Indieterria meets Dharma Bums

Howdy!

Welcome back to another edition of Indieterria, where we discover new and exciting music. After speaking to the wonderful Nic Evennett two weeks ago and receiving many nice comments regarding the interview (including a praise from the legendary musician and radio DJ, Tim Robinson himself!), today we will introduce you to a 4 piece outfit from Worcestershire that plays rock and blues better than the cowboys from the American West.

Dharma Bums are incredibly nice folks and it was a privilege to talk to them. If blues, country and a jazz fusion is your thing, you cannot miss them! Please read on.

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Welcome to the Wild, Wild West Midlands

 

Dharma Bums at the Abbey Road Studios in London

Inspiration works in mysterious ways. Sometimes you are not even interested in making music and you end up forming a genre defining band with your school mates or friends living on the same street. Or you could be a professional musician, for years struggling to find same minded people to play with.  Luckily for us, all members of Dharma Bums were in the right place, at the right time and clicked together immediately. Their instant communication, understanding of one another and simple joy of working together can be heard in their every song. It was a pure pleasure to listen to their EP entitled “Nothing to lose blues”. Vanadian Avenue took The Bums leading outlaw, Kevin Wrench to the nearest saloon to discuss their previous musical experiences, love for blues and their new material over a bottle of finest whisky and a game of cards.

Kevin Wrench – Vocals/Guitar
Dave Shuter – Lead Guitar/Harmonica
Jon Green – Bass
Thomas Paine – Percussion

Your biography mentions that Dharma Bums were formed in 2015 yet all the members have been active on Worcestershire music scene for years and were involved in several different projects before. Tell us how did the band start and introduce all the members to our readers.

Kevin Wrench: Dave Shuter (lead guitar/harmonica) and myself initially started playing together early in 2015. Dave’s wife lived just up the road from where I grew up and after chatting to her on Facebook one evening, Dave and me got together and instantly hit it off. We shared an appreciation for blues and in particular, Robert Johnson. Dave had never met anyone, who was as keen on Robert Johnson as he was before the two of us met. Dave & his wife performed in a function band together for a number of years but they hadn’t gigged for quite some time when we first met. Dave’s patience has really helped me improve my own playing. He’s one of the most easy going  and nicest guys I know.

I’ve been interested in making music for years but could never quite find the right outlet to pursue it. I’ve never been a particularly confident performer and as a child, I was painfully shy. It has taken a number of years  and a bit of effort forcing myself out of my comfort zone in order to get to the point where I feel happy performing or sharing my music with anyone.  Some time ago I had guitar lessons  and played on and off for years but never really considered writing songs myself. I had some singing lessons around 2009 and did ABRSM Grade 5. The popularity of Michael Buble at the time coupled with my grandfather’s influence. He was a big admirer of Frank Sinatra and led me to collaborate with a couple of local pianists. Together, we performed mainly swing/jazz covers at local restaurants.

In 2013, I was approached by a producer friend about writing some songs for a solo project. Unfortunately, that project never quite came to fruition although I may re-record the four songs I wrote at some point in the not too distant future. Essentially, that meeting was the spark that ignited my passion for song writing. I also appeared in a couple of musical shows at the Rose Theatre in Kidderminster; that was where I met our percussionist Thomas “Tom” Paine. Two years later, while volunteering at The Civic Hall in Stourport, I organised a monthly music night called ‘Live Local’ which featured a variety of local artists. As well as being a rewarding experience, it also ended up being a massive inspiration as I was bowled over by the amount of talent in the local area and that ultimately inspired me to seek out some musicians to start a band myself.

Walking down the Abbey Road

Our drummer Tom has been a member of two local amateur dramatics groups for a number of years. In fact Tom`s whole family are members of both Kidderminster Operatic & Dramatic Society (KODS) and Carpet Trades Musical Theatre Company (CTMTC). Tom plays a variety of instruments and joined us around November 2015. He had never played the cajón before he joined us and slowly but surely, we’ve discovered more & more things that Tom can play which has greatly added to our overall sound. Only last year he was bought a banjo as a present and learnt several songs on it already. Tom grew up in a family where performing is second nature. He is a very gifted  and versatile musician.

