Features August 23, 2018

Bob Evans comes full circle with a different kind of hits set

Bob Evans comes full circle with a different kind of hits set
Pic by Tajette O'Halloran

When Jebediah’s Kevin Mitchell decided to put together a retrospective Bob Evans album Full Circle for his character Bob Evans, he decided he’d approach it in a different way.

Rather than a collection of singles from five albums, he saw it as an introduction to someone who’d never heard of Bob Evans’ work.

The October-due set has stand-outs like Don’t You Think It’s Time?, alongside Wintersong off his third album, which he included because he loves the song. There are also triple j and Double J live recordings of Buzzcocks, Santigold, Little Birdy and Lily Allen songs, as well as duets with Josh Pyke and Kirsty Lee Akers, and studio covers of songs by Red Jezabels and The Beatles.

Full Circle features a new single Drowning and is accompanied by a five-city run in October.

If you’re wondering, the pseudonym came from a T-shirt he found in a Perth op-shop with the number 15 on the back, and the name ‘Bob Evans’ printed on the front.

You’ve said things make sense to you musically usually in retrospect. Which of these songs came clearer to you, or made totally different sense, in hindsight?

“When I was writing Someone So Much, I didn’t really know what I was writing about. I was just creating images in my head and describing them.

“I think that’s the kind of time when a song reveals itself to you later because you’re not writing so directly, rather a little more abstractly. I don’t write like that all that often these days but in the old days, I would write like that most of the time.

“So Someone So Much revealed itself to me as a song about grief and missing someone and how being in an old environment where that person used to fill you with memories of them.”

Like looking at an old photo album, did assembling these tunes create a sense of nostalgia for the time or experience or person the song was written about? Any specific examples?

“Not really a sense of nostalgia, because these songs are all songs that I’ve continued to live with through playing them live.

“They are not songs that I’m digging up out of the vault and revisiting for the first time in ages.

“So the track listing of this album really kind of reads like a setlist to me. When I’m performing these songs I’m often transported back to the place or people that inspired them. It can be a very unnerving feeling sometimes!”

Alice Cooper told me that the great thing about creating a character is that it never grows old. Comments?

“Yes, well, I suppose he’s right. Bob Evans started out old though so there’s a problem! But I guess he’s right in that when you inhabit a character there is a suspension of disbelief that occurs.

“I think that’s probably true of anyone who performs though, whether they are inhabiting a character or being themselves.

“They are still expressing a certain part of themselves, perhaps in an exaggerated way, every time and when we are invited into their world, it kinda always looks the same in a way.”

How many people with the name Bob Evans have you met in your life? Any of them memorable?

“I am friends with a few of them on Twitter. They are all American-based.

“There’s a sports journalist, and a band called Bob Evans who were around before I started.

“There’s a Canadian guitarist named Bob Evans. His records are mixed up with mine on iTunes. It’s kind of annoying actually!

“My fault though. I should have chosen a better name.”

Was compiling a set like this necessarily a chance to get away from the “contemporary artist” tag? (Evans won a best contemporary album ARIA for Suburban Songbook)

“No. I don’t really care about that tag. People can call it whatever they like, use whatever language they want that helps them articulate themselves. It doesn’t make any difference to me.

“People who are really into music don’t care what something is called, just what it sounds like.

“The main reason I wanted to do this compilation was because I’ve made five albums and the timing felt right.

“Things are going to change a bit after this for me so I wanted to wrap the past up in a neat little bow before I set sail on my next adventure.”

Does a retro collection of tracks allow you to look at experimenting with the format of the upcoming live shows?

“Yes! I’m touring with a violinist and a pianist. I’ve never done it before but hopefully, it will highlight the songs nicely.

“All my Bob Evans stuff has always come with a lot of piano and strings. I love adding that stuff in the studio, more than guitars and vocals cos that’s kind of not as exciting for me as a musician.

“So it will be cool to play these songs with the piano and string parts highlighted, rather than the drums and bass and guitars.”

What’s something that someone who follows Bob Evans would be surprised to hear about Bob or Kevin?

“I could run a mile in four and a half minutes when I was 16 years old.”

Full Circle is slated for release October 5 with his tour kicking off on October 19 in Brisbane. For more information and to get tickets, head here.

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