Interview: An Afternoon With Bob Evans

Bob Evans
Image Courtesy of Bob Evans

Coming up to his long-awaited tour, Janine Estoesta had the opportunity to have a leisurely chat with Kevin Mitchell, AKA Bob Evans, on fragments about his music, upcoming tours and his great abhorrence of cheese Twisties.

Having just released the new film clip for his single “Go” be sure to catch Bob Evans, one of Australia’s finest on his national Familiar Stranger tour.

Janine Estoesta: Thanks for taking the time to talk today! So, Moomba this weekend – fairly classic Melbourne event, are you excited to be a part of it?

Kevin Mitchell: Being a newcomer to Melbourne, I’ve only lived here a couple a few years, so I’ve never been to Moomba before. I know from all my Melbourne friends, they all – when you mention Moomba, it conjures up a lot of childhood memories, that kind of thing. So, yeah, it should be fun.

JE: Absolutely. So, your upcoming national tour, you are playing a few iconic venues, is there a place or venue in particular that you are looking forward to playing?

KM: Yeah, well there’s a venue up in Cairns, it’s called The Tanks Art Centre. It’s an old – it’s just a great big round cement tank that was used during World War II, to store – well I don’t know it was used to store, maybe oil or petrol or fuel or something. [And] Now, they’ve converted it into this art space, this venue and it’s completely unique, it’s always really fun to visit and you know, because it’s up in Cairns too, it’s way up in North Queensland in the tropics. It’s just a very unique place, so that one definitely springs to mind and then there’s – I’ll be playing a lot of old favourites, there’s The Corner [Hotel] in Melbourne. I’ve played that place so many times, you know, over fifteen years [and] there’s a real familiarity with that place that I like.

JE: The Tanks Art Centre sounds amazing – how is the sound when you play there?

KM: Yeah! Surprisingly good [laughs], surprisingly good. It’s a really cool place.

JE: Brilliant. Now, in terms of Jebediah, Basement Birds and then yourself as Bob Evans, a solo musician, was there a different kind of sound you were trying to channel with the three different collectives?

KM: Yeah, oh yeah! Definitely. Basement Birds, you know we were just trying to make a rootsy sounding kind of folk record, you know, making four part harmonies. With Jebediah’s last record we were, you know, we had so many years between records we were really trying to recreate ourselves a bit. Do a really adventurous, for us anyway, studio album that wasn’t about trying to capture our live sound. With this Bob Evans record, I was really just trying to start all over again. You know, sort of – I just felt after the last Bob record I sort of closed. It got to the end of the chapter, I really just wanted to start again, without any sort of miming any of that acoustic, alt country, folk stuff that I’d done before. I wanted to make it sound like a progressive sort of pop record. It wasn’t driven by acoustic guitars; it was driven by the rhythm section and used a lot more synthetic sound.

JE: Rolling into that, in terms of Good night, Bull Creek! because of Suburban Kid and Suburban Songbook and being kind of a trilogy, is that the kind of end to that particular trilogy?

KM: Oh, definitely yeah. I knew, as soon as I finished Good night, Bull Creek! that that was the end of that. Yeah, I mean I guess I kind of like the idea of those records being tied together and being their own little thing, you know? I mean, I almost toyed – for a little while there I toyed with the idea of not making any more records as Bob Evans, so that those three records were the only Bob Evans records that were ever going to be made. Start again with a new name and everything, but I was quickly talked out of that [laughs].

JE: Absolutely! That would have been really interesting though, so if you were ever going to that collective or that pseudonym, would you have drastically changed the sound or the style?

KM: Oh, yeah! Well, I mean, that was the idea and that’s what I tried to do with this record.

JE: And, in terms of going back to Perth, how’s the dynamic playing in your home town? Is it a bit more vibrant? I assume you would be very well received when you go back home.

