With 15 years in the music industry as a solo artist and an extra 6 years as the lead vocalist of Jebediah under his belt, Bob Evans has become one of Australia’s leading storytellers. The Perth based singer-songwriter also known as Kevin Mitchell has had an impressive career that has seen him touring the country multiple times and play alongside some massive names. He has packaged together a collection of some of his greatest hits and personal favourites from his five studio albums appropriately titled ‘Full Circle’. The new album will be released on October 6 and to celebrate he has announced a national run of dates that will see him playing some of his most intimate shows yet. Alongside that announcement he has also released a brand new single, ’Drowning’ which hears him returning to his rock roots.
I recently chatted to Bob Evans about the challenging aspects of working under a pseudonym, where he thinks his music will sonically take him next and found out about his big full circle moment. Check it out;
TB: Reflecting on your 15 years as a solo artist what do you think was the most challenging about musically separating yourself from your solo material and Jebediah?
BE: It was pretty easy from my end as it was very natural. The Bob Evans material is reflective of the songwriting I was doing when I was a teenager first learning guitar and before Jedediah had even started. So I guess it was more other people trying to figure out what I was doing because some people thought I was just playing a character. It was definitely more the whole perception thing which was a real challenge. But then on the other hand there was the logistical side of trying to juggle two musical projects at the same time. And Bob Evans and Jedediah are so different *laughs*.
The Bob Evans project worked so well for what I wanted to do at the time but now I look at artists like Josh Pyke and Paul Dempsey and see how much easier it is when you’re just going by your own name. While having a pseudonym can be a great thing it can also sometimes be a bit of a hinderance as well. I’ve been doing it for so long now but every now and then I think of getting rid of it and just dropping the Bob Evans thing altogether and going by my real name. But once you do that, there is no going back.
TB: Your new single ‘Drowning’ is about being in love but being unsure if you’re saying everything you should be. Was there ever a moment in your music career where you were too scared to speak up about something but now wish you did?
BE: In the early years I was always warned against expressing my opinions on political matters or anything divisive. I was always told to not do that publicly because you don’t want to put fans off if they have different political views than you and to just play it really safe. But in my 30’s I started expressing my political views more openly and now I do it all the time. It’s not like I look back and wish that I had but it definitely was something I never did even when I wanted to.
Because of all of these social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook which we didn’t have 20 years ago when I was starting off, everybody has a public opinion about everything now. And it’s almost expected from artists to speak up. Like when Taylor Swift didn’t come out to support a presidential candidate everyone was asking why. “Why is she silent?”, “What are her thoughts?”. We all expect everyone to express their political opinions now publicly no matter who they are.
TB: You will be releasing a collection of your greatest hits and your personal favourites in October, which is perfectly titled ‘Full Circle’. What encouraged you to take a trip down memory lane and explore your back catalogue?
BE: The timing just felt right after 5 albums. I had just recently done it with Jedediah in 2015 after we had released 5 albums by putting an album out called ‘Twenty’ which celebrated 20 years of the band. And yeah with Bob Evans it felt like I was at that same point. I had just started working on my sixth record and I feel like there is sonically going to be a lot of changes next year and I really wanted to do the compilation thing now while the timing felt right. I feel like it’s wrapping up the past 5 albums in a nice neat little bow and now I will feel more free to push out with the next record and do something a little different.
TB: So are you going to be a little more experimental on the next record?
BE: I probably wouldn’t say experimental because I always try to experiment with my sound. I think it’s still going to be as accessible as my previous material but it’s just not going to sound the same. It’s going to be more of a rock album. I think ‘Drowning’ perfectly gives a bit of a stepping stone towards what the next album may sound like. But its going to draw on sounds and influences that I’ve never drawn on previous records.
TB: Was there a song that you left off the album that you contemplated about including for ages?
