip.
They still see each other when they possibly can. They still play together in public when their schedules permit, Juliana, most recently, getting up onstage with Evan's boys at Reading. And Juliana still appears on The Lemonheads' recordings, going so far as to lend her unmistakeable vocals to "It's About Time", the "Come On Feel The Lemonheads" album track which, controversially, is all about her.
Evan and Juliana met for the first time in a pizza shop when, they say vaguely, they were "both about 19". It was the day after Juliana first saw The Lemonheads play a prestigious support to The Volcano Suns.
"I liked them,' says Juliana, settling down into a corner table with a glass of mineral water. "I thought they were really earnest and cute, and the songwriting was really outstanding. We met Ben Deily, (departed Lemonhead) that night, but not Evan. There were two front people back then, and I remember thinking Ben was ... wow!"
She turns to Evan, half-apologetically: "it took me a couple of shows to realise your brilliance."
"The next day, I went into this pizza shop in Boston with a friend," she continues. "It was a Saturday, so i it was very crowded. Evan was in front of me in the line with his girlfriend. I introduced myself. I said, 'I liked your show last night.' Then I told him the name of my band, the Blake Babies, and he said his mom had come to see us. He came to see us after that."
"I thought they were something special and I wanted to be friends with them. They obviously liked The Velvet Underground like I did," says Evan, cradling a glass of Beck's. Alcohol, in moderation, is back on the menu offer a period of total abstinence following his recent, much-documented crack crack-up, though drugs and cigarettes are still taboo.
"We went to another Lemonheads gig and we brought them flowers," carries on Juliana. "We said,'These are from us, the Blake Babies."'
"We were opening for Kilslug," chips in Evan. `They were a great band. The guy always had an axe or a scythe. He wore a really, really tight fur vest with no shirt underneath. They were a death, gore, blood, killing, murder, Satan band. And we put Juliana's flowers all round the club, which was a pretty funny contrast."
Juliana: "That night, they gave us a ride home in their van that said 'The Lemonheads' on the side. Then Evan came over to where the Blake Babies were living, and hung out for a while."
"You gave me your demo tape, and that song, 'Rain', I really liked," recalls Evan. "I just knew that now I had a scene to hang out with, which I didn't have before."
"Evan lived in that place, The Condo Pad, for a while; says Juliana. "My mom owned it, and we paid rent to her."
"I lived in people's living rooms all throughout my early twenties, and that was one of them," comments Evan.
"Then," says Juliana, "one of the guys in the Blake Babies played drums in The Lemonheads for a while, and Evan played bass with us."
"I quit The Lemonheads for eight months in 1988," explains Evan. "I didn't like our early records. I wasn't satisfied. All the other kids were going to Harvard, and I just wanted to be a proper drop-out musician:"
'We did a tour in Evan's Chevvy," says Juliana. Evan takes up the tale. "Then The Lemonheads were offered a trip to Europe. That was too much to pass up; I had to take it. But, from that moment, I thought, F*** it, this'll be my band."
He looks at Juliana: "I felt bad when I left the Blake Babies cos I missed hanging round with you guys so much, and I loved playing bass."
"You had to be a front person," comforts Juliana: It just made more sense. I was sad he was leaving, cos he was so much fun. And he was such a good bass player and singer. We never found another bass player that good. That's why I ended up playing bass. We became a three-piece after that."
"You made progress then," offers Evan. "I was getting in the way."
"I was just copying what you played," confesses Juliana.
So what did you each most like about the other?
"He likes to have fun," says Juliana. "He's kept a lot of innocence, which is really good in adults. He's really nice and affectionate, and he makes people feel wanted. He can find something in everybody to get along with."
"I liked her jean jacket with the Rolling Stones tongue," volunteers Evan. "I knew she was really into music, as much as I was, and that attracted me a lot. I just always thought she was someone I could always go to, and hang out with, and know it would be fun. And I admired her attitude.
"I had a girlfriend at the time, but I had a crush on Juliana."
"I had a crush on him, too," reveals Juliana. "But I was cool about it. I didn't make a big deal about it, and that's good cos we've been able to be friends for a very long time. Sometimes people are too intense, and then things blow out really fast."
