From an outsider’s perspective, BOB EVANS appears a busy man, seemingly doing the work of two men, one Bob, the other Kevin Mitchell. You will find the man recording and touring as Bob, finding time for national tours with his noisy high-school band, Jebediah as Kev, family time with a wife and two kids in Surf Coast suburbia, and now even producing his own podcast. Between a national tour promoting his latest album, Car Boot Sale, a 10-track record he, as well as others, are calling some of his best work to date and having dropped into Newcastle to play the sold-out Elsewhere rooftop concert last weekend, Bob caught up with AMELIA PARROTT about his latest creative endeavours.
“I wouldn’t describe myself as busy,” Bob confesses with a laugh down the phone line. Actually sometimes I feel like I’m not working hard enough.”
But find out a bit about what Bob’s been up to lately and it’s hard to believe him. On completing Car Boot Sale, he shared with fans on Facebook how the recording process had taken him beyond his God-given abilities, but boy, aren’t the results worth it?
“Not only did the record turn out sounding how I had envisaged it, but it sounds better. And that doesn’t happen very often. I know from a reader’s point of view it might come across as odd but in my experience, as an artist, you don’t always get that result a lot of the time. You might finish something off and go, ‘well, that doesn’t sound like I thought it would,’ or ‘maybe I don’t really like this anymore’. There’s so many things that can get in the way of the vision, so to speak. I had a pretty good, clear idea about the kind of record I wanted to make and the kind of direct, simple and organic record that I want to make and I was able to stick by that and not lose my way. I came out feeling really confident that I could stand by every song, every lyric. There weren’t any moments of lyrical laziness where I felt like I was just throwing away lines. Just a feeling that I’ve done the best job I could possibly do here.”
Bob’s goal to create something “direct, simple and organic” is evident from track one, of Car Boot Sale, ‘Don’t Give Up On Yourself’, a piano-driven love song with a straightforward refrain. “Don’t give up on yourself / ‘cause you’re the reason I get out of bed,” is no-fuss but tugs hard on your heartstrings. This unadorned approach continues on the beautiful, fingerpicky ‘Race to the Bottom’ – here, there’s just the winning combination of guitar, strings and harmony. And the lyricism is especially straight-shooting on ‘Ron Sexsmith’, an ode to one of Bob’s musical heroes, with lines like, “I am bored of trying to catch on to some pseudo-hipster’s wavelength.” All of this delivered with the unmistakable analogue-like richness that has come to define the Bob Evans sound.
“At home when I record my album demos, the equipment that I use hasn’t really changed with the times. I never got ProTools or anything like that, I’ve just gotten a better and more sophisticated version of my old four-track tape machine to the point where today I have this 24-channel digital tracking work station thing that’s really just a glorified four-track. There’s a certain sort of sonic texture or sonic aesthetic that really appeals to me about records from the ’60s and ’70s and when I’m inhabiting my Bob Evans personality it gives me an opportunity to indulge in some of those specific things I love, which all come out of that era. With this record in particular, I wanted to get back to that. There’s a simplicity about the production then in that it’s not over-produced or over-tracked, it’s just about recording a few parts but making them sound absolutely exquisite. Whereas, what I do in Jebediah is completely different and I love that! Jebediah will always be the band I got together with my mates when I was a teenager where we make a heap of noise and not take ourselves too seriously, and Jebediah and Bob Evans satisfy two different but very much equal parts of my creative personality.”
Back in May, Bob started producing his own podcast, the aptly named Good Evans, It’s a Bobcast. Released fortnightly, each episode sees Bob sit down was a friend or celebrity – past guests include Car Boot Sale producer Tony Buchen, comedian Tom Ballard, and Lindsay ‘The Doctor’ McDougall – for a wide-reaching hour-long chat about life and of course, music.
“This sort of just started as an experiment that I‘d record in my garage. I’ve always been interested in things outside of music, particularly writing and I’ve always had an interest in the media so I started listening to Wil Anderson and Charlie Clausen’s Podcast, TOPOF, and that gave me a blueprint for what I wanted to do because I really enjoyed how they just allowed the conversation to unfold. I knew I didn’t want to do interviews because they can be quite clinical and I’ve spent 20 years being interviewed and being on the other side of that wasn’t something I found appealing. We’ve only done a few episodes but we’ve already covered all sorts of ground and it’s fun for me and really a good excuse to have adult conversations because I spend so much time with my kids now! It may sound strange but I just like to keep my mind ticking over so I don’t end up falling into some kind of middle-aged parent suburban rut!”
All jokes aside though, it’s clear there’s no risk of Bob falling off the horse just yet. With the album getting rave reviews, Jebediah playing alongside Something For Kate, You Am I and Spiderbait on a national Day on the Green tour this November, and the man himself commenting that he’s feeling more content creatively than he ever has been, there’ll still be quite a bit to keep Bob Evans busy for the next little while at least.