BE: There are a few songs I was thinking about for so long but it’s so hard choosing what ones to leave off. One of my favourite songs I’ve done is from my third album called ‘Power Of Speech’. It’s a bossanova song and I’m really proud of it because its different to any other song I’ve ever produced and I think it’s kind of unique. I don’t know any of my contemporaries who have done a bossanova track on their records so that’s kind of cool. I would have loved to have put that on there but there just wasn’t enough room. There was so much thought that went into it because you don’t want to put too many songs from one album on it and you want to evenly space the track listing over the 5 records. But I think we did a good job at striking that balance. Or I hope so anyways *laughs*.
TB: Looking back at your career, have you had a “full circle” sort of moment when you’ve played a show or done something in particular?
BE: *Laughs* I’ve had lots of those moments! ‘Full Circle’ was actually the working title for my last album ‘Car Boot Sale’ because I went into that record very much in the mindset that I wanted to go back to making a record just like the first couple with the style and production. I also had a similar moment when making my fourth record ‘Familiar Stranger’ and it just so happened that I made it at ‘Sing Sing’ studios in Melbourne which is where Jedediah recorded our first two albums in the 90’s. And there I was in 2012 back in ‘Sing Sing’ making a Bob Evans record so it was kind of surreal. One of the first things you see when you walk in the door there is this gold record plaque of Jebediah’s album ‘Slightly Odway’ which was so nostalgic. It was never part of my plan to end up there but it was so cool because the place hadn’t changed and I have so many great memories attached to that studio. So that was a big full circle moment being back in that studio working on a solo album and thinking “wow how did I get so lucky”.
TB: You’re going to be going on a massive national tour this October and November to play some very intimate shows. What can fans expect from these run of dates?
BE: I’m going to be playing pretty much all of the songs from ‘Full Circle’ and touring in a way that I’ve never played before. So instead of performing solo or with a live band I’m going to play as a trio accompanied by a pianist and violin player. I think it’s going to be kinda cool because a lot of Bob Evans songs have piano or strings on them so it’s really going to highlight that part of the songs. No drums, no bass, no electric guitars. Just strings and piano.
I’ve also had this idea of having a song raffle which I’m going to incorporate into the show. So everyone is going to get a raffle ticket and in the middle of the show I’m going to pull raffle tickets out of a box and people can request any Bob Evans song they like. Which means I have to rehearse every song Ive released which is like 80 songs so it’s a little overwhelming *laughs*. I haven’t started rehearsing them yet because it’s a little daunting but I’m going to have to rehearse a bunch of songs I’ve never performed live before and that’s going to be interesting. I have to be prepared for all songs because I reckon there will be people who will take the opportunity to try fuck me up by purposefully requesting the most obscure song of mine to test me *laughs*.
TB: What song in particular haven’t you played for ages that you’re most excited to perform live again?
BE: There’s a song on ‘Full Circle’ called ‘Wintersong’ from my third album that I’ve never performed before. So on this tour I’m going to be playing that live for the first time with piano and violin so I’m really looking forward to that.
I’ve never played it live before because I never thought I could pull it off as it’s quite a difficult song with finger picked guitar. But I think now I can do it, or I hope I can because I am performing it *laughs*.
TB: So lets play a little game where I am just going to say a couple of sentences and you just reply with the first thing that comes to your mind.
TB: If I could form a supergroup with any other band or artist it would be…
BE: Tim Rogers!
TB: The emoji that best describes me is…
BE: The laughing one with tears coming out of your eyes *laughs*
TB: Most people think I….
BE: Smoke pot *laughs*
TB: If I could have any superpower it would be…
BE: It would be to fly! But I also would love to time travel as well, but only back in time to walk through history.
TB: Most mornings I…
BE: Have a shower *laughs*
Bob Evans ‘Full Circle’ National Tour
Fri 19 Oct – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
Sat 20 Oct – Leadbelly, Sydney
Fri 26 Oct – The Gov, Adelaide
Sat 27 Oct – The Rosemount Hotel, Perth
Sat 3 Nov – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne