Interview with Lemonheads by Leo Finlay
From Sounds Magazine July 7th 1990
Cold Heads on Young Shoulders
Lemonhead are best known in the UK as the band whose cover of `Luka' affirmed that Suzanne Vega was actually a capable songwriter. Luckily `Lick' - from which the single was lifted - had enough original crackers to show that the band could make it on their own strengths.
They recently promoted another cover, Mike Nesmith's `Different Drum', but Lemonheads laugh off any danger of being labelled a covers band.
"We're just very much in love with the song," explains frontman Evan Dando. "Mike Nesmith is cool but we did it cos Linda Ronstadt's version really psyches us. Of course there's a danger of being seen as some kind of bar band..."
"Oh Lord, yes," agrees bassist Jesse Peretz, "but give me danger any time."
"We just wanted to do it," continues Evan, "and at least it's cooler than doing a Stooges cover."
Indeed it is. The covers they pick might have a certain camp value, but there's no doubting the guys' affection for them. Rumours flying around London's ULU before their recent date had the band marked down as doing a full set of Madonna songs.
"I don't know where that came from," laughs Jesse. "I don't think we're quite ballsy enough."
"Or indie enough," adds Evan, "but we usually do `Borderline' - that's pretty cool."
Their treatment is pretty cool, too - even if most of the crowd failed to recognise it. And although 'Luka' was originally recorded cos Vega's version was played on one of their tours, they still kick some life into it.
This is a big year for the Lemonheads. They've got a good European deal - with Fire subsidiary, Roughneck, handling the UK end - while they've signed to Atlantic in the US.
Evan: "Up to now we've
had a pretty run-of-the-mill college radio appeal in the States. We
thought we'd bust out a little."
Jesse: "Actually, we thought we'd sell out a little and sign to a major."
"We signed to them cos we thought they had a really good A&R policy, I think you can see the sincerity on my face. But we've already recorded our new album and they didn't interfere. We've pretty much made the album we wanted to make."
"I can see Atlantic trying to get us out on tour with their big boys, Skid Row," adds Jesse, "which would probably be fun... but only for a few days. We like to have all the attention focused on us."
One band they do dig gigging with is fellow Bostonians, Buffalo Tom, who they'll be playing with at London's Kentish Town Town And Country Club this weekend, before going on tour with them back home.
"Now that will be fun," says Evan, "we get along with them real well, and it's such fun listening to them play."
One thing Lemonheads certainly regard as fun is alcohol consumption. This backstage interview sees a litre of Smirnoff steadily diminish as the guys psyche themselves up... but one of their major concerns is the lack of ice.
"How come people in Britain don't like to drink things cold?" asks Evan reasonably. "Why do you always have to fight for your ice?"
I explain that English people have a weird habit of drinking flat warm beer, but that this oddity won't extend to the rest of their European sojourn. The one problem they haven't considered though is that World Cup mania could well reduce attendance levels.
Evan: "I don't care about sports at all, I hadn't even thought about that. But, shit, there's no sports event in the world that would stop me going to see Lemonheads."