Interview with Evan Dando by Scott Wallace Brown

from The Music Monitor 1996

Out of the Mouths of Lemons: The Crazy World of Evan Dando

Evan Dando, the frontman and only constant of the Lemonheads, has gotten a lot of publicity in the three years since the band's last album, but very little of it has anything to do with his music. Dando's recent musical collaborations have been eclipsed by the constant whisperings about drug abuse, manic episodes and Courtney Love which have dogged him at every turn. But Dando's not worried. He has a strong, eclectic and highly acclaimed new album called Car Button Cloth; he's currently on tour with possibly the best Lemonheads lineup to date; and he was in a sprightly, playful mood during our interview. So sprightly in fact that the only way to report this conversation to you is in the form of the excited outbursts you see below.

On Skip Stephenson, obnoxious co-host of the '70s TV show Real People, who is namechecked on the CD: "Skip Stephenson is dead! He died in 1992. A friend of mine had the misfortune of catching him at a comedy club in L.A. He was totally coked out; he practically had coke coming down his nose. His entire act consisted of talking about [performing unspeakable sex acts with] Sarah Purcell and Byron Allen. Very depressing. A Hollywood tragedy."

On The Elevator Drops, a Boston band who have put out a single about Evan: "It's called "Beautiful Junkie (I Am A Lemonhead)." I've never even met these guys. They don't know f*ckin' shit about me. That's really cheap, don't you think? A cheap way to get your song on the radio. I've heard it. The music's great! But the lyrics are obnoxious."

On his old friends (and new Lemonheads) John Strohm (ex-Blake Babies) and Murph (ex-Dinosaur, Jr.), and the "old school" Boston music scene: "We were on the frontier of doing all this. There are no bandwagon people here. There's a certain level of respect that we all have for each other. We were out in the trenches early on. Nicer trenches these days, though. Luxury trenches."

On touring with Ben Lee, a teenage Australian who wrote and recorded a song about Evan titled "I Wish I Was Him": "I think that Ben is going to love the tour. It's a really good, focused rock show. He wrote that song when he was really young. I hope he doesn't become like one of those sitcom kids, holding up liquor stores so he can buy crack."

On his cover of the traditional country murder ballad, "Knoxville Girl": "I learned it from the Louvin Brothers' version. Nick Cave did it, too. Actually I did it because of Nick Cave; he told me my music wasn't evil enough. You can hear the stab wounds in the heavy guitar parts."

On the perception of the Lemonheads as his backing band: "I am the Lemonheads, actually. When you think of Nine Inch Nails, what do you think of? Trent Reznor. I've been the only Lemonhead for the last four records. It's basically a solo project and I get great people to play with me. And I don't want to call it by my own name."

On his recent film acting career (Reality Bites, Heavy): "It's not important to me. I don't think I'm gonna do any more, unless it's for John Waters. He and I have been talking! I can't really discuss it, that's the rule. But it's gonna be really cool."

On The Aqua Slide, a short story written by a young Evan, featuring a strong command of images (and seemingly incestuous overtones), that has turned up online: "Oh, my God! Did that make it on the Internet? I have no idea how that happened. I'll have to get to the bottom of that. I was eleven when I wrote that. I was a little advanced." 
On the expectations raied by the release of his first album in three years: "I think people were downright ready to attack whatever I did. I felt like I had to do something really special."

On Atlantic's role in making the album: "They just let me go and do exactly what I wanted. They don't know what makes records sell. They're not gonna tell me how to make a record. Christ, I've made eight records now!"

On Bryce Goggin, the producer of Car Button Cloth: "He's done all the Pavement records; he did Spacehog and Chavez. He's doing the vocal at the beginning of "Secular Rockulidge" [the lengthy Black Sabbath-like instrumental which closes the CD]. Isn't that track hysterical? I love that."

On Marlon Richards (Keith's son), who designed the CD package: "He's like my best friend! He does art design in New York. He's just recently become a father; that makes Keith a grandfather!"

On a writer who described a band as "an Evan Dando-influenced marimba band": "You crazy journalists!"