A Chat with Evora
A music critic I am not, but I do know what I like when I hear it. That being said, there is a wide range of sounds that appeal to me which cross many genres and repertoires. When launching At a Glance, I knew music was something I would include through feature interviews and discussion.
So to start us off on our first music interview, I’d like to introduce a band whose sound I really enjoy. Evora is a five piece group originating from Dublin, Ireland. They have just released a single and music video titled Tell Me Your Name from their upcoming album, Hurry Up Before I Die. The album is in final production stages and will be out soon!
I became acquainted with Evora through their association with Eoin Macken and his upcoming Indie Feature Film, Cold. Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Alan Rickard, lead vocalist for the band. I found Alan to be funny and down to earth. Being able to visit with him during this eventful time for the band, I couldn’t help but feel the energy and excitement. Their schedule has been hectic working on the finishing elements for the album so I’m very grateful to Alan for the chance to fill us in and bring At a Glance all the details!
Enjoy the interview…but first take a listen to Evora and Tell Me Your Name (featuring Shannon)
Hi Alan! Please introduce us to the band lineup!
Ok, well Evora is made up of myself, I sing & play guitar.
Ian McSweeney, who plays guitar and a little bit of piano.
Jim Morton, who on the record plays piano and a little bit of guitar. Although truth be known that’s more out of circumstances we found ourselves in rather than design. James is a guitar player, but it just so happened that with the collection of songs that are making up the album (Hurry Up Before I Die), Jim has found himself playing piano on the majority because he also carries the burden of being a damn good piano player and with the vibe of the songs, the piano seemed to sit a lot better in them than guitar. So Jim on the piano was born and that’s where he is at now, but I’m sure he’ll break his way out of his ivory prison & back to the guitar soon enough!
Johnny Morton who plays drums.
And finally Joey Morton who plays bass guitar. although kinda like Jim, it’s only because he was last into the room when we first started playing together that he is on the bass! Joey is musically talented enough to be able to play virtually anything he picks up, as well as being a great singer, but when no one else was really able to play the bass, he took that bullet! Those Morton lads have talent spilling out their ears (the three are brothers).
When and how did the band form? A brief history as well as how the name Evora came to be?
Myself, Ian and the three brothers grew up within a few yards of each other, so we’ve known one another for as long as I can remember.
For example, Joe taught Jim how to play guitar, when I wanted to learn how to play guitar, Jim taught me (in exchange for a few cans of beer every lesson!!). It just seemed totally natural to play music together. So we did.
After sessions/parties etc, guitars and songs would come out and we’d play until the early hours. Then one thing led to another and next thing you know we’re in a band together.
In relation to the name Evora, I’ve seen quite a few people speculating hilariously online about where it came from and what it means. I’ve seen people say they imagine it means everything from something really beautiful like “broken night”, “new dawn” to it being some sort of code. All infinitely more beautiful or interesting than the truth. In reality, it comes from the name of the road me and the lads grew up on. Pretty straightforward really.
How would you classify your sound, and how (if any) has it evolved over time?
This for me is the hardest question we get asked simply because the automatic reaction is to say, “we don’t sound like anything else/we have a totally unique sound”, which is nonsense. Most things in music have been done before, multiple times. There is no shame in sounding vaguely like something else, as long as; 1) what you sound like is good and 2) you’re not just ripping it off.
The truth is that our sound changes all the time, often wildly from one song to another. Sometimes wildly within the same song! And generally, we go with it, if we like the song.
Who cares whether it’s a pop/rock/country/folk/whatever? The song is the most important thing. Egos, vanities, trends etc have to be left at the door. If a song is good, it’s good. Regardless.
When we originally started writing music (Shelter for example), it was quite bombastic, “melodramatic power pop” was a term our producer at the time (Paul Brewer) used, and that seemed pretty appropriate. But with this record, simplicity and a really natural sound was what we were going for and what best suited the collection of songs that were going to make up the album. So that’s what we did. The people we’ve worked with on the record, be it Michael Manning, Tim Martin, Vyvienne Long or Shannon were sought out because we knew they’d enhance that sound and help us bring the record where we wanted it to go.
Influences musically (and personally when it comes to support)?
Musically? I guess here I can only list artists that I like, the likes of Arcade Fire, Ryan Adams, U2, The Beatles, some Neil Young stuff, Sam Cooke, some Waterboys stuff, Radiohead, some Joni Mitchell stuff, Bon Iver….countless people! Whether or not you would say they’ve influenced what we do? I don’t know…sorry, that’s a very dull answer!
When it comes to personal support, my brother Paul has always been a great support to me. Always encouraging and a real believer in the band.
