Before playing his first show of the lockdown at Yarmouth Drive-In, Evan Dando of The Lemonheads talked with QRO. In the conversation, Dando discussed the upcoming August 30th show on Cape Cod, life on Martha’s Vineyard, last year’s covers record Varshons 2 (QRO review) and prior covers record Varshons (QRO review), not getting his “shit together” for a new album, his hair, and more…
QRO: How are you holding up, with everything that is going on?
Evan Dando: I mean, pretty good. We all got our moments in these times. You know, it’s a tough one.
It’s been rough – our tours got cancelled. I was counting on those. I like to tour. So, it’s just good to be doing a gig again this soon. I didn’t think we’d be up & running again so soon. In a weird way – playing to people in their cars.
But, it’s better than nothing.
QRO: Are you in Martha’s Vineyard?
ED: Yeah, that’s where I live.
QRO: How are things at Martha’s Vineyard?
ED: Oh, actually things are pretty mellow. I was worried, cause disease tends to race through here – like, when someone gets the flu, everyone gets it. But everyone’s been really careful. There’s only been like twenty-some odd cases here, so it’s good.
QRO: Are there no tourists?
ED: There are some, actually. Some of them came. There are quite a few.
QRO: I guess Massachusetts has been handling it pretty well, for America.
ED: They’ve been pretty smart. They’ve been okay, on the level, on the whole.
QRO: Will this Yarmouth Drive-In show be your first show of the lockdown?
ED: Sure, yeah. I was touring almost up until March. This is definitely the first show since the COVID thing.
QRO: And I suppose it’ll also be your first drive-in show ever?…
ED: Yeah, I’ve never done a show like this.
A friend of mine went to one, and said it was fun. Definitely the first drive-in show, at Yarmouth.
QRO: Do you know how the set-up is going to be?
ED: I think people mix it in their car, something like that.
I was skeptical at first, but it sounds like they’ve got it dialed in – no pun intended – I think, pretty well.
QRO: They’ve got a bunch of shows lined-up there.
ED: Right, yeah. It’s a testing ground.
QRO: Do you know if your set-up on stage is the same?
ED: I believe it’s the same, I think. From our angle, it’ll be the same thing.
It’s just good to be doing a gig again this soon. I didn’t think we’d be up & running again so soon.
QRO: At least it’s relatively close to home for you.
ED: Really close, yeah.
QRO: Have you performed on Cape Cod before?
ED: Yeah, there’s a place in Wellfleet, called The Beachcomber. We’ve played there a couple times.
QRO: And will it be with your whole band?
QRO: Are they all doing okay?
ED: Yeah, they’re all good.
The bass player in the band [Farley Glavin] lives here anyway, so we’ve been jamming anyway.
My drummer [Lee Falco] lives in New York State. We’re gonna get him out here maybe a week before. We have a place to practice here.
Any point of brightness, any kinda gig that is going on, is kinda exciting. It’s a basic need of people, to see live music, in some capacity.
QRO: When I heard about your show, I was bummed that I couldn’t make it out there…
ED: That’s too bad. It’s such a hassle traveling right now. It’s wild – it’s just like a science fiction movie. Yuck…
Maybe, one day, we’ll get a vaccine or something.
QRO: You can’t plan ahead, either…
ED: Not yet, right?
And I’m thinking, when the vaccine gets in, ‘Oh no, it’ll mutate!’ My mind goes in bad directions…
Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield playing Teenage Fanclub’s “Cells” live at Mercury Lounge in New York, NY on September 30th, 2010:
See also them playing “It’s About Time”.
QRO: How was making last year’s Varshons 2?
ED: That was really fun. That was how I met my drummer, Lee Falco.
We did it up near Woodstock, at a place called Old Souls Studios. Kenny Siegal [owns it].
So, we went up and did it up there. It was just an opportunity to make something to tour on, cause we didn’t have all the songs together for a real record. It was really fun; it came out good.
