AU ABROAD

the AU interview: Bob Evans (Perth)

It’s been four years in the making but the man of many minds Bob Evans is ready to drop his fourth studio album Familiar Stranger. And in the midst of the anticipation we decided to catch up with the man himself for a chat about Growth, Progression and... The passing of the gravy?

With the release date for Familiar Stranger looming excitably close, How are you feeling?

I’m good! There’s just a lot of build up when putting a record out, I finished the album around October last year and you just spend so many months releasing singles and constantly talking about it, you get to this point where you just want it to be released out into the world and be free to do its own thing. I’ll be most happy when it’s out.

You also released an EP, wittingly named The Double Life in November of last year. Does that help take a bit of the pressure off the release of the album?

Only so much as it sort of gave me the opportunity to play a few shows to people that basically care the most about my music... You know? So that was a nice way to ease into it.

Have you approached the recording processes any differently this time around?

With the last two albums, making them in Nashville they were all geared towards making a rootsy kind of record with an authentic, organic sound, with quite old-school techniques. Really classic sounding albums… But this time around I wanted to make a record that still maintains a sense of warmth and intimacy but musically was produced coming from a more synthetic kind of place, not relying so much on those natural techniques and just really embracing a more synthetic background.

You can definitely hear that. Listening back to the earlier releases, it’s almost like The Evolution of Bob so to speak… starting with that simplistic, old-school sound which you mentioned before of The Suburban Kid & Suburban Songbook, but then onto Goodnight Bullcreek where that noticeably boss nova sound comes through. It’s all quite progressive and I think that’s something a lot of artists struggle with but something you’ve really been able to take hold of.

Thank you! I mean with Goodnight Bullcreek the way I look at that record now, for me it sounds like a guy who wants to do something different but is still somewhat tied to the previous record, and has his foot into two different camps... I had one foot in Suburban Songbook and the other in a future direction. Now, with Familiar Stranger I feel I have both feet firmly planted with that new direction and I’m really satisfied with that feeling.

Sort of like, a breakthrough for you personally?

Yeah! And a fresh, clean slate too.

You've recently released the single “Go” and a rather intriguing film clip to go with it… starring you as a goofy, loveable shmuck in the 70’s desperately trying to woe a lady-friend on the beach... and as if it wasn’t going your way enough already a nemesis appears in the form of Tim Rogers! Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Well, that was conceived over a few drinks… [laughs] My wife and I actually came up with that one and it’s certainly one of the silliest ideas for a clip I’ve ever came up with or been involved with. We were just having a few drinks and thought wouldn’t it be great if a villain-like character was played by Tim Rogers as a cameo. I never actually expected that he would say yes! I thought it was a bit of a longshot, making clips can be a bit of drag sometimes so I wasn’t expecting him to jump at the chance. But Tim and I were discussing his schedule and how it would line up, and I said to him as a sort of Plan B that if he couldn’t do it that I would try and get one of the River boy’s from Home & Away to play the part… When he heard that he made it clear that there was no fucking way that was going to happen. So I think the idea of his part being played by a River Boy was too much for him to deal with and that clenched the deal.

Fair call…

[laughs] I’m happy he came onboard.

You’re hitting the road again in April, gearing up for a national tour- How are preparations for that coming along?

Well… there’s been a lot of talking and discussing, eventually we’ll get around to picking up our instruments and playing [laughs, but at the moment we’re still in the conceptual stage. But I’m surrounding myself with a crack team of musicians, and you don’t wanna over rehearse you just wanna let everyone do their thing… Davey Lane from You & Am I is going to be playing Lead Guitar, Tony Buchen who played Bass on the album is joining us... and basically the only person in the band who played in previously is the drummer Malcolm Clarke he is the backbone of the operation; the rest is all new and it’s just going to be awesome. I feel this is the best band I’ve managed to pull together and pretty lucky that they have agreed to come along, it’s going to be a lot fun.

I guess that follows on with the clean slate you mentioned earlier?

Absolutely!

It must be harder to tour since Fatherhood had knocked upon your door?

It’s easier to tour! Because I can get some sleep! [laughs]It’s funny though… how it changes; before I became a Father touring was my opportunity to stay out all night and get fucked up, now touring is my opportunity to sleep.

Again with that clean slate!

I know! [laughs] There’s a theme here, isn’t there?

Do you have a favourite track from Familiar Stranger?

At the moment it would be a song called “To Let You Down”. It’s a song I can imagine being played by an R&B band in a foyer of a hotel at that part where the night begins to cease and everyone loosens their ties and undoes the top button of their shirt. It’s a slow song, that’s played right at the end of the night.

It’s kind of like a white boy soul song but it also pays a bit of homage to John Lennon. I think that’s my favourite, but I’m still very much attached to all the songs at this stage. I’m sure if you asked me that same question in a few months I’d give you a different answer.

Describe what we can expect from Familiar Stranger.

It’s hard to say what to expect because the music itself speaks better than I can. But, I can suggest a few things of what not to expect… and that’s an old country, folk sound or a singer/songwriter record. I’ve tried to make something that’s a departure from the last couple of albums, and I hope that’s the way people will hear it.

It’s important to not underestimate your listeners, the worst thing a band or musician can do is to think that their audience is less capable off themselves, because than you always write to the lowest common denominator and that is how you write shit music. But if you consider your audience to be highly intelligent, and highly capable of taking to musical journeys, than you’re always trying to write something above yourself and reach further. I think that’s really important. Expect the unexpected.

I come from an entire family of Bob Evans fans… Thanks to my brother who many moons ago bought home a copy of Suburban Songbook after seeing your set at Big Day Out. It was circulated around The Webb Household and dubbed ‘The Gravy Boat’ due to its constant passing… I’ve got a feeling Familiar Stranger will be no exception.

[laughs] Oh wow! I’m flattered. Thank you!

Familiar Stranger officially hits the shelves March 15th and for more info on Bob’s National Tour Dates head to http://www.bobevans.com.au/.

Watch his clip for 'Go'