Out of all of us, our bass player Jon Green has had the most experience in terms of being in bands, he’s played in several different bands since the age of 14, ranging from Rock to Crust Core Punk. A couple of the bands Jon has been involved in previously have been signed to record contracts. Jon is also a multi instrumentalist who plays the bodhrán and recently started learning the violin to bring something a bit different to our sound. Jon has performed all over the UK including London and even toured in the US. Jon’s daughter Ellisha Green is an extremely talented singer/songwriter and Ellie has also performed with the youth section of KODS, which is how Tom and I met Jon as he was often involved helping out backstage.

As I’m sure you’ve gathered by this point we combine a variety of very different backgrounds but we all share a passion for making music.

Right at the end of 2017, Dan Mathew joined us on percussion. Dan is also the drummer for The Bug Club who are another great local band and already he is proving to be a tremendous asset to our line-up. He has given the new songs we’re currently working on a much more dynamic sound.

“The Dharma Bums” is the title of the 1958 beat generation classic novel written by Jack Kerouac. It is also the name of an American garage band that influenced many pre-grunge groups in Seattle including Nirvana, Hole and Green River. What inspired you to take on that name as well? How are you going to distinguish yourselves from your American counterparts?

Kevin Wrench: That would be down to me. “The Dharma Bums” is one of my favourite novels and I’ve loved Kerouac’s work for years. He was a pivotal figure in the Beat Generation of the 1950’s counter culture which was very much a forerunner to the psychedelic 1960’s. It influenced some of my favourite artists including The Doors and The Beatles. My partner and I travelled quite a bit in our early 20’s and on our travels we visited Morocco and stayed in Jack Kerouac’s room in Tangier. Jack and Alan Ginsberg stayed there for a couple of years writing. In fact, I popped the question to my partner Sarah in Jack’s room when we arrived there!

After I chose the name, I realized that quite a few bands had used it. I did do a bit of research before picking it, but must admit, I didn’t realise that the other Dharma Bums had reached such a wide audience. I’m sure though if they truly are “Dharma Bums” they won’t have any issues with us using the name too and our sound is very, very different to theirs.

 You have just released a video to your song “Ballad of El Chivato“. It was directed by twice award nominated film maker Nick J. Townsend of Weak13 and shot in Bewdley. Can you tell us more about working with Nick and the story behind the song’s lyrics.

Kevin Wrench:  Working with Nick has been an absolute pleasure. He’s a lovely genuine guy who’s passionate, full of creativity, enthusiasm and he’s been on the local music scene for as long as I can remember. Not only did he produce a fantastic music video for us, but he’s also been incredibly supportive and has been very generous with his wisdom and experience which has been invaluable. I wrote “Ballad of El Chivato” while on holiday in Tenby with my partner and our daughter. It was raining one day so we were limited as to what we could do. We stayed in the caravan and I wrote a song. I’d been reading a book called “To Hell On A Fast Horse” by Mark Lee Gardner which is about the American West Outlaw Billy The Kid. I’ve read many books about the Old West, particularly about Billy The Kid and I’ve always loved songs that tell a story so that’s exactly what I tried to do with this song.

Dharma Bums use a mixture of blues, jazz, country and rock and rock to create their unique sound. Slap Magazine described your music as “cool” while Ryan’s Gig Guide called it “unique and vintage”. What is the audience reaction? Do they like it?

Kevin Wrench:  Audiences tend to respond really well to our music. We’ve picked up some lovely supporters (feel reluctant to say fans) who really seem to appreciate the blend of influences we draw on. As we’re still building our repertoire of original material, we tend to play a mixture of covers and originals at our gigs at the moment, covering artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Hank Williams, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Prince or The Soggy Bottom Boys. We’re writing more and more original songs though, so over time we will increase the number of originals we play and most likely not play as many covers. As I’m sure many other bands will testify, you’re never going to please everyone. There’s been one or two gigs where people drunkenly shout “play Summer of 69” or “play some Bon Jovi” not that there’s anything wrong with these songs/artists but they’re just not to our taste; but for the most part we get a great reaction wherever we play.

“Ballad of El Chivato” is promoting your latest EP entitled “Nothing to Lose Blues” released in July 2017. The 5 track EP was recorded in Stourport and mastered in London at the famous Abbey Road Studios. It must have been quite an experience to work with Sean Magee a Grammy winning mastering engineer of The Beatles, Rush, Deep Purple and Public Image Ltd.