Just a chance to show some of my favorite songs.
QRO: Why did you decide to do another covers record?
ED: I mean, I wasn’t ready for a real new record. That was the only reason, really. I wanted to do something, so there you go.
QRO: How do you go about picking songs to cover?
ED: The one before, it was Gibby [Haynes, producer (also Butthole Surfers)], he picked some of them, and I picked some of them. But this one, I pretty much picked them all.
I mean, there’s no real criteria. Some of it’s just the luck of the draw. Like, which one am I thinking of then.
Songs that I think I want to bring to people’s attention, you know? Bring attention to the original, basically, and maybe do some okay spin on it.
But songs I want people to hear, I think, maybe haven’t yet heard. Obscure old songs that I think are great.
QRO: I love “Things” from Paul Westerberg’s first solo album, 14 Songs. I feel like that record isn’t as remembered, just because it’s not [Westerberg’s prior band] The Replacements.
ED: Yeah. Let’s face it, they’re not all as good as that song, but that’s an amazing song. I love it.
QRO: Did you ever think about covering Ben Lee’s “I Wish I Was Him”, which is about you?
ED: I’ve done it live, you know. I guess doing it in the studio, we’ve never done that. That’s a bit too much, I think. I’ve thought about it, though.
Kathleen Hanna did it; Bikini Kill did it.
It’s sort of like another song of mine called “Confetti”, same chords.
The Lemonheads playing “Confetti” live at Piano’s in New York, NY on October 21st, 2009:
See also them playing “My Drug Buddy”.
QRO: And why have you only done Varshons & Varshons 2 in the last decade-plus, no records of original material?
ED: I don’t know. I’ve been a little bit dry. For some reason, I have like a block. I just haven’t gotten my shit together, really, to do it. I’ve been slow-moving.
But, I want to do a real record this fall.
QRO: There is going to be a deluxe edition of Lovey out in October for Record Store Day…
ED: Yeah, that’s exciting.
The Lemonheads playing “Frank Mills” live at Bowery Ballroom in New York, NY on March 30th, 2008:
QRO: During lockdown, a lot of artists are doing livestreams, or releasing previously recorded material. Have you thought about doing anything like that?
ED: Yeah, I’d love to do something like that. I haven’t arranged it yet, but I want to do something like that. It’s a great opportunity to do something like that.
QRO: If your bassist lives right by you…
ED: Right up the street, yeah. We can definitely do something like that. I want to.
I just haven’t the right tool to do it with. I’m not too user-savvy…
QRO: Have you been writing/making music during all of this?
ED: Yeah, I have been. I find myself playing even more than usual, because there’s nothing else to do… [laughs]
Definitely trying to keep things positive, try to do something. I have been, but I don’t really have a good recording thing in my house, so I gotta get that set up.
I find myself playing even more than usual, because there’s nothing else to do…
QRO: During this time, have you picked up and/or accelerated any bad habits? Like I went a long time without shaving…
ED: I’d say so. For a while there, it was like just, ‘Oh, what the fuck…’ I’ve tried since then.
I think a lot of people, at the beginning of it – people that stayed at home all day, slept all day. It lends itself to that kind of lifestyle.
But we’ve all got to try to do those things, I guess.
QRO: Has your hair gotten even longer?…
ED: No. It doesn’t grow that much. I don’t cut it that much.
It’s just normal length. Well, normal for me, so pretty long…
Featuring three massive high definition LED screens and a stage, the Yarmouth Drive-in on Cape Cod has been designed to seamlessly present first-run and legacy family movies, alongside live comedy and music and the return of major league sports including Boston’s own Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins. The state-of-the-art screens are more than 40-feet wide and can be viewed even during daylight hours. Operating on the site of the Old Yarmouth Drive-In, the new site is one of the largest entertainment experiences operating in New England during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Lemonheads playing “It’s a Shame About Ray” live at Piano’s in New York, NY on October 21st, 2009:
See also them playing “Rudderless”.