(Left to Right: Joe Pitter - Bass; Dan Chandler - Vocals; V - Lead Guitar; Parker Lauzon - Guitar)
You run a certain level of risk when naming the lead single to your fourth album, "This Time It's Different". Whether a metaphor in reference to the album, the direction the band is going, or no correlation at all, fans of Alternative Rock band Evans|Blue are expecting just that. Something different. Something special. And indeed things are different this time around in the wake of the release of the band's latest effort, 'Graveyard Of Empires' and subsequent tour which comes to Pop's Nightclub & Concert Venue on Friday, August 17th.
Evans Blue’s fourth album with long-time producer Trevor Kustiak, Graveyard Of Empires, was released April 17th on Sounds+Sights. With a full self-titled third album now under lead singer Dan Chandler's belt, the band was destined for further success on their fourth LP. However, the group had to overcome new challenges on this record when they parted ways early on in the process with drummer Howard "H-Bomb" Davis in November 2011. Yet, with big challenges comes bigger reward, and the band has united together stronger than ever to produce their best album to date in my opinion with their latest effort, Graveyard Of Empires.
Graveyard Of Empires is a pedal to the floor dragster race of thundering aggressive rock that flourishes this time around with heavier guitar riffs and deeper meaningful lyrics. The result is a genuine and well-rounded honest album fans can relate to and rock out to at the same time. With the last self-titled Evans Blue record, most of the songs were written before lead vocalist Dan Chandler even met any of the other members of the band in person. Since then, with strong relationships formed and years of touring behind them, the band has grown immensely together with the chemistry amongst each member, the trust they have developed with eachother, and the comfort level between each individual in the band. And clearly it shows on a more polished album which was written in a collaborative effort alongside Chandler's emotional heartfelt lyrics. The album seems to come from a dark place, but shines brightly overall in the end. The progression of the band comes through in each one of the twelve songs on the album which includes a few unexpected twists like the eerily haunting all instrumental title track comprised entirely of piano and a oneman,14-piece string orchestra. The album really is strong front to back, but standouts for me obviously includes lead single, "This Time It's Different", as well as the captivating fan-favorite dark rock ballad "Warrior", closer hit "Halo", and a trio of heavy hitters in "Thank You", "Beyond The Stars", and "Destroy The Obvious".
I recently had a chance to catch up with St. Louis hometown front man Dan Chandler to chat about their current Graveyard of Empires tour, the album, the band, and their upcoming headline show at Pop's.
How’s the tour going?
DC — It’s going good. We’re in Baltimore right now. We had a day off yesterday after six in a row so it was pretty much needed. We ended up having a day off when there was actually shit to do. We were at Hampton Beach, so we were actually at a beach for once in our lives instead of a day off in a parking lot somewhere. It was pretty nice.
Your lead single to this album ‘Graveyard of Empires’ is titled, “This Time It’s Different”. Do you feel that is a metaphor for where your band is going? What do you feel is different from your point of view on this album and this tour besides the fact you lost one member?
DC — Yeah, I think everything is awesome. As far as “This Time It’s Different” goes, the song in general, that’s got something to do with, you know, doing your own thing and not trying to do what you think you’re supposed to do. I don’t think there is any rule, I think everybody should just be themselves. And yeah, there is a hidden meaning there for me as well. I do think that this record has a lot of heart, a lot of soul, and it’s my baby right now. I think going through a singer change on the last record, having to go through all of that. People shocked, not sure how to feel about that. And me trying to fit in a little bit in the beginning, but now it’s kind of like, I really don’t care. I just want to play music, have fun, and write stuff that I am proud of and hopefully people like it. But we wrote this record for ourselves, and I mean that’s the one way I learned to think of it, is if I do it like that.
Has there been an official announcement on who will replace your drummer H-Bomb in the band? Who is filling in on tour?
DC — Yeah, we got a guy. Dusty Saxton, a killer drummer, awesome as shit for the band. But, I don’t think we have really talked much about a permanent replacement right now. I think it’s just going to be one of those things that hopefully, naturally finds its way to that. But, we’re not opposed to not having, you know, that guy. If it doesn’t feel right, then there is really no point in doing it. We just want to play it by ear and see how it goes. Have some guys come out with us and play.
