This will be the last of my retro blog posts about Australian, indie bands for the year.
I nearly stopped after the Glide post, but decided to press on to get the Snout one up and also this one about Even, because of this week’s Xmas Even gigs.
I’ve written about Even before. They are a band I have been into since their first EP came out, at about the time this article appeared. It was in the same issue as the Glide interview, which dates it in the first half of 1995. Even are still going strong, with their sixth studio album of 60’s drenched, power pop, being released recently and available through their website. In addition, many of their records are available digitally, at your favourite download store.
My friend Al did the interview and the write up, but I was there at the Black Cat café on Brunswick St, during the interview and I took the photo that you can see below. It was the afternoon of launch gig for the In Stereo EP; their first record.
I am going to put up some more retro articles in 2012, including Rail, The Steinbecks, Snout – talking about pinball, The Meanies and You Am I. It won’t just be old school stuff though; I will be blogging about some more recent bands, as well 🙂
An Interview with Ashley Naylor from top Melbourne “groop” Even. By Al Marshall.
If you’ve seen power pop trio Even live, then you’ll know Ashley’s manic guitar wrestles demand your attention. If you’ve heard “24 hour cynic”, the four minute chunk of minor key magic that leads off Even’s debut EP, you’ll know Even demand your attention. If you’ve seen their EP In Stereo gracing CD racks, well it’s equally attention grabbing. So meeting Ash, the mastermind behind this barrage of in-your-faceness, was something of a revelation he’s a pretty regular, twenty-something, bashful sorta guy…
I love playing, and that’s the purest, and my only motivation.
“It’s very Pete Townshend of me to say this…” begins Ash in explanation of his doppelganger life “I have an alter-ego that controls my music that takes over. There are things I’d say on stage, or do on stage, if I did now you’d laugh. It’s the whole notion of letting yourself go, and feeling your music – fuck anyone who thinks being extroverted is to the bands detriment.”
He’s dead right of course, it’s too damn long since Melbourne’s had any proper rock stars. But the prospect of fame and fortune are hardly a motivation
“I love playing, and that’s the purest, and my only motivation – it’s not the promise of indie rock mega-stardom. People are too careerist about music – they lose focus. It’s an instinctive thing for me – the next step for Even is to put out a record that I think is better than this.” At the tender age of 25 Ash has been around a bit, he’s played in The Swarm, Pray TV for a spell, and for the last couple of years, as well as fronting Even, he’s played guitar in Fragment. He’s been around enough to know if your heart’s not in the music, there’s not a lot of point.
Never assume just ‘cos you’re in a band and you’ve got a pant load of talent that the scene owes you a living.
“I don’t want to sound cynical or jaded you know – but I’m 25 now and I’ve been playing since I was 17 – it’s a bit of a joke for me to be on the other end of the stick to be in a band that people give a fuck about, even if it is only ten people. Never assume just ‘cos you’re in a band and you’ve got a pant load of talent that the scene owes you a living.”
Ironically, the morning of our interview, several luminaries of the Australian music ‘scene’ are gathered in Canberra to discuss problems the industry faces. What problems does Ash see as facing Australian bands?
“Live, original music is grossly underpaid when you think of the money cover bands make, it’s disgusting. Money casts a pretty big cloud over the music scene – money’s not a motivation to this band.”
On the whole though Ash seems pretty positive about Australian music –
“You Am I and Snout rank among my favourite bands anywhere. It’s encouraging to know a band like You Am I have risen from supporting The Hummingbirds at the Tote in ’93 – it gives me faith in the listening public, whoever they may be, they can see quality. I don’t feel limited by the fact that I’m in a Melbourne band, or in an Australian band – no one should. If I wasn’t doing this here I’d be in a folk band in England or whatever – I’d be doing something under another name.”
I had to butt in at this point – a lot of Australian bands do feel restricted. The Go-Betweens, The Church, The Triffids, The Bad Seeds (roll on the canon of Australian rock!) have all felt the need to base themselves overseas at one point or another.
“Yeah . . . who doesn’t want to tour overseas. You’ve also got to remember that guys like Kilbey, McLennan and Forster are very career minded, they’re very forthright. They want to base themselves in London and have a crack at the big time. It does suck that a lot of people reading music papers wait for local band to make it overseas before they give them a chance. It’s stupid that a band should get credence just because they’ve done a toilet tour of Shitsville America. I toured America with Pray TV in ’93 – it’s just the same as here except you’re surrounded by a lot of “yes” people, and you’re playing in toilets smaller than The Punters Club. I had to go to America to experience it first hand – it’s such a romantic notion to go overseas and play. But when you look back at the Melbourne scene from L.A or New York it’s just a piss in the ocean. Music itself is bigger than any scene, If a band’s good enough then people will find out about them if not now, then in twenty years.”
So what book is Ash reading? “I’m reading the Syd Barrett biography, Crazy Diamond. I just finished a Keith Moon one too, so it’s sort of like going from fire to ice…I consider myself to be lukewarm water.”
Even’s EP, In Stereo is out now through Rubber records.