Nothing to Lose Blues cover

Kevin Wrench: Since we started gigging, every penny the band has earned has gone into an old biscuit tin and has been accumulated to pay for recording, mastering, producing a video and paying for our CDs to be printed. We feel it’s better to create memories like visiting the legendary Abbey Road Studios, rather than taking a quarter share of gig money and then having to contribute towards these costs anyway after we’ve spent the money. Obviously, visiting Abbey Road wasn’t cheap, but it was paid for entirely out of the kitty and is an experience that none of us will ever forget. All four of us stayed together in London as well as our time in the studio, we had a great time.

“Nothing To Lose Blues” features a wide array of local musicians including George Alan on trumpet, Chris Yates on piano and Matt Worley on banjo. The EP cover was also designed by an established contemporary artist, Craig Simmons. For a debut record, the guest list is simply impressive. Was it hard to bring so many creative minds to the same project?

Kevin Wrench: When I first thought about starting a band, I always imagined the line-up being flexible and being able to work as a collective melting pot of various creative minds able to operate across a variety of genres. This was a very romantic notion for an amateur band and I’ve since come to realise that it’s important to have a strong bond amongst the core members of a band. That’s not to say that we can’t invite other local musicians to make guest appearances  and I think our next record will be very similar in that respect. I met a lot of musicians while organizing ‘Live Local’ at The Civic in Stourport and I made a lot of friends in the local music/artistic community. I’ve become quite cheeky and not afraid to ask others to be involved. We never tell people what we want them to play, we invite them to play because we know that they will bring something of themselves to our recordings. We were blessed on this first recording to get George, Matt and Chris on board, they are all extremely talented guys and we hope they will be involved on our next project. We also hope to invite several other local musicians to be involved. Craig Simmons is an incredibly talented local artist  and luckily for us, he is friends with Tom. We think he did an awesome job on our artwork  and we very much hope to be able to work with him again on our next release.

Rumour has it that you are beginning to work on a new material. We heard that you have wrote a protest song called ” Sell Your soul”. Would you like to elaborate?

Kevin Wrench: (laughing) I don’t wish to give too much away just yet but yes this is true. Like many people, I’m a little concerned by the emergence of certain “leaders” in the last couple of years and wanted to write something that communicated this concern that I know I’m not alone in feeling. We’ve already discussed with Nick Townsend about a possible video for “Sell Your Soul” and we’re quite keen to get it out in the public domain as soon as we can. I know some people don’t like it when musicians incorporate their political opinions into their music but I think it’s difficult not to sometimes as it effects us all  and our opinions are just as valid as anyone else’s. We’ve also got a couple of bluesy numbers  and a pirate shanty inspired folk song which will appear on our next record.

Dharma Buns performing

Dharma Bums has just been confirmed to perform at WolvesFest in Wolverhampton on 16-17th of June 2018. Where else can we see you playing live? Any coming up shows to look out for?

Kevin Wrench:  Our calendar is filling up quite nicely at the moment with new dates being added regularly. We’ve not pursued too many gigs in this early part of the year as we wanted to focus on writing new material and also we wanted to give our new percussionist Dan chance to settle in. We’re playing at The Swan in Stourport on 1st March and at the Cock & Magpie on 14th April. We’re currently arranging dates with many of the venues we’ve played at over the last couple of years, so if people wish to keep up to date they could check out our Facebook page  at http://www.facebook.com/dharmabumsuk.

And finally, a question that has to appear on every interview: where do you see yourselves in 5 years time?

Kevin Wrench: Wow, that’s a big question! I see us being maybe 2/3 albums further along with a lot more of an established fan base and maybe even having travelled to America to possibly have used a studio over there for mastering and with a bit of luck picked up a few gigs while we were there. I’d also like to have done a couple of mini tours in the UK, maybe also in Ireland and I’d like to have gigged in London. I’d also like to think we would’ve had a bit more airplay which seems to be the most difficult thing to acquire, particularly if you fall outside of the mainstream musical spectrum. The ultimate aim would be able to give up the day job  and focus full time on music. I don’t think any of us are naive enough to believe we’ll achieve fame and fortune but there are plenty of musicians out there who are not household names but still manage to make a good living from their music.

