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Interview with Evan Dando by Cameron Gordon

From Chart Attack, December 2006

 

When a teenage Evan Dando helped form The Lemonheads 20 years ago, little did he know he was sewing the seeds of a future global phenomenon. Sure enough, within five years, the band had become one of the most popular alternative acts of the era.

With his trademark blond locks and boyish good looks, Dando became a bona fide alt-rock "studmuffin" (check the July 1992 issue of Sassy magazine to hear Dando confirm this status by discussing girls and sharing his recipe for Morning Noonan Knight chocolate sauce). Sweeter still, the band played in front of massive crowds in North America, Europe, Australia and pockets of South America. It was continued interest from a country in that last continent that helped push Dando to re-introduce The Lemonheads moniker in the summer of 2005.

"The one thing that really spurred me on to revisiting the name was this festival I heard about down in Brazil," Dando says by phone from Hollywood on the eve of The Lemonheads' first North American tour in almost 10 years. "It was an all-day festival of bands covering Lemonheads' songs, in all different styles and sounds.

"That alone really got me thinking about doing another couple of Lemonheads records, the fact that the songs are still staying alive after so many years."

The Lemonheads released a self-titled album this fall that was full of the hook-laden pop-rock and sly romanticism that's the band's calling card. However, the disc also displays a slightly sharper, edgier sensibility with boosted tempos and a rawer sound on the whole. Thank two members of the Descendents, Karl Alvarez and Bill Stevenson, for the shift, as Dando enlisted the punk rock veterans to play on the album.

"I always loved [the Descendents' 1982 album] Milo Goes To College, and The Lemonheads had actually played with those guys 20 years ago when the Descendents were splintering and All were just starting up," says Dando. "Plus, we played with them again around the time that we released Car Button Cloth and the Descendents were reuniting for Everything Sucks.

"All along, I thought they were really talented musicians and great guys, so when I started writing this new batch of songs that were in this faster vein, they were the first people I turned to."

Due to prior commitments, Alvarez and Stevenson are unable to tour the record. Alvarez has been recently playing with Gogol Bordello while Stevenson is busy producing records at his Blasting Room studio in Fort Collins, Colorado. Two members of The Pieces, a nifty Indiana-based power pop outfit who Dando learned about through an old friend, came to the rescue.

"John Strohm from the Blake Babies introduced me to The Pieces several years back, and I really liked them from the start, both musically and personally," says Dando. "They had opened some solo shows I did recently, so when I heard they were breaking up, I lucked out and managed to fill out my band with a couple of really good people."

With a touring band in place and a slew of new and old songs at his disposal, the future looks limitless for Dando. Look for an extended North American tour this winter and well into 2007.

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