KM: Yeah, I guess Perth – it’s quite different to all the other cities in Australia, it’s a lot more – they’re very parochial in Perth, I think it’s because of the isolation. Perth people champion their own, I think more so than cities in other states. Which is really great but, they also – playing shows in Perth can also be – [sighs]. Sometimes has the most pressure attached because I’ve got family and friends that are there, I don’t know, I know more people in the crowd. Sometimes that can be a bit unnerving when going onstage. I think my favourite type of gig is a gig where I don’t know a single person in the room, you know? And, that might sound strange, if someone hearing that that doesn’t perform would probably assume the more familiar you are with people in the room, the easier it might be – you’ll actually find it’s the opposite. I find it easier to perform to a room full of complete strangers, rather than a room full of people I know.

JE: Absolutely, that’s brilliant. And lastly, any kind of fun quirks or anything we should know about Kevin Mitchell? Any irrational fears? What’s your take on milkshakes, or any secret you have from your childhood?

KM: I can’t eat cheese Twisties, because of my first experience with vomiting was after eating cheese Twisties when I was about four or five. Weird thing is that I, I’m sure that I didn’t vomit because of the cheese Twisties. I think what would have happened is that I ate a pack of cheese Twisties and then just probably ran around and, you know, spewed up regardless of what I’d eaten. But, I’ve always attached that first experience of vomiting with cheese Twisties and ever since – the whole time I was growing up I could never eat them and I’ve never been able to since. As an adult, it doesn’t really matter, cheese Twisties – not a big deal, doesn’t matter. But, as a kid, it was quite noticeable to my friends, so when I would say ‘no’ to cheese Twisties, because as a kid, who says ‘no’ to cheese Twisties, right? So, it goes to shows how powerful an initial experience is of something, positive or negative, just how powerful that can be. Because, it stays with you and for the rest of your life you attach, you keep going back there and keep attaching the subject of that first experience to that feeling.

JE: Wow. Cheese Twisties – so can you eat them now?

KM: No, can’t eat them now. But, I don’t miss them now, I don’t care about it anymore, because you know, I’m thirty-five years old I shouldn’t be interested in any cheese Twisties anyway [laughs].

JE: So, I know Perth or Western Australia as a whole is quite beautiful, do you have any of those secret hiding spots that you kind of just like to run away to or just have some time away?

KM: Oh, geez. Not really, I think – I guess there’s a lot of places that are out of the city and stuff. You gotta go down South to get away from things a bit over there. But, really when you go to Perth, you’re already so fucking far away from everything, you don’t really need to get any further away, right [laughs]? Like, it’s the most isolated city in the world. Nah, I think just being in Perth, you’re away from everything.

JE: Yeah, definitely. Now lastly, what’s your take on strawberry milkshakes?

KM: On strawberry milkshakes? [laughs] I’m quite fond of them. I’m more of a chocolate milkshake guy myself though.

For those of you who are in Melbourne this weekend, be sure to wander down to Moomba Festival this weekend – Bob Evans on Monday 11th of March at 1pm. The full list of dates for Bob Evans’ upcoming tour are below:

Thursday 11th April – Woombye Pub, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Friday 12th April – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns, QLD
Saturday 13th April – The Zoo, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 19th April – Discovery, Darwin, NT
Wednesday 24th April – Hotel New York, Launceston, TAS
Friday 26th April – Republic Bar, Hobart, TAS
Saturday 27th April – Fowlers, Adelaide, SA
Thursday 2nd May – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA
Friday 3rd May – The Bakery, Perth, WA
Saturday 4th May – Prince of Wales, Bunbury, WA
Thursday 9th May – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 10th May – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 11th May – Zierholz @ UC, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 12th May – Heritage Hotel, Wollongong, NSW
Thursday 16th May – Yarra Hotel Geelong, VIC
Friday 17th May – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 18th May – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan, VIC

Kevin Mitchell (Bob Evans) Guest Hosting Roots ‘n’ All

Bob Evans
Image Courtesy of triple j

Australia’s favourite grunge-go-gone-folk Kevin Mitchell (Jebidiah, Bob Evans, Basement Birds) will be taking over triple j’s Roots ‘n’ All program tonight while regular host Sarah Howells takes a much needed break. You can expect to hear an eclectic mix of Mitchell’s favourite folk, roots, blues and reggae tracks. Listen to triple j from 10pm tonight or stream the show on the Roots ‘n’ All web site for a week from tomorrow.

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