Evan: "I have a theory that I think we knew we had to pursue our own things and we'd be apart so much, we never should start going out, I never asked her to go out with me. I never knew if she would. But it wouldn't have been good to be too attached."
"We had a good thing going," remarks Juliana. "But music was really important to both of us in our respective bands, so that really decided everything, I guess."
Evan Dando went to Australia in October, 1991 to write songs for this album, "It's A Shame About Ray". When he returned, he again moved into a house with Juliana, this time in Brainer Road, Boston.
"We got along pretty good, but then we started stopping hanging out with each other," recalls Evan.
"I can't remember that time too well," admits Juliana. "I just remember rehearsing every day for an hour to make 'It's A Shame About Ray'."
Four months later, Evan moved out as Lemonmania burst out all over the world, and since then, the pair have spent long periods apart.
Says Evan: "It's always exciting for me to see Juliana. I have fun checking out what's happening with her. It's a good, constant friendship. We went through a lot. I always go back to her."
Do they keep in touch when they're on the road?
"We don't really," answers Juliana.
"Sometimes we do," contradicts Evan. "I remember when I finished 'It'sAbout Time', I called you and played to you. That's a can of worms. . ."'
He catches her hurt expression. "No it's not a can of worms."
'It's About Time" has been widely interpreted as a proposition from Evan to Juliana; that it's about time she surrendered her virginity, and that she should surrender it to him.
"There must be something in there about that," nods Evan, cagily. "Yeah, that interpretation is there. It's blatant, but it veers off at the last minute. It's just celebrating her, glorifying Juliana, that's all."
Juliana wants to know more.
"I get the basic idea of the song," she says. "But I'm curious about one line - 'I don't wanna get my fingers wet, unless it's an accident."
"It's not anything specific," replies Evan. "I don't know what it means."
"Yeah, I like that," says Juliana.
"I do too," agrees Evan. "A lot of the song is Tom [Morgan, co-writer]. He started it. - I introduced the concept of, 'Is this a song about Juliana?' He said, 'I guess so', and we just went on from there.
"In some of my lines, I'm assuming her perspective, or attempting to - 'Touch my leg, it's smooth but there's stubble there.' It was just for a fun exercise. It's just a song."
Are you getting embarrassed?
"Yeah, a little. It's a good can of worms!"
EVAN grills JULIANA
Evan: "What's your favourite song from `Become Who You Are'?"
Juliana: "'Become What You Are'."
Evan: "Excuse me. I'm a journo that got it wrong. Oh, well. Sorry, Jules. I f***ed up. OK, what's your favourite song from 'Become What You Are'?"
Juliana: "I don't have a favourite song."
Evan: "What's 'A Dame With A Rod' ['Become What You Are' LP track] about? It sounds like a specific account of something. What's the deal?"
Juliana: "It's a total fantasy. It's a revenge fantasy about killing a rapist, basically. I made it up."
Evan: "Who's your current favourite female singer? Who has inspired you in the past?"
Juliana: "The biggest inspiration in the past. .. there's two, really. Olivia Newton-John [decidedly MOR country-ish singer] and Exene Cervenka [not at all MOR post-punk screecher]. Lately, my favourite female singer is ... I can't think of any right now."
Evan: "Wow, OK, that says a lot."
Evan: "Do you enjoy all the attention you get from your male fans?"
Juliana: "Sometimes people are weird. You get real psychos. They get too greedy.
Evan: "They get a bit omnipresent."
Juliana: "For the most part, they're nice."
Evan: "Do you love looking out of the window when you're riding in a car?"
Evan: "Me, too."
Evan: "What's your current relationship with Henry Rollins?
Juliana: "Henry Rollins is an acquaintance. I saw him a couple of months ago. We went out for coffee. The song is about being inspired by Henry, by something that this guy does - not him, but his public persona. When I say, 'I'm saying something really deep', I'm trying to explain that I'm not just talking about how I wanna jump his bones. It's about this man, but I don't want people to think, 'She's got this crush on Henry, she just wants his body,' or something like that."
Evan: "Are you lonely? What helps?"
Juliana: "Yes. Notall the time. Going on tour helps."
Evan: "I agree."
Juliana: "Cos you get to be around friends on the road with you, meeting people. I don't live anywhere. I have friends around different places. I don't have too many friends in Boston, which is my home town. You were my friend in Boston, and you left. All my friends left."
