Interview with Evan Dando by Sylvia Patterson
From Smash Hits 10th November 1993
“Electricity,” states Evan Dando, limp-haired sensitive plectrum pinger from out of The Lemonheads, “comes from other planets.”
“Yeah! It comes from other planets.”
And which planets would they be?
”I don’t know where exactly.”
And how did you discover this… revelation?
“Blue told me.”
“You can hear it too, for cripes’ sake! (?) Cripes. Crepes! Graci! Stouski! Huuurghhurrghuuuurgh!!”
Dearie dearie me. The above “conversation” is spooky enough but Evan Dando began by talking about his name (a spectacularly Welsh Evan Griffith Dando). Evan is not having the sanest day of his 26-year-old existence. This morning he took 350 American dollars out of his wallet and cut them into tiny pieces. Then he cut up his wallet. The his driver’s licence. He went to rehearse for Top of the Pops, pinched the “Phil Collins” dressing room sign and shredded that, too. You may have seen him on Top of the Pops, voice-a-croak, flinging “confetti” into the audience. That was the 350 dollars. He’s upset. And the reason? “War. And violence. Everything’s… messed up.”
Evan is clinically hypersensitive. And it’s sent him completely barmy. It was all going to so simple. Nip along to Evan’s hotel between Top of the Pops rehearsals, do a quick Personal File, leave, be home in time for the snooker. You know about Personal Files. They’re easy-peasy question and answer things for gleaning the facts of someone’s life: full name, height, most bizarre hoovering incident etc. But Evan is about to make an 18-course banquet out of it. He wants to the “interview” in the bathroom while he’s having his hair cut. He sits on the toilet seat. Lovely. Your reporter is in the bath. Super.
“I am doing…whatever,” he sighs.
“I shall do whatever. That’s the thing about Marshall Amps that makes them so cool, you can make them say ‘I shall’.”
Evan laughs at his “joke”. He laughs, famously, like a donkey.
“Huuurghurgh!!” he goes, wheezy breath sounding like a saddle-bag’s trapped in his windpipe.
OK then Evan. And the first question is… Full name?
Evan’s cheeriness gurgles down the plug-hole. He screws up his face.
“Hnnhnhnn,” he moans. And sniffs.
“Sorry, hang on, my posture has got to be corrected. I have a bit of nerve thing on the left and mmnmn…”
His voice trails off. Another sigh.
He displays 47 different emotions in the space of 20 minutes: hilarity, boredom, paranoia, irritation, boyish enthusiasm, aggression, giggliness, anger, deep sarcasm. This is the fourth time I’ve interviewed this person. Normally, he’s unfeasibly good-natured, a riot of goofy statements about losing his shoes.
Something has gone wrong.
He tells us his date of birth “March 4 1967, Spring/Summer of Live” and this makes him a Piscean. In what ways is he typically Piscean?
“Hold on, I can’t understand what you’re saying, if you’re gonna move your mouth make it happen for me ‘cause all I can say is ‘what?’ Hurgh! What ways? Huuurgh!! I have no idea! I have no frigging clue.”
But we’ve talked about it before.
“OK. OK. You’re right. Um. Well, honesty’s the best policy. Like, um, coo, whoops, like, um, wow man, like, cool,stupid, whoops, darn it. And that’s my answer.”
And this, pop psychologists, is to be the “order” of the day. He tells us he wasn’t actually born: “I fell out! Huuurghurghuuurgh!!” He tells us his height: “Oh, around two and half inches tall.” He tells us his eyes are grey (except they’re blue): “Well, me eyes are blue but I always like to imagine that they are grey, because grey’s my favourite colour!”
Oh dear. That’s a bit dreary.
“No!” he protests. “It’s beautiful! I love the rain. All I know is grey is my favourite colour because it rhymes with gay and Shame About Ray and I like the way the colour sounds. And like, wow, you see, hair gets grey eventually and that looks best.”
He describes his most ludicrous teenage haircut: “Sort of a Billy Idol white hair.” He considers his most over-used word: “They’re not my words, they’re yours because it’s your magazine and I can burn it any time. I don’t have an over-used word, I never say the same word twice. Twice. Twice. Twice. Twice.”
Perhaps Evan grows tired of his tomfoolery for he tells us about his friend who died when he was five after they’d gone swimming together. She had “an epileptic fit, somehow”. It made him scared of dying but that’s OK because: “all children worry about dying. All I know is that the dark was scaring me and I saw things coming at me. “
Evan was a model when he was a tot (his mum’s an ex-model, too). He never thought about being a good-looking nipper: “but I learned that I could be packaged.” He was in a jelly ad at six, got the money at 21, gave up packing shelves and put the cash into the band. And so to high school qualifications. Evan’s only “qualification” is “I can laugh.”
“I can laugh,” says Evan, smiling, “without smiling.”
He sets his face in a stony stare, eyes abulge, and begins to “laugh”. It’s like watching someone have a fit, huge ins-and-outs of chest-heaving convulsions. Of all the nutters in pop nutterdom (and there have been several) I have seen no nuttier a sight than this.
“Huh. Huh. Huuuhuh. Uhuh.” he goes. “Huhuhuh. Huhuhuuhuh!!” He begins to thump his knees.
And does that feel mirthful?
“No. It’s acting. It’s a strange, horrible thing that I do sometimes to amuse my friends. It makes me laugh, anyway, Like… (louder) uuuhuhuh. Huhuhuhuuhuuuhuh!!”
Er, you can stop now, thanks.
We carry on for 10 minutes but the “interview” is irrelevant. This is what fame can do to him (or her) who cannot cope. Many persons of pop go mental, of course, and looks like stardom has knocked Evan clean off his trolley in less than a year. The phone rings. He shrieks unprintables into it and hangs up. It rings again. “Don’t answer that! Just TURN IT OFF! OR GO AWAY!!” We divert him, once more. Is your soul immortal? He stares in disbelief.
“Of course! My soul will go into the ocean. I hope so. Well, I hope my friends will throw me there without a coffin if I die. Let the fish eat me and therefore I become part of the fish. Huhurgh! KnowhatImean? I wanna party on as a fish. Like, wow…”
He’s off again. What is the matter?
“I have to sing tonight,” he says.
Um… are you, like, y’know, OK?
“No. I’m sad.”
“I’m sad about my haircut.”
Now he’s asked to have his photograph taken on the bed.
Valerie, the nice photographer, tries to get him to sit still. It doesn’t work. Evan’s on the bed. Off the bed. He flings himself down on the carpet.
“It’s… hard to be in a band!” he yowls into the springy pile. “I’m sorry. I’m not a bad person.”
He picks up his guitar and begins strumming a Dinosaur Jr song.
Urm, well, we’re off now, Evan.
He looks over, says absolutely nothing. Strum strum.
Ur, take care of yourself, then.