Dharma Buns review from Ryan Gigs Guide

Dharma Bums can be found online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dharmabumsuk/
Bandcamp: https://dharmabumsuk.bandcamp.com/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkOHwhVl706lJQxVJB0fLcA
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/5Ex1lCGaJ20okS35pfwa2O

Articles about the band:
http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/15888601.Kidderminster_band_brings_a_touch_of_the_wild_west_to_district
http://www.stourbridgenews.co.uk/news/local/15888670.Stourbridge_film_maker_brings_wild_west_to_Bewdley
http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/15369035.Kidderminster_band_to_release_debut_EP_next_month/

You can purchase their music here:
CDBABY:
https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/dharmabums12
Amazon Music: https://www.amazon.com/Nothing-to-Lose-Blues/dp/B0742979NT
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/nothing-to-lose-blues-ep/1261253519
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If you think we have missed some excellent tune, a future rock star or a band that is worth listening to, please kindly let Vanadian Avenue know and we will be more than happy to feature them on our blog. We are constantly on the lookout for independent artists and we will always help in any way we can. We do receive a lot of requests so please give us some time to properly listen to your music and read through attached links. It sometimes can take a week or more but if we like what you have sent us, it will definitely be featured on Indieterria.

We do specialize in rock and alternative music, but we appreciate all genres, from A(bba) to Z(ZTop)  so please don’t be discouraged! All requests should be sent to rdabrowicz@yahoo.com and contain links to Soundcloud, Bandcamp or Youtube videos. We do accept mp3’s but please limit them to 2 or 3 only – choose the best ones that represent you and your musical style. We will also need 3 or 4 pictures (good resolution is essential as they will be used to illustrate the interview or a review) and a bio. You know, the bare minimum needed to show the world how good you are. Vanadian Avenue undertakes a thorough research and we try to present each featured artist in a professional way. Interested? Drop us a line!

Thank you and Indieterria is always pleased to hear from you!

Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

Indieterria meets Nic Evennett

Nic Evennett – A Song to a Siren

 

Nic is also a skilled photographer doing all her publicity shots herself.

Welcome to the new chapter of Indieterria, where we profile artists on the unsigned/independent circuit that bring something new to the audiences. We want to introduce you to incredible artist, poet, photographer and composer based in Kent – Nic Evennett.

Nic not only records and mixes her own compositions, staying true to DIY ethics of the genre. She also built quite an impressive profile as a studio based artist. She is not touring, not playing the popularity games on social media. And yet appears on national radio and enjoys a wide network of collaborators. She is passionate and driven. Talking to her was a privilege. Please read on.

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You have the most unconventional biography we have ever seen. It reads: “I bash the piano and stuff”. We were expecting few home-made demos but found a whole catalogue of songs, an established artist who have been on national radio and comparisons to Kate Bush. Not exactly just piano bashing! Would you like to introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria?

Nic Evennett: Well, firstly, thank you so much for interviewing me! I’m all flustery and excited! It’s a real honour, and it’s my very first proper interview.

I remember Tom Robinson saying something about the “I bash the piano and stuff”, commenting that is was self-deprecating, and I think self-deprecation sums me up quite well! Your question is one that always makes me (pauses) clam up, somewhat. I find talking about me incredibly hard. I doubt that’s uncommon. It’s much easier for me to just quote what somebody else has said about me. But I’ll have a go here: I am Nic, a singer-songwriter from Kent, United Kingdom. I’ve been bashing the piano since I was 7, studied music for a while, had a long break, and then really only turned to song-writing about five years ago, or so. I also love photography, being out in nature, listening to Buddhist talks,  meditations, and eating cake, in no particular order. There. I did it. (laughs)

Nic Evennett through her own lens

Your song “Outside” debuted in January 2017 on BBC Introducing Kent  to very favourable reviews.  Listeners described it as “outstanding” and “mesmerising”, while BBC staff was also visibly impressed. Not a bad start of the year. Did you expect such reactions?

Nic Evennett: No, not at all, and certainly not for that particular song. It was a lovely surprise, and I am so grateful to Abbie McCarthy at BBC Introducing Kent for including me in that show. It’s funny. Many of my songs are kind of dredged up from some depths – something that needs exploration, then gets twisted and turned into music and poetry, trying to find some resolution, and then splattered out into song. And I come out the other side thinking, whooof, I needed to get that stuff out of my head. “Outside” didn’t work that way, which is very rare for me. I just liked the riff! And I think it was the riff that got me a foot in the door. I think my music generally tends to be more meandering, more spacious, and that doesn’t always lend itself well to radio play. But this one is a bit livelier. And yet, I reckon it’s probably in my own bottom three! Funny how it works.

“Outside” also found itself on the rotation at the Channel Radio and Strange Fruit Radio. Your next offering – “Hurry” – went even further and was voted “Song of the Week” at the Strange Fruit at the recommendations from listeners.  We know it was a digital release but we will still call it a beautifully crafted ballad. Any inspiration behind that song?

