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Interview with Evan Dando by Richard Hector-Jones

From City Life May 2003

 

Well so would you be if you'd been leader of America's sunniest band, came as close to the edge with drink and drugs as a rocker can get, then clambered back with a solo record to rival the old days. This is how Evan Dando just got better.

He may have been through drug hell, booze hell and any other amount of personal temptation that life can throw at the mortal musician but even so, Evan Dando comes across as one seriously lucky puppy.

"I'll be the first to admit I'm really fortunate," he says quite freely. "I have no idea why and I can't explain it."

Evan Dando is back. After a few years in the wilderness that have been well-documented in less salubrious publications than this, the one-time lead singer of The Lemonheads has recorded a new album and is on the eve of taking it out on tour around the UK.

"I don't really regard this as a comeback," he says amused at the suggestion, "More of a reactivation. I guess if I sell a lot of records then we can think about calling it a comeback, huh?"
Years ago, The Lemonheads were on the cusp of being enormous, in fact they were enormous but could have got even bigger. A catchy cover of Simon & Garfunkel's 'Mrs Robinson' (only ever intended for release on a compilation oddly enough) catapulted a one-time obscure Boston, Massachusetts punk rock group with a ear for great melody into the first grunge pin-up band your mum would like because Cobain looked, frankly, like he'd steal your purse and buy smack with it. Turned out Dando was also doing all the drugs at the same time as Kurt but he had nicer teeth so magazines from Just Seventeen to NME were happy with their golden boy. Regardless, during this time The Lemonheads made a string of incredible albums. Then came a period of inactivity followed by some more no doubt exemplary recreational drug use that led a whole generation of perfect pop lovers to wonder if they'd lost their hero for good.

"I think maybe I was a little too open about discussing my drug use," says Evan on the matter. "To me it was no big deal. So many people get to quit without talking about it." And that's the price of living your life in public, we agree.

Evan's solo album is really very good but we all deep down knew it would be. Seeing The Lemonheads play once at the Boardwalk still rates as one of the most life affirming experiences I've had without help and effortless charm, confidence and bristling energy still ooze from both Dando and the new album Baby, I'm Bored. The chirpiness might have abated a tad with maturity, replaced with a new found awareness of mortality evident on opening song 'Repeat'. And yes, Evan Dando has still got one of the best voices in rock music. Lucky bastard.

"Audiences have been really good," he offers. "It was the audiences that convinced me that it was time to make another album again. In fact it was a midnight show at The Olympia in Dublin that clinched it when a thousand people turned up to hear me play my songs."

So what does Evan Dando do now that he lives his life on the straight and narrow?

"Actually my life's not changed very much at all," he says. "I just don't drink any more. That was the thing that was really killing me more than the drugs. Nowadays I take the occasional puff of pot after a gig but that's all. Skateboarding around and going on tour is how I get my kicks these days."

 

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