Interview with Evan Dando
From Uncut Magazine September & October 2006
Gods of Grunge article
The poster boy
The glamorous poster boy of grunge, Evan Dando became a dustbin for drugs and very nearly ended up one of its uglier casualties. Almost as if he was trying to compensate for not being from Seattle, and for the fact that the music made by his band, The Lemonheads, was mostly winsome and pretty rather than loud and abrasive, Dando seemed determine to live faster and die younger than his peers.
"I've always been pre-destined to have serious problems with drugs," says Dando today. "Since I was 10 years old I'd been reading Bukowski and Burroughs, and loving the Stones and the Velvets and Lenny Bruce. All my heroes have been complete junkies. It had nothing to do with the times. The experiment sort of got out of control at a certain point, and that did have to do with the anticipation and stuff, all the fucking clichés you want. I was just pre-disposed to getting really out of it."
This last statement could win Dando an award for understatement. Given the colossally altered state in which Dando spent much of the '90s, it's astonishing how lucid and tuneful the Lemonheads albums Come On Feel... and It's A Shame About Ray, still sound. Dando accomplished a fame wildly disproportionate to his record sales - American celebrity mag People voted him sexiest man alive - but also acquired the characteristic Seattle horror of mainstream success. It was a poisionous combination.
"It was weird," agrees Dando. "You can give the classic example of Eddie Vedder; didn't he renounce fame publicly or something like that? Well, that just set up the perfect environment for a band like Oasis who loved the whole thing. They were just really into it. That unabashed hedonism of Oasis was refreshing - 'Fuck, we're rock stars and we like it!'"
Dando, infamously, spent one Oasis tour traipsing embarassingly around with them, wearing a reeking coat he insisted Kurt Cobain had given him, his presence perhaps tolerated only because, at that point, he made the Gallaghers look like stolid pillars of upright reliability and sobriety. Dando then wandered off the reservation altogether, before resurfacing with a tour in 2001, and a fine solo debut in 2003, Baby I'm Bored - a Seattle title if ever there was one. Incredibly, he retained his looks, his knack for a tune, and the daffy hippie guilelessness that endeared him to the Seattle scenesters in the first place. It seems he doesn't miss being a poster boy.
"I treated it all as a joke," he says. "It was funny, but I didn't realise it was getting in the way of people listening to my music. It didn't help, y'know. It helped with chicks and stuff like that - whatever... the girls, women. But they'd be like 10 rows thick and you'd see one guy in the 11th row, so we catered more to the transitory fashions of the fairer sex."