Interview with Evan Dando by John Earls
From Teletext's Planet Sound, September 2006
In the early '90s, The Lemonheads were one of the biggest alternative pop bands on the planet, the sweet melodies shot through with melancholia. Since their seventh album in 1996, Evan Dando has been quiet other than 2003's lovely solo album Baby I'm Bored.
Finally, after a decade, he's revived The Lemonheads. Evan tells PS why it's partially thanks to Eminem...
After the mega-selling albums Come On Feel and It's A Shame About Ray, Evan Dando "self-sabotaged" The Lemonheads.
"The symptom of selling 10m albums is, you become either a pederast, suicidal, a drug addict or your music sucks," says Evan. "I'm pretty intuitive, and around '96 I could see music was going to get weird for a time. When Backstreet Boys hit No 1, it was time for me to duck out."
After 1996's Car Button Cloth, Evan Dando knew The Lemonheads had to take a lengthy break.
"It would have ended my career totally if I'd put out a record that wasn't from the heart," he says. "When Eminem came out, that was the first time in my break that I thought 'Oh, OK, something's coming along that's real - maybe it's time to make a new Lemonheads record.'"
Baby I'm Bored in 2003 was released as Evan Dando rather than The Lemonheads as "it doesn't sound like Lemonheads." The new line-up features drummer Bill Stevenson and bassist Karl Alvarez, both from The Descendants.
"The reason people left the band was I'd go back over their parts," admits Evan. "I always wanted to work with people of the quality of Black Flag, and now I finally am."
Evan Dando was partially inspired to revive The Lemonheads' name after meeting his ex-bandmate Ben Deily.
"I did a show in LA and Ben was there," recalls Evan. "And, kinda to my surprise, Ben wasn't angry. We made our peace, played the old songs together.
"Around the same time, a festival in Brazil was devoted to the band, people playing covers of our songs. I felt it was a good time to get the name out."
Shortly before writing The Lemonheads' eponymous new album, Evan Dando lost his collection of notebooks which had dozens of ideas for songs. "I was in San Diego and left them in a taxi for a second," sighs Evan. "Bang, the cab was gone.
"It was a moulting process, it was time for me to get a new bunch of skush. But I write stuff down all the time, and some of those books were cool."
Evan Dando describes his new album as "The Lemonheads on steroids, as the playing is better than ever." He explains: "We hadn't left enough of a legacy. We weren't the worst band in the world, and it's time to do what we could have done first time round. I don't get much done, writing wise. But it's fun, it's satisfying when a song is recorded. It belongs to you more than any physical thing could."
Looking like he's barely aged since his poster-boy heyday, Evan Dando turns 40 next year.
"Numerology is interesting, but totally beyond me," he shrugs. "Saying 'four-oh' doesn't affect me. But I've got used to it. To get a head start, if anyone asks my age I say 'Oh, I'm 40.' And it feels cool. I've had a lot of fun times. When punk came out, I was 10. That makes me pretty lucky."
When did Evan Dando secretly ingest an eternal youth cocktail?
How else to explain that, not only does he look identical but he sings with the vitality of a teenager? That he can still write the perfect chorus (and does so here on every song) is plausible freak of nature.
But with his new band's frantic playing with the most gusto he's ever had, he's rockier too. If it wasn't so beguiling and romantic, he'd be maddening.