Evermore: This Record Bought Us Together
After Evermore stole the hearts of so many with their number one hit, 'Light Surrounding You', the last thing anyone expected from the New Zealand trio was a concept album. Three years on, that's exactly what they've delivered with their third album, 'Truth Of The World: Welcome To The Show'.
Sitting across from me inside the Warner offices, frontman Jon Hume has just received his first copy of their newly completed album. It's a record that has been 18 months in the making and represents the startling reinvention of Evermore.
"I have to admit that before we were making this album, there was a point where we were kind of wondering: 'Is this Evermore? What is Evermore? Do we even wanna keep doing this?' And I think it was really only the strength of the ideas and the album that got us all back on the same page and back to being excited about making music together," Hume explains. "I just don't think we could've done another record unless it was an idea that we were all really into, you know, and that we were willing to go the extra mile for, resolve our different opinions about what we should be doing, a lot of personal issues, so it was a really good process for us and this band as well making this record really brought us back together."
After four years of touring in support of their breakthrough debut, 'Dreams', and the highly successful follow-up, 'Real Life', the band endured an intense period of soul-searching. "I think we just sort of felt hindered by what other people may perceive our band as being about," Hume concedes. "We thought it was quite narrow; we just felt that we could be doing something so much more interesting. I still like our other records, but we just felt that it was time to push ourselves a lot further creatively and discover something new that we felt a little more ownership over. I definitely feel like it's really unique at the moment there's nothing else out there like it. And we've always wanted to make a concept album and we were really just waiting for an idea the right idea and it kind of came at the right time so we just went with it."
The band created a set of characters for their grandiose concept album, an experimental and epic rock record with heavy electronic influences. "The first character that we had in the record was Max," Hume explains, enthused. "He's kind of this kid who grows up absorbing vast amounts of media from 'Truth Of The World', and he's like a sponge in a way, just absorbs everything. And over time, it starts to affect who he is and starts to define who is. We wanted it to feel real and feel like there's these characters here that you could somehow relate to as well. And also, after a while we started to realise that we were kinda taking on characters in the songs. Dan ends up being Donovan Earl, the anchorman/news reporter with a slightly fascist undertone. And I'm kinda like the entertainer/ringleader that's espousing how amazing 'Truth Of The World' is, and how it's going to change your life. And Pete, the soldier, he sort of represents the party, the political end of 'Truth Of The World'."
Although the concept album delves into the world of manipulative media and political propaganda, the band avoided anything deemed to be preachy. "Everyone would agree that so much of our media is just directly fed from the States or heard from the States or UK tabloids you know," says Hume. "But it's just really the idea came along and it was really fun to write for. I guess the songs are a commentary on certain subjects, but it's really up to people to come up with their own conclusions about what we're saying."
When it came to writing the album's lyrics, Hume's approach was pretty straight forward. "Nothing was sacred and anything could be mocked Well, we thought twice about having a sample of Hitler in a song," he laughs. He's referring to the excerpt from Hitler's speech at Nuremburg, which appears in 'Everybody's Doing It'. "There's only really three samples on the album (including a sample of John F Kennedy in 'Between The Lines'); everything else is actually us putting on voices, putting on crazy voices. Actually, there's also a Charlie Chaplin sample at the end of 'Can You Hear Me?'
"It's kinda weird we sort of had this retro-future vibe/aesthetic that we were going for. So the music ended up sounding quite futuristic, but we're using samples from like 80 years ago sometimes. Pretty much all the craziest ideas stayed in there and seemed to work. I guess that was the cool thing about taking on these characters. When you're writing from the perspective of a character you created, there's sort of no rules; you can say whatever that character would say and hopefully not take any responsibility for it ourselves," he says, laughing.
How about bring it together live? "The tour's happening through late April/May period so the Melbourne shows will probably be in May. We're especially excited to get back onto the road again, and play the new songs. We've been starting to play them a lot and it's really fun, because we're gonna be playing the whole thing as one piece of music. It takes you on a journey playing it as well as hearing it."
Benchmark concept albums such as The Beatles' 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band', Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side Of The Moon' and The Who's 'Quadrophenia' inspired Hume to create an album that would be listened to in its entirely as one piece of music and as a rewarding journey. "I really feel this is our most original and strongest album, hands down," he says. "We definitely worked on it longer than anything else before it. In a way, listening to it now even I'm surprised that it did all come together and we didn't water any of our ideas down, you know. We just went for it, and hopefully people dig that. It feels really good. I think it's kind of set the bar higher for us now. The next album has to be at least as good as this," he laughs, "so I don't know if the next one will take 18 months to make or not. I mean it's a huge amount of time, a year and a half of your life, poured into that record. I think it was worth it."