Evan: "Except Larry Lifeless from Kilslug. He's still there."
Evan: "Are you worried about World War Three coming soon?"
Evan: "Are you sexually attracted to women?"
Evan: "To men?"
Juliana: "Well, I don't have a very strong sex drive, but I'm heterosexual, yes."
Evan: "To animals?"
Evan: "Do you still have my skis somewhere? What about my ski boots and that acoustic guitar? Do you want to go skiing together sometime again?"
Juliana: "I have them in my basement. And I have to ask you, what happened to my Super Architect shirt with the Superman 'S' on it, and my UVM shirt and my Coca Cola hat?"
Evan: "I've lost them, all.'"
Evan: "Are you excited about the future?"
Evan: "OK, that's good.
Evan: "When you cry, do you understand it?"
Juliana: "Not always, no."
Evan: "Me, neither."
Juliana: "Sometimes I start crying and I can't figure it out. Sometimes I really enjoy it. It feels really good."
Evan: "I don't think there's anything wrong with it. Things like war make me cry. Music can make me cry in a nice way."
Juliana: "Cos the sound is beautiful?"
Evan: "Yeah, and sometimes the words help, too."
Juliana: "Yeah, music makes me cry, I love that it can do that, but it really baffles me. I can't figure it out. A few weeks ago, I was in this radio station in Arizona and the DJ put on 'My Sister' [from 'Become What You Are'] and I started crying as it was playing."
Evan: "People sometimes cry at our shows. It's weird. It's good, though."
Juliana: "Last night, there was a girl crying at our show. I always really love when people cry at my music."
Evan: "It's the ultimate. The ultimate."
Juliana: "It's real. There's no faking it."
Evan: "It could get to the point where they might. Imagine that. Faking crying!"
Juliana: "I love it when boys cry. I wish that more boys would cry in front of me, but for good reasons, not for stupid reasons. Usually, when boys cry, it's for a good reason cos they've been conditioned to not cry."
Evan: "Do you bottle things up as you claim in 'Little Pieces'?"
Juliana: "I mean exactly what I say. It's the problem where you wanna express something but you can't. In some ways it's OK, because people don't want to be bothered with other people's problems, and a little bit of confusion and mystery is good. I let it out in round about ways, like playing shows, and by running, and by smashing bottles and stuff like that. Sometimes you just cannot express some pain or something in words."
Evan: "That's what I see violence as. People trying to be Jimi Hendrix, but they're doing it to someone else rather than the guitar. They're on the wrong track. I don't like it when people solo on other people and hurt them. There's nothing wrong with smashing a beer bottle on a wall. It's good for you. Violence sometimes
is the only solution. If someone's going round killing people, they have to be hit over the head really hard with a baseball bat. In general, though, it's too easy a solution."
Evan: "Are you grunge?"
Evan: "No, OK, cool."
JULIANA grills EVAN
Juliana: "Do you ever feel embarrassed when you're onstage - by the whole spectacle?"
Evan: "You know how it is. Like some nights you just don't feel like kicking ass. You just don't feel like you're up to giving a good performance, so that's embarrassing, and often it's in a big city and people are going to write about it and say, 'They're overrated, they suck.'"
Juliana: "Do you ever just feel embarrassed by people screaming?"
Evan: "Well, yes. Embarrassment is a major thing. I'm embarrassed a lot of the time."
Juliana: "Sometimes I get really embarrassed if the crowd is especially enthusiastic. I can't figure out why."
Evan: "It's like the whole thing of rock'n'roll is embarrassing, yeah. It's dumb. The whole time I've been in a band I've tried to not be like that, tough and cool."
Juliana: "Sometimes, if there's a lot of people, you're sort of forced to act like that.""You wrote 'I'll Do It Anyway' ['Come On Feel, The Lemonheads' LP track] for Belinda Carlisle, to be on her record. She chose not to do it. I think that song's too good for her album. Your lyrics were too good to be on it. Did you hear her new song - 'Situation flammable/Love is a big scary animal'"
Evan: "I think I was stone-walled by this woman, Charlotte. She was in The Go-Go's, and she co-wrote a lot of stuff on Belinda's record. I thought I knew what Belinda needed to release. I think it would have been better for her if she'd taken my song, but I was stone-walled by Charlotte because she wanted all the royalties on the record. Belinda was in LA and I thought it would be fun if she sang on our version of the song, to add that Belinda sound to it. She seems perfectly nice. Sure, I got on with her. She shares my obsession with the Manson family, and all that. But I never really got comfortable with her."
