London’s Evans the Death are a whip smart female-fronted outfit who are all set to release their self-titled debut album in April 2012 via Fortuna POP! in the UK / Europe and Slumberland Records in the US.
Coupling main songwriter Dan Moss’ gift for melody with Katherine Whitaker’s unique vocal mannerisms that are redolent of early Chrissie Hynde and the twitching introspective spite of Ari Up of The Slits. The songs both document and channel the exuberance of youth via the prism of five pop music obsessives and were recorded late Summer 2011 with producer ex-Test Icicles and current Warm Brains man Rory Atwell (Veronica Falls, Male Bonding, The Vaccines).Following the release of their instantly acclaimed debut single ‘Threads’ that ripples with their new wavey guitar rhythms and Whitaker’s booming notes in the chorus and the equally brilliant second single ‘I’m so Unclean’ that’s brutal introspective lyrical barbs are utterly compelling and fiercely urgent. Meanwhile the bruised fuzz pop of their recent effort ‘Telling Lies’ built further on their reputation for compelling ‘Kitchen Sink’ pop! Evans The Death could captivate in 2012! We caught up with Evans The Death who are composed of Dan Moss (guitar, vocals), Katherine Whitaker (vocals, keys), Olly Moss (guitar), Rob Mitson (drums), and newest member Lan McCardle (bass) to probe a little deeper for answers behind their burgeoning successes.
Hey Evans The Death first of all where does the name come from?
Evans the Death is the name of the Undertaker from the play Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, but it doesn’t really have any relevance to the band. We just wanted a name that was unusual enough to be remembered but didn’t give any clue as to what we would sound like. I like the ordinariness of the name Evans before the word ‘death’. We hated the name for ages but we’ve just about come to terms with it now.
How did the group form?
Olly is my brother, we were friends with Rob from school and I met Katherine at a gig when we were 15/16. Lan was a fan of the band, then a friend of the band, then in the band. There have been a few different line ups in the past but now it’s really come together.
How would you describe the Evans and the death sound for those that have yet to experience it?
It’s pure pop really but it’s also abrasive and smart. It’s aware of what’s gone before it without deriving from one specific point. We’re loud and brash and melodic.
You are self styled musical obsessives what artists and records have you been listening to recently?
I’ve been listening to late 60’s American records a lot over the past few weeks, by people like The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Left Banke, The Byrds, Scott Walker, The Beach Boys. It changes all the time though, we’re interested in all kinds of music. Sometimes I’ll have phases when I’m not bothered about listening to music at all.
I find your sound captivating that indefinable ability to capture that juxtaposition between youthful naivety and cynicism that are fostered in your teenage years, do you think the best pop music is able to capture that?
Your teenage years are supposed to be a very fraught time when you face a lot of dichotomies like that, and so those experiences can make for great songs, but it’s only one perspective on life. For example right now I’m listening to This Is Hardcore by Pulp, which is a great pop record about coming to terms with the prospect of middle age. Anything can be the subject of a song, as long as it’s honest and says something about life.
You worked with Rory Atwell on your debut album what did he bring to the party?! Where did you record it and over what period? What can we expect from it given the three singles that are floating around at the moment?
We made it at Rory’s old studio in East London over about two weeks last August. It felt really comfortable working with him, he knows when you need a kick up the arse, to make suggestions and experiment, but also when to just help us achieve what’s in our heads and to capture what the band is naturally like. He’s got the Eno: Albini ratio just right. I think expect a record that’s both concise and full of ideas, with a sense of humour, intelligence, sadness and anger. Each song is different but there’s a strong identity that runs through it. We definitely made the best album we could have made at the time.
Your lyrics seem on the face of it to be inspired by everyday personal experiences, and feelings:do you think that it’s a skill in being able to elevate those into pop lyrics and songs that can really affect people?! Dare I mention Kitchen sink pop?Whom are your favourite lyricists and singers?
It tends to be me who writes the lyrics for Katherine to sing, which I suppose is unusual these days but it works for us. I think Kitchen Sink Pop is a fair description. I find it difficult to talk about bad situations directly in lyrics, and I don’t like using overblown cryptic imagery, so I write about mundane moments and thoughts to provide little clues as to what’s really going on. It comes out like that because I couldn’t do it any other way, but I do think it’s a skill in choosing the right everyday images to include so that together they convey something deeper, rather than just writing about whatever you’ve been up to during the week. To be honest I don’t pay much attention to most pop lyrics, I can’t even sing along to many of my favourite songs, but now and again something will jump out at me. I suppose Jarvis Cocker and Morrissey are two lyricists to have had a big impact on me, I’ve been listening to them from a very young age.
Musically some may pigeonhole you into the indie pop category but are you determined not to be labelled as one thing or another?
Absolutely, it’s always stifling for something to be pigeonholed, particularly for a band that hasn’t even released its first LP yet. The indiepop scene is very small and homogeneous and while it’s great that it seems to have embraced and helped us, we don’t feel that we’re very much a part of it musically or otherwise. It’s fuelled by nostalgia for something we were never a part of, and we’re trying to create something exciting and new, so it can be a little frustrating. There are a handful of old 80s bands that are considered indiepop that we are influenced by like Orange Juice, Felt, The Wedding Present or The Jesus and Mary Chain, but it’s only a small percentage of what we listen to.
Do you think that some guitar bands in the UK can take themselves a little too seriously when all an audience wants is a band that can commit to their music with a bit of personality and confidence?
I think there’s too much cynicism involved with a lot of new music. It’s probably a sign of pop music’s age. Bands avoid personality, wit and sincerity for fear of looking like they’re not in on the joke, or that they’re not properly aware of the internet or something. It’s just ironic platitudes and self-conscious kitsch, concept and aesthetics over content. These people aren’t stupid, they’re just not brave enough.
What are your plans for the year touring wise? Festivals?Uk tour?
We’ve got a couple of festivals confirmed so far (to be announced!!) and we’re going to be playing as many as possible this summer. We’ll be touring the UK in support of our album, which is out on the 2nd of April, and generally playing London shows ( 6th of March – Power Lunches, 31st of March – The Drop, 4th of April – Barfly, 13th of April – Old Blue Last, 22nd of May – Madame Jojo’s) before then. We’re also hoping to play out in America and Europe eventually, possibly later this year.
Many thanks and good luck thanks for producing a genuinely exciting sound
Evans The Death release their debut album on the 2nd of April on Fortuna POP!
The new single “Telling Lies” is out now!