We look back at nearly three decades of Even history with acclaimed frontman Ash Naylor.
On Thursday September 26, 2019 Australia’s adored indie pop-rock institution Even kicked off their 25th anniversary celebrations with a show at Howler, with none other than Melbourne’s indie-rock dynamo Laura Imbruglia and Western Australia’s eminent power-pop trio Rinehearts joining the party. In this special feature, Even’s acclaimed singer-songwriter/guitarist Ash Naylor took us on a trip down memory lane, using some photos from the band’s illustrious past to talk about where the band was at that point in time.
1995 – Early Even rooftop shoot
This is one of Even’s first publicity shots taken by Maikka Trupp in April 1995, around the time of our first EP In Stereo. We had been playing gigs for about a year at this point and at the risk of sounding smug, we had five independent record labels vying to court us. We signed with Rubber Records and went on to deliver three albums and three EPs on the label.
The location of this photo is the rooftop of the flat Matt (Cotter) and I shared in Brunswick between 1993 and 1998. The bulk of the Even songs from In Stereo up to One Side Not were written in this flat. I do recall rehearsing ‘Don’t Wait’ in Wally’s (Kempton) lounge room in Richmond around this time too. His neighbour at the time was Julian Matthews from The Stems, which I thought was unreal. I learned some time later on, Jules and his wife Pippa used to hear us practising and commented favourably.
This roof is documented in the lyrics of Superglue whereby the author, forecasting the need to act drastically to curb his neuroses might end up… “throwing all my guitars off the roof”. It was a great time, the cost of living was dirt-cheap, gigs were coming thick and fast and we were off and running.
1996 – Albert Park
Another publicity shot taken by Maikka Trupp in 1996. I distinctly recall Matt was wearing a beanie that day, which may account for his well-groomed noggin. After two EPs and healthy triple j airplay, we were now on the cusp of releasing our debut album, Less Is More. I cringed when I realised the album’s title was also that of a self-help book I saw one day in Readings.
The album cover photo of the worker’s hands holding a bunch of berries was ripped, literally, from the pages of an old National Geographic magazine and the ‘even’ font and cover design were chosen specifically to replicate the artwork on Jeff Beck’s Truth album.
Releasing an album of original material was, and still is, a great honour. Having someone pay for all the studio bills was a thrill I hadn’t experienced up until this point in time. Less Is More was released to a very warm reception and despite not winning an ARIA in 1996 (Savage Garden took the chocolates that night) this album gave us a foot in the door. Through the connection with the great Nick Launay, who mixed the album with our friend and engineer Greg Wales, we were signed by Arista Records in the UK to the ‘One World’ label.
1999 – CBGB in New York
Here we are at famous New York club CBGB in 1999. It may have been a weeknight gig, probably a small crowd but what did we care? We were playing at CBGB in the Bowery! The history of this legendary venue, sadly no longer, is well documented in the annals of punk rock history. Playing overseas gigs presents a different sensation to that of a hometown show. Domestic concerns can be put to one side in the pursuit of international rock glory and one can momentarily live out some kind of rock fantasy, regardless of crowd numbers, record sales or the size of the Apra cheque.
On this occasion, I’m playing an Epiphone Casino guitar, which I flippantly named ‘my ticket out of the gutter’ upon the time of purchase in 1996. It has served me well, and was used to write the songs on our 1998 album Come Again, a song from which we may very well be playing at the time this photograph was taken. From 1997 to 2015, Even has travelled overseas on numerous occasions playing our pop’n’roll music, making friends, recording and mixing albums, buying records and taking photos. This photo actually features in the new film clip for our latest single ‘Mark the Days’, made by our artist in residence Matthew Cotter.
1999 – Wally on a horse in Auch, France
In the heady days of the late ‘90s, Even was on what you might call, a bit of a roll. This photo finds our erstwhile bass guitarist and vocalist Wally enjoying some hard-earned leisure time at a farmlet in the town of Auch on the eve of a two-week tour of France. The accommodation was rustic but charming, we played soccer on the lawn, ate baguettes with mayonnaise and Camembert and drank affordable French wine. Each night of the tour the venues became increasingly less rustic but fun was had at every turn and we were treated like royal subjects as we marched toward Paris.
2017 – Satin Returns photoshoot
On this day in March 2017, we met up in a Melbourne recording studio for a photoshoot with Jay Hynes on the final day of tracking for the album. An eventful day, that morning I dislocated my middle finger (again) trying to catch my cap as it blew off whilst driving through a Melbourne gale. As my kids would say it, this was a pretty “un-co” thing to do. Nevertheless, I went into the studio that night and did all the guitar parts for the closing track, ‘Return to Stardust’.
In a serendipitous few hours, Tim Johnston, who engineered this session, and I set up an AC30, busted out the aforementioned Epiphone Casino, the Fender Strat and pressed record. The band had attempted this song on other occasions with mixed results. We finally nailed it after Wally suggested the guitar solo should be longer.
Words every guitar player loves to hear. The album was well received and sits comfortably with its counterparts in the Even catalogue, I reckon.