Nic Evennett: “Hurry” is much, much more from the heart. Like all my songs, well, bar “Outside”, they really are little windows into my heart and mind. And as somebody who loves words, loves playing with and manipulating language, and somebody who in many ways is quite private, my lyrics tend to be deliberately ambiguous. I suppose it’s a little safety net for me in some ways – only those who truly, truly listen can see through the windows. But also I love the idea that the songs can be whatever you want them to be about. Once they are out in the world, I really don’t see them as my songs any more. They just float about for people to borrow and use and sink into when they need to. So some people have questioned the lyrics to “Hurry” – mainly asking what in the world does it all mean. Which is a good question that I’m not sure I have the answer to! I think it’s about somebody reaching a point where they want somebody else to intervene; take away bad memories, tough stories. “Hurry” has a funny time signature too, which is meant to depict waves rolling in and out. The sea features quite a lot in my songs. Or rather, nature does. Sea, rivers, the moon, the seasons, the sky, trees. I can’t think of a song that doesn’t mention nature, actually.

Collages created by Nic often include poetry or lines from her lyrics.

You have been featured several times on national radio BBC 6 Music (singles “Somehow” and “Where We Are The Forest”) and by Tom Robinson himself. Now this is not just mere luck. It is quite hard to get through all the vetting for the “MixTape Show”. You did it more than once.

Nic Evennett:  I think that Tom is just blimming lovely and kind! In fact, that was a lovely surprise too because neither “Somehow” nor “Where We Are The Forest” got short-listed! It was picked by a few people, but not enough, and I felt thoroughly deflated. But I think Tom ultimately decides what he wants to broadcast and added me both times, which was so lovely of him. It’s people like him that truly help the likes of me. I think there are two strong divisions in music – those who will push hard at the self-publicity bit and have a lot of confidence in what they do, and then folk like me, where none of that comes naturally or comfortably at all. I worry that the folk in the latter never get heard, never get found. There is a difference between being confident and wanting to be heard. An artistic voice can be so, so important for people who lack confidence, self-esteem, or who just struggle generally. So having a platform where you can submit songs and they are judged in their own right, without the need for self-promotion or long-winded bios, is essential. And wonderful. The Fresh Net team do a superb job. Love ’em.

You have about sixteen songs on your Bandcamp and Soundcloud profiles and they are produced and recorded to highest quality. Moreover, we see that certain songs are mixed by other artists. Are they really home recordings or have you invested in professional studio?

Nic Evennett:  Well, that made me beam! Know why? Mixing is the bane of my life! I never feel I get it right. Or I think I have got it right, and find it’s completely wrong. My ‘studio’ is the spare bedroom and I share it with drying laundry, stuff that should be in other rooms that I haven’t got round to putting away, and the dog. In most recordings you can hear the birds in the tree outside. Most songs have had a few dozen takes after bikes decide to whiz up and down the road, or somebody has slammed a front door, or somebody has yelled at somebody else, and then there is much quiet swearing from me and we go again. I tell myself that there is something…lovely and organic in home recordings, which in truth I think there is, but that only seems to apply to everybody else but me. I really love listening to songs with other sounds going on in the background. I love listening to songs where the mix isn’t perfect and there is a rawness to it. But if a bird has tweeted out of place, or I have made a vocal tick somewhere, I am very hard on myself about it all. So to hear that is wonderful. I shall try not to give myself such a hard time from now on.

Besides your solo compositions, you are involved many collaborations, two main projects being Return To Mountain (with Steve Gleason) and Silent Reasons (with Frank Cable).  Would you like to tell us more about them?

Nic Evennett:  Ah, I love working with Steve and Frank. I suppose they are two I work more regularly with and I feel a deep musical connection with. They are both gorgeous souls all round, and that is important to me. I have done work with quite a few folk, though. Robert Pabst, from Cinematic Dance Music, is a genius and did a super Bond-style remix of my song “Hold On”. We have done other projects together that I have loved working on. And I also work with a chap called UNJAY, who is big on his Future Bass – a genre so far from what I do and yet I find so interesting to do the vocals for. Not to mention other fabulous musicians I have been honoured to work with. I am very lucky to have these folk encouraging me and inspiring me.

