Bob Evans (aka Kev Mitchell) is heading out on his Lonesome Highways Tour to continue spreading the word on his newish album Car Boot Sale which has been doing really well. Kev was in a jovial mood and keen to talk to Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles about his tour, Jebediah, his bro-mance with Josh Pyke and writing for another record.
Another big tour, it shaping up to be a big year?
Yeah, this tour was originally planned well I thought I would be doing this at the end of last year but as fate would have it and intervened what dropped in my lap was this brilliant opportunities which was after I did my Car Boot Sale tour was A Day On The Green with Jebediah then this tour I did with Josh Pyke which took me all the way to Christmas. This kind of solo tour has been pushed back and pushed back so now here I am doing a solo tour through the middle of this year.
How do you cope that your Bro-mance with Josh has been temporarily been put on ice?
Well I’ve been rocking myself to sleep in the corner of my bedroom with my very concerned wife wondering what was wrong with me because I sobbed myself to sleep. That tour I did with Josh was so much fun and we’re already talking about what we’re going to do together next. It is something that we would like to continue.
Well if the Basement Birds got back together it would be a great ‘ole party?
Never say never but it is not on the table at the moment. I can assure of that it isn’t on the table. I wouldn’t be the one to knock it and say no put it that well.
Have you been stocked with how well Car Boot Sale has gone?
I’m really proud of the record and it is the favourite one I’ve done since Songbook for me personally. That’s a big part of the challenge, fifty percent of it is finishing it and coming up with a product I really love and it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes I finish a record and I’ll think is this any good I don’t know any more.
Does it feel like winning the lottery when it comes to the right songs?
A little bit! That can happen definitely and there have been times like Suburban Songbook was an example of that. The first single that was put out before that record came out was Do You Think It Is Time and to this day is my most commercially successful song.
The whole idea with that song was that it was going to be this soft introduction in to the record and that the second single we put out was supposed to be the one that would get played on the radio and all that kind of stuff. It still got played on the radio but Do You Think It Is Time ended up doing way, way more than we ever thought it would and intended it to. I didn’t see or predict that! It can be a little like the lottery in that you don’t have that kind of control over it. So much luck is involved in music generally.
The Lonesome Highway tour will feature at The Grace Emily Hotel again and if last time was anything to go by this will be another great night.
I have really fond memories of that show and that was the very first show of that tour the band played together. I guess the reason why it went and felt so good was that it was the first night and there was a little bit of nervous energy going on stage. It went so well that everyone was on a high and definitely one of my favourite shows I’ve ever done in Adelaide.
A big part of the reason why I am coming back to be honest and I wasn’t necessarily going to come back to Adelaide on this tour, and I’m not going back to Perth, this could have been just an eastern states tour but that show was that good and I had such great memories of it I was insistent with my manager and booking agent that I really want to go back to The Grace. It will be different obviously because I will be on my own and not with the band but maybe there is something about that venue that feels really good as well.
The Zeroes To Heroes EP is a great concept and a lot of artists who have songs left over usually let go of them and never look at them again. Were these songs to good to let go of?
Um, well, really, I do all my demoing and writing in my garage and I write so many songs and make so many demos every time I’m preparing for a record only a small minority of those songs end up going on a record. About a dozen on a record and about forty that miss out and over the years I’ve amassed all these songs. They all vary in their quality and for ages I have wanted to do something with them because there are songs I still really like and as years go by I go fark this is really good, I forgot about this song. Also, nobody gets to hear the songs before you go in to the studio and put them on a record.
I thought it might be an interesting exercise or curiosity to some people who buy my records and like what I do to give them a window in to that world which is a very solitary world where I’m at home making my music and no one else is really a part of it. I don’t know, maybe it is an opportunity for people to be a little voyeuristic and see what my stuff sounds like before I have a fancy producer in a fancy studio with fancy musicians helping me make the final product.
Does it become clearer now whether a song fits better in Bob Evans mode or Jebediah mode?
I don’t really write in Jebediah mode anymore which is probably why we haven’t made a record in six years. I used to have an amp set up when living in share houses in Perth and I had a combo plugged in my bedroom, the guitar was never far away. I used to play really loud electric guitar in my bedroom all the time and I used to write songs like that. I haven’t done that in ages, I do everything on the acoustic guitar, sometimes on the piano or keyboard. I will still write something that still sounds like a Jebediah thing more than a Bob Evans thing but generally when I put on a hat, well I don’t even do that, I start writing and most of the time it ends up being a Bob Evans thing.
Is Jebediah still bubbling away in the background?
I’m going to say yes! As long as we’re together, having a great time and playing shows there is always the possibility of writing another record. As long as we’re not broken up the idea of a new record will always be in the back of our minds. It is not something that we’ve started working on yet.
Well, those Day On The Green shows were great…
They were… that’s very kind of you! We had a ball and when a tour like that falls in your lap, you just get a call one day and saying hey. Something For Kate, You Am I and Spiderbait were already locked in and done the deal then they were looking for two more bands to join the bill. We were one of many that were considered and we ended up getting the call.
Those things really just fall out of the sky. I had actually heard a rumour that something like this was being put together but until you get a proper proposal you just go oh yeah we’ll wait and see. It fell in our lap and we really felt grateful that we got to be a part of it because there were a lot of great bands that could have easily taken our place.
It must be great to be able to spread your wings and head to Japan?
I haven’t toured overseas with Bob since having kids strangely enough. Once we started a family I decided that I wasn’t going to bother doing overseas stuff. This Japan gig came along and I had never been to Japan before so not even as a tourist or anything. It felt like one of those things I had to experience more than anything. Jebediah records have been released there over the years and it will be interesting to see what sort of a crowd shows up and how it all goes. It will be a real experience.
What happens beyond this tour or do you get to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts?
You can’t spend too long enjoying the sunshine because it doesn’t last which is the problem. I’m going to be touring really hard until mid June and then I will start concentrating on demoing and writing for a couple of months. Jebs will be doing a bunch of shows later in the year which haven’t been announced yet.
There’s a couple of Midnight Oil shows in October that we’re doing which is cool and yeah hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have an idea of where I’m at for the next record. I already have an idea about what sort of record I want to make so it’s about writing and doing what I always do which is amassing as many songs as possible until I get to a point where I have a dozen that are going, well I think they’re good.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch Bob Evans on his Lonesome Highways Tour. Tickets from Bob Evans website.