Some musicians struggle to find a unique voice and maintain artistic integrity in a world overrun with performers intent on pursuing conformity in an industry driven more by sales than substance. Those artists that do manage to stand apart as individuals then face the added challenge of retaining creative drive and passion for the music they are making. Fortunately neither of these problems will ever plague the likes of ‘Even’.
The trio, made up of Ashley Naylor, Matthew Cotter and Wally Kempton produce the type of genuine pop rock music that sounds like it is as pleasurable an experience for them to create as it is for listeners to enjoy. This fun loving feeling and positive energy imbues their work with a sense of life and allows them to create instant connections with their audiences. Speaking recently with band member Ashley Naylor he discussed Even’s musical style, their new album and what listeners can expect from them in the future.
With their modern-retro sound, Even have always stayed true to their own style, ‘We’ve pretty much stuck to our guns. We’ve never been pressured to change although I’m sure certain people would have liked us to have gotten out of the indie ghetto’. With refreshing individuality they produce a special blend of music which instantly appeals to the ear. However having the flexibility to follow their own musical path does produce mixed blessings. As Ash explains, ‘One of the perils of being independent, is not having deadlines or readily available funds for recording. The upside is that no one is breathing down your neck’.
After working the live circuit and releasing several albums over the years Even are most certainly not newcomers to the music scene, and yet they continue to retain a fresh and vibrant sound. ‘We play fairly infrequently which helps us maintain enthusiasm for upcoming gigs. I can’t ever recall being sick of doing gigs with Even. I am at a stage now where I would like to see the band become more active once again, and having a new album out will push that along’. While it may have been a while since their last release, album number five is currently in the works. ‘It has been a very slow but rewarding process doing the new album. As we are recording with Wayne Connolly from Sydney, we tend to work around his schedule in short sessions. We’ve been doing bits and pieces recently to finish off. We are edging closer to completion and should have it out by March 2007. I think listeners can expect a more unified sound. Stylistically, we have some longer tracks on the new record more akin to what we are capable of live. I personally wanted to create guitar parts in the way Jimmy Page or Johnny Marr would do, layered but not too bombastic. I think we are all playing at the top of our range on this album’.
Even have always set high standards for their music, never rushing the process, instead taking the time to create carefully considered albums. ‘We all become fuss pots in the studio, which is a good sign. I think we are all perfectionists and the studio can be like a lab at times. Sometimes it is good to let go of a song and trust your bandmates or producer with suggestions. At times I can obsess about certain songs and other times I can be more restrained. Finding the balance is an art in itself’.
While life often seems to grow more complicated by the day, Even have retained a simple objective – to create great music. ‘Our goal with every record is to create an excellent collection of songs which hang together as a whole. We are less single orientated these days; maybe the pop fixation is waning a little. Having said that, this next album is full of catchy numbers. Inspiration can be so fleeting, thankfully we recorded these songs when they were fresh’.
In addition to their quality-filled back catalogue, Even are also heralded as being great live performers, a reputation that is reinforced by the good company they keep. ‘Recently we had a gig lined up with The Soundtrack of Our Lives which got blown out when they did a support for Noel Gallagher, a bummer for us as I would have loved to share the stage with them. We have been incredibly fortunate to play alongside many of our childhood / teenage heroes such as The Stems, Hoodoo Gurus, Joe Strummer, Tim & Neil Finn to name but a few. If Led Zeppelin or the Stone Roses ever reformed I’d probably donate an organ to do so, but not the one Dave Grohl said he’d cut off to play with Zep!!’ And what inspires the band that inspires so many others? ‘It’s always fluctuating to a degree. As our tastes change we all pick up on different styles and techniques which sometimes make it on to an album. There is a country style song we are working on which is unlike anything we’ve ever done and also a more bluesy stomp which is not typically our thing. We all love differing styles of music but tend to gravitate to the guitar based power trio format at the end of the day’.
Even hold a perfect balance between modern and retro, experience and enthusiasm, rock and pop. While these musical elements are normally mutually exclusive, Even are not constrained by such commonplace limitations. Hopefully then we will be seeing and hearing a whole lot more from them in the future. ‘After a three year gap between albums it’s high time we got back into the swing of things and do more touring and recording in 2007’.
I originally wrote this article for ‘The Dwarf‘.