By ARNE SJOSTEDT
With an elegance and a charm that befits only the most worthy of artists, Bob Evans’ Tomorrowland is a journey beyond that every purveyor of quality music should take. Recorded live in Melbourne’s Soundpark studios, the right stuff turned up for one of the greatest sounding pieces of recording to have come out of the Rock City speakers in some months.
Talking about his masterwork, and speaking easy about the way he and his band made this his sixth studio album as a solo artist, the Jebediah frontman held his breath and dove into some positive tales that speak to just how he established the environment to imprint gold into our audio airwaves.
Read on. But first, have a listen to Concrete Heart - one of the album’s highlights:
It's awesome to talk to you. I guess I should start off by saying I've been listening to your album and really enjoying the tracks. You've done a beautiful piece of work.
Where did you record it?
It was recorded at a little studio in Northcote in Melbourne, Soundpark.
I worked with Steven Schram. I've known him a little while. He has been recording all of Paul Kelly's records for about the last, I don't know, quite a few years now.
So because Paul's been quite prolific recently, putting out records quite often and they just go into the studio and Steve records, they set up live in the studio and they bang out the songs.
That's how I wanted to make this record. So that's why I reached out to Steve. So we booked the same studio. I knew going into it that Steve's done this so many times before. And I think we kind of hit the ground running. You know?
It’s one of the reasons, I guess, why it worked. And all the guys in the band were all great players and were totally able to do what they needed to do.
So, you were all playing together live?
We tracked all the band stuff together, live. And then I just re-did my vocals. I don't really keep any of my scratch vocals. I did all my vocals the following week. But yeah, we did 11 songs in six days. Then we did another six days of just layering other stuff over the top of what we did.
The record has a really familiar sound
It's how every record used to be made, you know. But very few are made these days and I've never done it. The first time I ever went to a studio to make a record was with Jebediah.
But even then, we still went in and recorded all the drums for every song first and then all the bass for every song, and then all the rhythm guitars. It was just pieced together bit by bit, over a month. And that was 20 odd years ago.
So it was just really, really fun to go in and record all those instruments, all at once.
One sound that really stands out is a real Go-Betweens vibe. Would you say you are a fan?
Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I think there's a lot of stuff on this record that definitely kind of calls on stuff like Go-Betweens and The Church and the Triffids. You know, it was a real golden period there, late 80's, very early 90's, Australian kind of jangly pop.
During that time, I was just a kid. I was like not even a teenager in the late 80's. So I was still listening to just whatever was on the charts. I missed a lot of that stuff when it happened.
So it's only really much later in my life that I've gone back and discovered those bands.
What would be your favourite song on the record?
It changes all the time. I mean, I really love Born Yesterday. That was why it was the first song that we put out, because even the demo, as soon as I demo'd that at home, I loved it and I've loved it ever since. I just love every part of it.
But at the moment I'm quite fond of a song called Bad Mood. So yeah, I mean you know, look it changes all the time.
Actually, that tracking session happened just before COVID hit, the first two weeks of March , so I’ve been living with these songs for a long time, and I still really enjoy listening to them.
I think, again, because of the way that we recorded it, when I hear it, I don't have the same kind of fatigue that I would normally have. I think because the energy that the band brings to them, I can listen to it and it sounds like I'm listening to a band. Not just me, you know.
Yeah, it's a really full, luscious sound you captured. There’s obviously something very vintage about what's coming out.
I wanted the record to sound like it could have been made in any decade. I mean, obviously I've always had a strong kind of 60's kind of influence. But it could be 70's. There's the 80's influences in there that I've never played with before.
You know, this was made in 2021. Or came out in 2021, I thought it was like a 70's record or something. I've actually had comments from when Born Yesterday was on the radio. It was getting played by Triple M, who obviously play a lot of classic rock from the 80's. And somebody said they thought it was a song that they'd missed from the 80’s. So that's exactly the kind of stuff that I like to hear. Because that's kind of what I've been trying to create.
It interests me that you were hanging out in Melbourne when you made the album. Because it’s one place where you can really feel that clash of time and place.
Look, I’ve been living…I don't live in Melbourne anymore. But I lived in Melbourne after I moved from Perth in 2008.
There's still a real 90's kind of feeling that's never kind of left, you know. I don't know exactly whether it's just the way people dress. Or even just the look of the city. You know, it's a bit gritty and yeah, there's just a substance to the culture that's going on in Melbourne that you don't really get anywhere else.