Juliana: "Do you believe in psychiatry? That psychoanalysis can help people?"
Evan: "Yes, I do. It helped me. I went when I was at high school, but I didn't want to go, so I told the guy a bunch of lies. But when I actually did go because I myself chose to, which is when I was living with you, it really helped me to get out of depression for a while, and to realise I wasn't as crazy as I thought I was. It was just nice to be able to talk about how desperate I felt."
Juliana: "Seems like ever since then, your depression is better."
Evan: "I was just immobilised. It was a chemical thing. I think it might have had a lot to do with drug abuse making me depressed. All the doctor did was say, 'You might want to take a break from all drugs for a while and you might feel better,' and I did. And that was a long time ago. I went to Australia in October 1991 to write songs for 'It's A Shame About Ray'. When I got back, I'd finished it. It was all about these things I'd done down there, and I was still there, even though I was back home in Boston. I couldn't make heads or tails of it. That's when I went to the shrink. I loved it down there in Australia. I hated being home. I was depressed. It was freezing. Nash Kato from Urge Overkill came to our house and there was this little tiny black and white TV in the corner with a Walkman on top of it. He said, 'It's a home entertainment centre!'"
Juliana: "He brought a bottle of Beaujolais over, and there was no corkscrew, and he had to push the cork down, and there were no glasses. We had to drink it out of the bottle."
Evan: "He cheered us both up a lot."
Juliana: "Do you believe that women and men are naturally different in some ways, other than physically?"
Evan: "No, I don't. I just don't think they're as different as cultural trends and things have made them be."
Juliana: "That's what I think, too."
Evan: "It's been overly exaggerated by culture and history or something. I don't think the difference is quite as much as people would say it is. I was in Australia, in Sydney Harbour, having a tour of this old boat and this guy was dressed up as an old-time sailor. The kids came up, and they were going to go on this old boat, and the guy said, 'Oh, wait, no, women first.' A weird message to teach kids, I think. All the women went on in a very orderly line and, when the guys went last, they all yelled as they were getting on the boat."
Juliana: "There's no denying that cover versions have done well for you. Does that have anything to do with the first single on the new record being the only song you didn't write ['Into Your Arms' by Robyn St Clare]?
Evan: "I guess it would bespeak my lack of confidence. That was the most simple one, that's all. I thought it was good cos I just love this girl, Robyn, who wrote the song. She's sort of symbolic of this stuff. I just thought it was appropriate, a sort of respectful gesture to my influences."
Juliana: "What's your favourite song you've written?"
Evan: "'My Drug Buddy' from the ones I wrote myself, and 'Big Gay Heart' which I wrote with Tom Morgan."
Juliana: "What's something that you don't like about me?"
Evan: "You slam the toilet seat down really hard. I can't stand loud noises. I always think, 'Oh, I left the seat up'. Do you have to do it so hard to punish me?"
Juliana: "I just don't care enough to he gentle."
Evan: "I don't care; either, but it hurts my ears. I just wouldn't do it, myself. The noise is too severe. The seat doesn't break. It just goes CLUNK."
Juliana: "So tell us, your [hot babe's] outfit at Reading..."
Evan: "It was just an outfit I tried on in LA. A girl called Estelle, it was her whole get-up. I thought it would be fun, just for a joke. Something different and stupid. It produced my favourite review ever. It said, 'It makes serious music journalism futile.'"
Juliana: "Finally, someone admitted it's futile."
Evan: "Hah! I went when I was 12 as a hooker on Hallowe'en in a purple mini-dress, a mink stole and fishnet stockings. I didn't do much trick or treating."
Juliana: "I've seen that photo. You look like a girl."
Evan: "I hadn't really become a man. It was a good thing I took advantage of it. Have I done it since, apart from Reading? Oh, sure, man. I put on dresses all the time."
Juliana: "I think you look nice in a dress. Yeah. Oh, yeah."