Can you share a little about the songwriting process? Who writes and where do you gather songwriting inspiration?
We don’t have a set way of doing things, so I can only really comment on how it was for this record. With this one I’d write the basic structure, lyrics and melody of the song & record it. Then send it to the lads & they’d give it a yay or a nay, if it was a yay, we’d then tackle it as a band and see where it ended up. Pretty simple and straightforward!
In regards to inspiration, it can come from anything. A night out. A movie. A girl. A book. Imagination. Anything.
Your debut album Hurry Up Before I Die will be available after the first of the year. Has the journey been everything you thought it would be? Anything significant you learned along the way?
Practice. Seriously! Its incredible how something seems ok in a live setting but when under the microscope of the studio, it quickly falls apart.
Has the journey been everything I thought it would be? I guess until we hear the finished album, it’ll be hard to say definitively. But it’s been a great ride so far except for a couple of little bumps along the way!
We still need a little more work to finish off a couple of things & then we need to have it mixed, but if the finished product sounds like I hope it’ll sound, I think it’ll be a piece of work that we can be proud of and one that some people will like. As such, it’ll be everything I’d hoped it would be and the journey will have been well worth it.
The video for Tell Me Your Name, the first single from your upcoming album, is now available. Can you tell us a little about the concept and the filming process of the video?
With the simplistic sound of the song, we really just wanted a video that would act as a vehicle for the song, allow people to see it and enjoy it and look kind of nice and warm too-particularly with us putting it out at Christmas. The guys who worked on the video with us (Eoin, Eimear, Aoife, Sue) are all incredibly talented in their fields and were probably wasted on such a simple video, but the whole evening was a pleasure to be honest and we all had great fun shooting it!
Your music is featured as soundtrack in the upcoming Indie Feature Film, Cold. How did you become involved in the project? Can you tell us how the process worked? Was the music catered to the storyline/film or did you apply pieces you had already composed? Eoin Macken stated you were childhood friends…any inside tidbits you can share that would prove to be an interesting anecdote?
Eoin grew up in Evora too so again, we’ve known him since childhood. He’s always heard the stuff we’ve done and saw us live and liked what we did.
I know he has said before that when he starts a project he hears us in his head as he writes scenes, well for this project some of the stuff that’s on our record came after I’d read an early draft of the script for Cold. So in a sense it was written, not as a continuation of the narrative of Cold or anything, but just of a similar tone, if that makes sense?!
Having seen some early edits of Cold, and being on set for our little cameo, the movie is going to have a real beautiful, simplistic, almost rustic tone to it. Similar in a lot of ways to what we were trying to achieve with the record so I think the pair will match up well together.
It’s also just really good timing that Eoin’s most ambitious project to date coincides with our own.
As for inside tidbits about Eoin….nothing much or he’ll be straight onto me, but I will say this, he is not the most punctual man in the world. He is usually late, in fact, scratch that, he is always late.
What is your favorite thing about being involved in the whole music experience? What gives you the most satisfaction, enjoy the most, and frustrates the most?
Without sounding too corny, it’s great being in a band with your best friends. Even if we do argue on occasion! Although, we’re not all brothers, knowing each other all our lives, we’re a family band and sharing the highs and lows that come with being in a band together is nice.
Advice for someone starting out playing music and looking to progress into recording?
Do it. Have fun. And always learn to play in time!
Are you scheduling an album release party? Future plans for gigs or tours we can look forward to now that the album release is approaching? How about the States?! =)
States is a bit far afield for now unfortunately but you never know what will happen!
We’ll be starting to schedule gigs for 2013 as soon as the record is complete. And yes there is going to be an album launch!! And good lord yes there will be the party to end all parties afterwards!
Keep an eye on http://www.facebook.com/evoraofficial or follow on twitter @evora_music for news on gigs and the albums launch!
Thanks Alan for taking time to share with us! And now for a little bit of fun…an At a Glance feature:
FAST FIVE – Questions for fun!
Last song you listened to on your MP3 player (other than yours)? Van Morrison – I’ll Be Your Lover Too
Favorite food indulgence? Fillet steak.
Favorite guilty pleasure? Meanies. Irish people will know what I mean. People from other parts of the world? Not so much.
Which Superhero would you choose to be? Batman. Definitely Batman.
Tell us something we might be surprised to know? A family member bought me a copy of 50 Shades of Grey & Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never” for Christmas. Bizarre.
Evora’s release of Hurry Up Before I Die finally made it’s way to me clear over here across the pond in the good old USA!! Beautiful presentation, and of course fabulous sound, it’s an amazing addition to anyone’s collection!