Q&A: Before Soundcheck, Evans The Death Discusses Pet Peeves, New Material And Ideal Tourmates
By Cynthia Orgel; Photo by Skye Portman on March 15, 2013
When one year fades, prompting the inevitable birth of the next one, people scramble to make two types of lists: New Year's resolutions and their Top 10 (give or take) albums of the year.
One record that slipped under way too many radars last year belongs to London noise pop quartet Evans The Death: brothers Dan Moss (guitar/vocals) and Olly Moss (guitar/bass), Katherine Whitaker (vocals/keys), and James Burkitt (drums).
Their edgy 12-track eponymous album is a rare half-hour: uncommon and unmatched in its ability to soundtrack all sorts of moods and thoughts, from self-deprecating ("Wet Blanket") to uncertainty/social anxiety ("Letter of Complaint"), to contempt towards younger generations ("A Small Child Punched Me In The Face"), to madly affectionate, evident in the entirety of track 10, "What's In Your Pocket?" (What’s in your pocket? You don’t think I care but I do). Though the record technically ends after 30 minutes, you'll have these songs stuck in your head for months. Trust me.
Last month in London, FILTER sat down with three-fourths of the group at CATCH, to talk songwriting and new material, The Kinks and their unexpected appearance in NME.
What’s a pet peeve of yours? I feel like you might have many, based on your songs. I do too, it’s cool.
Katherine: People who look at wine lists and then go, ‘I’ll have the house.’
Dan: Why? What’s wrong with that?
Katherine: It’s just, why look, if you’re obviously just gonna go with the cheapest one? Just say, ‘I’ll have the house wine.’
Dan: I’m really relaxed. Nothing annoys me ever.
Katherine: Him lying is a pet peeve.
Olly: When people walk into a room and they leave the door open.
How did the rest of the band meet, considering Olly and Dan are, you know, brothers?
Katherine: Olly joined the band about a year after we actually became a band. Me, Dan, and our old guitarist met at a gig—a Let’s Wrestle gig—which, as it goes, turned up in the NME the next week, and we’re all in the picture jumping on the stage, so that’s quite funny.
Dan: It’s the only time we’ve been in the NME.
Katherine: We just decided to make a band. That was five years ago now. Nearly half of the songs on the album, we’ve been doing for at least three years before we’d even recorded them.
Dan: We’ve only really recently got it together properly though, behaving like a proper band.
I love your self-titled album. How did you go about writing it?
Katherine: Well, originally it started out—like a couple of the songs, "Morning Voice," for example—I sent the lyrics to Dan, and then Dan came up with some music, and we worked that one out. Generally, though, the first album was pretty much all your stuff, wasn’t it? [to Dan]
Dan: Yeah, like 90 percent of it. Now, it’s very different. It’s like half-and-half, me and Olly, sharing the songs. We all come in with vague ideas into the rehearsal, and then work it out as a band, which is a lot more fun.
Olly, did you write the last track [“You’re Joking”]? Anything to say about it?
Olly: Yeah. Well, I find it funny how people have misinterpreted it. They thought it was about a divorce or something—a love slowly slipping away—it’s just about how my dad got pissed once, and that was it.
Katherine: I know that a lot of people who have listened to the album, like a couple of family members—it doesn’t really have any swearing on it, does it? They were happy about that—they all cried at that one.
You mentioned earlier that you’re playing new songs tonight. Does that mean there’s a new album coming out?
Dan: We’re going into the studio this month. We’ve been working hard. We don’t know when it’s going to be out. We don’t know much about it other than we like the songs.
In your songs, you mention food a lot. There’s pizza, sandwiches, apples…what’s your favorite food?
Olly: Kinder Egg Surprise.
I’ve only had the Buenos. [Kinder Surprises] have the toys inside, right?
Olly: Yeah, I eat the toys. They have a lot of fiber in them.
Katherine: I’m disgustingly horrible. I could eat absolute shit, or I could totally go the other end. Me and my friend went on a joke expensive day out, pretended we had far more money than we did, and went and had a really posh meal. I like posh meals, but I also like chicken wings.
Dan: Foie gras, when I can. Oysters.
Not sure if you’re serious or not…
Olly: Yesterday we were having fried chicken, and Dan said his last meal would be fried chicken if he was on death row.
Of all your favorite musicians, dead or alive, who would you choose to tour with if you could?
Katherine: [to Dan] You’d probably choose The Kinks, wouldn’t you?
Dan: Yeah, I like The Kinks.
Yeah, I guess they could be good enough to tour with.
Katherine: They could do. Although post-seventies…
Dan: No, I like all The Kinks stuff everyone hates. They did a musical called “Starmaker.”
Katherine: It’s so bad.
Olly: I don’t really know, to be honest. The Kinks would be good. We read Ray Davies’ autobiography. It sounds like they had a laugh. Dave Davies was a right little shit, wasn’t he? I heard stuff about him running around hotels wearing a suit of armor, swinging from chandeliers and chasing girls with swords.
Katherine: Anyone who could be like that on tour, I would like to go on tour with.
Dan: Oh, Crispin Glover! We’d go on tour with him.
In your song, “A Small Child Punched Me In The Face,” you say ‘I beseech you to remember contraception tonight.’ Do you have anything else you’d like to advise fans to do?
Dan: Be careful whilst crossing the road, be kind to your parents and others, be careful with money—
Katherine: Be Kind To Your Parents And Others was going to be the name of the album. We decided against it.
Dan: Well, I’ve got a little motto that I like to live by. It’s a little Latin phrase called “Carpe Diem.” It means, you know, just do it.
I think NIKE stole that one.
Katherine: Kids who aren’t impressed by things they should be are the worst. Teach your children to at least feign being impressed if someone’s trying hard. It’s just rude...Did you mean advice for people with children, or just advice to the world, by the way?
To your fans. Or it could be to the world, because your songs are for whoever hears them.
Katherine: Just buy all of our things. Three times the amount.
Dan: We advise you to support us all the way.
Katherine: Push through it! F