SOTA FESTIVAL: WAM interviews BOB EVANS
Bob Evans, the multi ARIA-winning alter ego of Jebediah frontman Kevin Mitchell, has graced the Australian music scene for more than two decades. Mitchell is a self-confessed romantic who has written some of the country’s most beloved songs. Under the alias of Bob Evans, Mitchell has released five albums, all of which showcase the versatility and skill of this talented songsmith, many of which have become Australian classics.
Ahead of playing the FREE SOTA Festival this coming Monday 5 June – WA’s biggest celebration of WA music held at Elizabeth Quay as part of the WA Day Festival long weekend (times below) – WAM interviewed the Rolling Stone Best Male Artist winning artist about setting up his Music With Mates charity helping refugees, the possible return of Jebediah, the spiritual evolution of aliens and more…
You’re almost through your Lonesome Highways Tour, how has it been so far?
Wonderful and surprising so far. It’s my first proper solo tour of Australia in four years and it’s been going better than I hoped it would, which in itself is a great feeling. I feel like I have an endurance that I didn’t have before, (or maybe I’m just better at judging my alcohol intake), that allows me to play for longer without it getting messy. So I’ve been really getting in to playing generous sets, with lots of requests. I also talk a lot more on stage than I ever have, perhaps as a result of feeling more comfortable up there than ever before or maybe it’s a lingering side effect of making podcasts! But most of all it just feels good to still be able to attract a crowd after all these years, so I’m trying really hard not to disrespect that.
You co-founded the not for profit organisation Music With Mates. Tell us about how this came about and the opportunities you provide for young migrants?
Well funnily enough there is a Perth connection here because Christine, who I have co-founded Music With Mates with, got in contact with me through mutual friends from Perth that I actually went to high school with. She is really the heart and soul of the organization, my role is just to kind of rally support amongst the music industry and put together events for us to attend. Basically what we want to do is create opportunities for new arrivals to Australia, migrants, those with refugee backgrounds, to come out and enjoy the live music scene in Melbourne by offering them free entry to shows and putting little groups together and then going out and having fun, watch the bands and make friends. It’s a reaction to the fear and suspicioun and phobias that have been created by elements of the online and mainstream media as well as some of our politicians who seem to perpetuate this myth that immigration is bad for Australia and represents a grave threat. It’s our belief that this is not the case and never has been. The Australia I know is welcoming and compassionate. So we are hoping that we can use the thriving live music scene of Melbourne as a conduit towards creating and strengthening inclusive communities.
Jebediah have also been busy the last year or so with touring – including playing last year’s SOTA. What are the chances you guys would get together for more than just a reunion tour…aka new material?
Well, we’ve risen back from the dead once already with Kosciuszko and I think we did a pretty damn good job of it. If we do it again, it’s gonna have to be something pretty special. One thing I have learnt with great clarity is that you never say never with Jebediah and as long as the four of us stay together and the band doesn’t dissolve then anything is possible. We are all really enjoying the band these days, as much as we ever have since the beginning, so I think there is always a chance we will do another record.
You’re now based over east, but how do you think hailing from WA has affected your music?
I’m grateful, in hindsight, that WA gave both Jebediah and Bob Evans time to find their feet. Especially twenty years ago, Jebediah were able to play a lot in Perth and build an audience and find our feet long before the industry over East started to take notice. Granted, it did still happen quite quickly for us but had we been based in Sydney or Melbourne it would have been much quicker and much more frightening. So in that respect, I think coming from WA gave us a certain protection from becoming even more over exposed than we already were before we were ready. So how did that affect our music? I think it just allowed it to flow a bit more freely without too much expectation or pressure.
Your must see act for SOTA this year?
Katy Steele and Abbe May are both playing new material that I haven’t had a chance to see or hear yet so they are top of my list. I really like what I’ve heard of Elli Schoen too so I’ll be keen to catch her set.
Do you know WAM has a time machine? What advice would you give to your younger self as you were starting out in music?
Don’t quit violin lessons when you’re 8 and take more interest in the business side of things when you’re 20. Both seem crushingly boring at the time but you’ll be glad for it in the long run.
What’s that mysterious flying object? Aliens have come to visit… What is the first thing you take them to in Perth?
Well if this had of happened in the nineties I would of taken them to the Futuro House, (look it up) in Willeton and asked them if they knew how to get it started. These days I’d take them to parliament house in the hope that their technological evolution has only been made possible by their spiritual evolution and that they may impart some wisdom on our leaders.
What’s happening for you in the near future?
I’m wrapping up my solo tour after SOTA with a few more shows in Victoria and South Australia and then Jebediah are touring with Hoodoo Gurus, You Am I and Adalita in August and September and then Jebediah are supporting Midnight Oil for a couple of shows in October. In between I’ll be demoing the next Bob record, making podcasts, (“Good Evans, it’s a Bobcast!”) and trying to build my non for profit Music With Mates up.
SOTA Festival is proudly presented as part of the 2017 WA Day Festival, and co-presented by WAM. The sixth annual SOTA showcase will be held at Elizabeth Quay Monday 5 June, as part of the WA Day long weekend festivities with both under 18 and licensed areas. Best of all, it’s free!