Interview with Evan Dando by Mark Blackwell

From Spin August 1992


Evan Dando is in his Boston apartment, listening to Hank Williams and lounging on a sofa chair he's warned me not to sit on because "it looks more comfortable than it really is." The place is a mess-sort of like a college dorm, but more akin to an abandoned flea market with the unwanted junk left behind. The 25-year-old leader of Lemonheads shares the dwelling with ex-Blake Baby Juliana Hatfield.

"Juliana lives like a junkie-without all the drugs," Dando says by way of explanation.

As head Lemonhead, Dando is preparing to embark on a tour to support the new album, It's a Shame About Ray. He's spent the day teaching his Australian pal Nic Dalton all the bass parts, since Hatfield, who played bass on the album, will be touring as Lemonheads' support act rather than as an actual Lemonhead. Though drummer David Ryan from 1990's lovely Lovey album returns, Dando is sort of the only true Lemonhead, in the same way that J Mascis is now the only true Jr. Dinosaur. Dando debuted his band in 1986 and, despite several lineup changes, has since churned out consistently enjoyable, light, driving guitar pop.

The songs on the new album are, for the most part, true stories plugged neatly into fictional frameworks. Most were written during or after Dando's Australian solo tour last year, and while there are no songs about kangaroos or aboriginal land rights, many are personal sketches of Dando's doings down under - simple stories of love and drugs and life in general.

"Here's the girl 'My Drug Buddy' is about," he says, flipping through photographs from the tour. "And here's Alison from `Alison's Starting to Happen."' He explains that "Rockin Stroll" was written from the perspective of the infant son of Robyn St. Clare from Australian sugarpop band Hummingbirds. "It's a Shame About Ray" came partially from a club owner who called everyone Ray. Dando later saw the actual line in a Sydney newspaper article about something that happened to a kid named Ray.

Dando's basically a really nice guy, and he makes me feel so welcome, I quickly turn off the stupid tape recorder and we go get some Vietnamese food and check out a Bullet LaVolta show. Here are five bits of trivia I learned during this time:

1. Dando appeared in a Jell-O commercial in 1975.

2. He dropped out of Skidmore after one semester with a 0.32 grade point average. He "wasn't into the college thing."

3. He'd like to live in Australia because people there are nice.

4. His co-producers, the Robb Bros., once worked with Rod Stewart, and lived next to Charles Manson in 1968.

5. There's a sample from The Graduate on the album, and Dando wonders if he could get in trouble because of it.

Nah, nobody'll ever find out.