How has the fan reaction been for the new album on tour?
DC — It’s been awesome man. We get a lot of love from Octane (Sirius). So that helps a lot no matter where we go. But, it’s really cool. We’ve been playing the new record from front to back. And then we’re coming back out and we play another act which is off the last album, and a couple songs off the album before that. It’s very surprising though to see how many people actually know the words to this new record, front to back. It’s crazy. So, it’s been going really good.
Do you get more nervous or excited to come back home to Saint Louis when touring?
DC — Obviously being in a local band forever, home is pretty much where I played all the time, so I was used to it. Coming back there now is always awesome because you get to play in front of your friends and family, and they’re all there, which they are never there on the road usually. It’s really cool to come back, man. It seems like every time we do play there though it’s towards the end of the tour, it’s not the last day, but it’s almost like a last show hurrah, it’s my hometown, so it is really cool to do it that way. But, there are some nerves to it too. It’s different because you play in front of people that you see all the time and they know you, but there is a little part of a different persona when you get on stage, and you got to still live or see that through even though these people maybe know me in a different way, you know. That’s the only thing really different playing for the hometown crowd.
The album seems like it has a lot of deep meaning and some cool lyrics. Where did the inspiration for this album come from when writing it?
DC — Just kind of looked back on the past and touched on some big things that happened in life. Whether it was questioning stuff or not being ok with what had happened and trying to find answers. It’s actually been very therapeutic to write this record and really dig in deep as I did. Put it all out there per say. Like I said before, I wanted to make an honest record that I would be proud of forever. Because I have to get up there and sing these songs for years to come hopefully, and I don’t want it to come to a point where it’s like, man, why did I write that song, you know. I want to make sure that everything has meaning behind it.
I know you asked for a lot of feedback from the fans about their favorite songs. Do you have any favorite songs to play live from this album?
DC — Yeah. Well, we start with “This Time It’s Different” every night and that one gets you pumped up immediately so I love playing that one. But, “Thank You” would probably be one of my favorite live tracks. The way it comes in, it just hits so hard, it’s a lot of energy, it’s intense. “Thank You” is definitely my jam right now.
Is there anything besides the tour that you are looking forward to most the rest of this year in 2012?
DC — I haven’t thought too much past that right now. We’re out on this run and we’ll be home for a couple weeks in September. And then we head back out at the end of September actually, and we’re going to hit the West Coast. My goal is to get in front of as many people as we possibly can and get this new record blowing up however possible. I think our live show has come a long way now, and I think people need to come out and see it. I think if they do, they’ll come back the next time. So we just need to keep building, keep pushing.
Last time we spoke you were planning on starting a new clothing line. Are you still pursuing that?
DC — It’s always in the back of my mind, but that is about as far as it is right now. I know it’s a serious task, but I would like to maybe team up with somebody. I have met a lot of cool clothing companies through playing and wearing people’s clothes. It would be really cool to maybe just drop a line underneath somebody else who is more established, and maybe that would be my foot in the door for that. But as far as right now goes, I am just focusing on this for now, and then if I have a little more down time, maybe I’ll get going with that.
I want to thank Dan for taking the time to talk with me. Evans Blue's tour bus rolls through town on Friday, August 17th at Pop's Nightclub and Concert venue. “I’m more excited than I’ve ever been, and I know the guys are with me on that,” Chandler asserts. This is a band that has come a long way through a tough string of challenges, and every experience has made them stronger. Whoever said “rock is dead” is about to get his ass kicked. I would definitely suggest checking out this show. Details can be found below. At the very least, you should give the new album a listen. I think you rockers out there will definitely enjoy it!
Friday, August 17th @ 7:00pm
w/ State Your Cause, Arythma & Between The Rivers
$10.57 advance, $11 day of show, $2 minor surcharge
Tickets on sale 6/15 @10am through TicketMaster or
service charge free at Pop's Box Office 24/7.
Thanks, I'll see you out there on the road!