Interview with Evan Dando

From The St Louis Post 7th November 1996



During his 10 years fronting the Lemonheads, Evan Dando has earned a reputation as a flake. With his hunky good looks and a spontaneous and likeable goofy nature, some articles have gone as far as to label him something of a male rock `n' roll bimbo. 
But with the new Lemonheads' CD, "Car Button Cloth," Dando and his record company, Tag/Atlantic, have been taking pains to emphasize Dando's songwriting and the band's music. 

Yet, in a recent interview, Dando did little to dispel his goofy image, offering very little in the deep-thought department. Instead, his responses frequently degenerated into giggle-filled observations on anything from the virtues of playing at Mississippi Nights (the nearby Embassy Suites Hotel makes it easy to throw after-show parties), to how his parents in New England tend to quit giving their children money if they quit college (as Dando did, leaving academia after a short, disinterested stint at Skidmore College) to the rumor that the Rolling Stones song "Angie" was actually written for Carly Simon (Dando even strummed a few bars of the song).

And while Dando stressed that he had taken a more serious approach to "Car Button Cloth," he perhaps best summed up his career outlook when a question about his ditsy rocker image wandered into a statement of purpose about being in music. 
"I can see why people talk about my behavior rather than my music because it's more fun," Dando said. "It's a pretty funny story, like I've done some pretty silly things in my life. I've made an effort to have an extremely silly life. A strong sense of fun is what's most important."

Still, Dando says he gets frustrated with the attention he gets for his personality and his looks. 
"It's bizarre, stupid, irrelevant," Dando said, rattling off choice descriptions. "Look, I am just a guy who likes to have a good time, a weird time. I like to do, like, cartwheels in public, you know, whatever." 
With the general light-hearted nature of the interview as a whole, it was difficult to determine if Dando was being candid when he talked about his approach to "Car Button Cloth" and his career. 
"My corny ambition on this record [was to do serious work], like I'm going to give it my all," Dando said. "I'm going to try to make a lasting contribution to rock. I really wanted to, and next time, I'm going to try that much harder."

Perhaps it really makes no difference whether or not Dando regards his art soberly. After all, the Lemonheads have produced enough good songs over the past decade to give fans reason to pay attention to their music. A string of early independently released records, "Hate Your Friends" (1987), "Creator" (1988) and "Lick" (1989), established the Boston-based band as one of the most-noted groups on the independent music scene.

Since signing to Atlantic Records, the Lemonheads' sound has grown poppier over the course of four CDs - 1990's "Lovey," 1992's "It's a Shame About Ray" (which yielded a breakthrough hit with a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson"), 1993's "Come on Feel the Lemonheads" and now "Car Button Cloth." 
The new CD will sound familiar to fans of the Atlantic releases, with plenty of sturdy pop-rockers such as "If I Could Talk, I'd Tell You" and "It's All True," plus an occasional country-tinged pop tune such as "The Outdoor Type" and "Knoxville Girl."

Dando, however, sees a slight return to the group's rowdier sound on the new CD. 
"When we started, it's like all we wanted to do was be as punk as possible. That was our only thing," Dando said. "We wanted to be like the Seeds, really loud guitars and screaming. But we sort of lost the urge, you know. I don't know why. I got more interested ... in different textures. But [the punk rock influence is] still there on this one. That's what's cool. This record's hardened up a little bit, I'd say."