It’s been three years since Bob Evans (AKA Kevin Mitchell) gave us Familiar Stranger and the much anticipated follow up album is set for released this week.
Car Boot Sale is a concise, ten-track record with lyrics immersed in universal themes of love, family and home plus wider concerns: shock jocks, climate change deniers and bullying.
Dropping on June 17, Car Boot Sale, appeared to be Kevin’s way of paying homage to the travelling salesman-style trek of his 2013 tour, although he says that’s only part of the reason for its naming.
“I came up with the title Car Boot Sale mostly just because I liked the sound of the words. It was only later that they became to represent some kind of meaning or truth for me. So it’s a personal thing more than a reflection of the music industry and how much it has changed,” he says.
“So much is talked about and written about how much the industry has changed, and it has, but the DIY thing is just the same now as it’s always been. Sometimes you’ve just got to get out there and do shit for yourself to make something happen.”
In 2003, Kevin launched Suburban Kid, his debut solo album as Bob Evans, with a desire to do something acoustic away from the revelry and popularity of four-piece Perth mega-success Jebediah.
The Bob Evans material started out as acoustic guitar and vocals but has since evolved into a larger sound over the years and Kevin says this new album brings it back again.
“I think that with each album I’ve wanted to grow the sound a bit and also it’s been about having the opportunities and resources available to me to be able to do more stuff. That being said, my new album is very much about stripping things back again,” he says.
“[I’m looking forward to] people being able to hear it and to add a new dimension to the live shows I play. I feel really proud about how this new record adds to my catalogue of songs. I think they’re pretty good.”
Although Kevin doesn’t have a particular favourite song on the album, there are a few that stand out for him.
“I love the chord structure of ‘Race to the Bottom’. It’s kind of baroque in a way. I love the production on ‘Old News’ and ‘Ron Sexsmith’, those are probably my favourites to listen to. I like the lyrical concept of ‘Happy Tears’, it feels so complete and succinct,” he says.
Speaking of ‘Ron Sexsmith’, that’s about a fan Kevin met in Adelaide who stole his beer and inspired the tune.
“The story is all right there in the song,” he says. “I was playing a gig and a guy came backstage and grabbed a beer and rolled a smoke and we got talking about music. He was a first year university student or something and was very enthusiastic and passionate, which is great only we were from two very different worlds. He certainly meant well enough.”
Perhaps aside from that quirky experience, Kevin has some pretty fond memories of Adelaide.
“I remember first coming to Adelaide in the early touring days of Jebediah and we used to always drive over from Melbourne and we would always come through the Adelaide Hills,” he says.
“The rumours were back then that Adelaide had pretty lenient laws regarding marijuana possession, which of course at that time made most musicians quite excited. We always played at the Uni Bar and HQ mostly. I also remember one time on a Big Day Out tour there were heaps of kids waiting to meet all the bands when they came off the plane and that didn’t happen in any other city on the tour.”
A Bob Evans tour has now been announced and Kevin promises big things to come from it.
“Big plans!” he says. “I’ll be touring with a five-piece band in all the capitals later in the year.”
Bob Evans is set to come to Adelaide on August 4 playing at the Grace Emily, and Kevin Mitchell will return soon after as frontman for Jebediah at Day on the Green in November with Something For Kate, You Am I and Spiderbait.
We wondered how he divided his time between his two acts and the other projects he’s got going on.
“It used to be harder than it is now. It’s easier now because both Jebs and Bob have settled in to a peaceful co-existence based on where both things are at,” Kevin says.
“Bob Evans is my primary recording outlet and where I see the future for most of my new songs and Jebediah are very much a live touring band doing things at our own schedule. I think both sides are happy with where they are at and successful in their own individual ways, so it’s good.”
But we almost didn’t have either musical version of Kevin before Suburban Songbook came out, as he explains.
“Before that album came out was the closest I’ve ever got to quitting music as a career, or giving up on the dream, I suppose. Jebediah were going on hiatus because we were sort of burned out and my solo thing hadn’t really broken through to any meaningful success yet,” he says.
“I was experiencing a weird time whereby my musical inspiration was peaking at exactly the same time my success with Jebediah was fading. I knew the music I was making at home was exciting but I wasn’t sure if I still had a future as an artist.”
We’re very glad Kevin made the decision to continue on as Bob to give us great music like Car Boot Sale (read our review here) and you can book tickets to his tour here for when he returns to beer-stealin’, pot-totin’ Adelaide.
By Libby Parker and Matthew Trainor
Photo: EMI Publicity