Your back catalogue is available on US based streaming platform Pandora. The service describes you to their subscribers as “delicate mystery, warm and lustrous, yet fragile and crystalline – a bewitching blend of Kate Bush and Linda Perhacs, surrounded by dolorous, reverb-drenched piano and woven into broken-hearted balladry”.  This is the very first time we have seen an indie artist being compared to Kate Bush and we have to wholeheartedly agree. Are you able to  tell us how well are you received on Pandora?

Nic Evennett: Being compared to Kate Bush is just crazy, isn’t it? I can’t get my head around that one. Kate is in a league of one. She truly is an astounding musician, poet, artist, woman. So my name in the same sentence as hers makes me feel both thrilled and baffled. And maybe even a bit scared. And Andee Conners from Pandora, was the very first person to write a review on me and for that I love him to bits. What an amazing first review. It’s something I read when I am feeling anxious about my music…so I read it a lot. I’m so grateful to Andee for that. As for how I am received, I have no idea! We can’t get Pandora in the UK and nor can I access any listening figures or anything. Actually, I quite like it that way. It is a little mystery. I have no idea when or if my music is being played.

It is quite hard to describe your music. There are piano based ballads, but also loops, possible samples, elements that remind us of trip -hop. If you were to give yourself a label, what genre would you subscribe to?

Nic Evennett:  It is hard, isn’t it?! I never know where to stick myself, category-wise. Something might jump out at you as trip-hop in style, and then a choir will burst into life (well, just me really, layered up a hundred times) and throw you off the scent. It throws me too! The term ‘alternative’ gets used a lot by folk who have no real home and who travel between genres, so I tend to opt for that one. ‘Odd’ is another one. Or ‘a bit mixed up’. Any of those could apply to me (laughs).

Recently you spoke about limitations imposed on artists due to health reasons. You said: “Folk with chronic conditions need to be heard in more ways than one. I often feel sidelined for not being able to give a gig list or tour dates. I can’t be alone.”  We would like you to elaborate a bit more on the topic, because we think there are still many people in the music industry who do not know how to handle artists with chronic conditions or disabilities.

Nic Evennett:  This is a BIG one for me. Personally I have two main conditions that sort of take over my world quite a lot. One is PMDD, which is a devastating condition that few have heard about. Basically, think PMS multiplied infinitely! The second is Fibromyalgia. And other than that, bipolar and other mental health stuff. What a combo! All ‘invisible’ conditions, so like many out there, you’d never know it if you met me. But these things, and mental illnesses like depression or  anxiety are so isolating for many. You may not feel able to leave the house, you may not be even able to get out of bed. So musically, just standing up and recording is an issue for me. My voice is temperamental and reflects how bad things are. Gigging and touring is certainly out the window. I have no doubt I am one of a vast amount of people who love making music, love singing, love playing but hate performing! I am not a performer. And I think in this day and age we shouldn’t need to be. I think it can silence people with, say, mental health illnesses who think that in order to be successful they must be a certain way. They must be the ‘whole package’. Well, personally, this package is dented! It’s rattling around with smashed pieces inside and the paper is all torn! But I still want a voice. I still want to share my songs. I still want to connect to people through music. And I really want others to feel the same, because it just so happens that some of the most beautiful, most moving, truest music I have heard has come from people who struggle in this way; people who have hardly any followers on Soundcloud, say, or few listens. How they use their experiences to create is astounding. We need so, so much more of that out in the world.

The last question is traditionally reserved for future plans. What can we expect from Nic Evennett in the coming months?

Nic Evennett:  Ooo, like any question about the future, I say ‘who knows?’! I have some plans of eventually getting a little EP together, but money is tight, obviously, so I need to find ways of doing this on a budget. Certainly more songs, and I’ve thrown my music into various competitions out there. I would LOVE to have a song used in TV or film. I think music and drama can be such a magical partnership, so I am trying to find ways of doing that at the moment. If anybody out there knows how, please come chat to me! But I am very much a ‘in the moment’ person, so I just live hour by hour, day by day. That way magical things can happen that you just weren’t expecting!

Through her own lens #2

 

Nic Evennett can be found online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicevennettmusic/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NicEvennett
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/wingless-night
Bandcamp: https://nicevennett.bandcamp.com/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiCT_99Cy3p1w0RMCuv1SBA

Return to Mountain ( collaboration with Steve Gleason)

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/returntomountain
Soundclick: http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=540680 (Steve`s page)

Silent Reasons (collaboration with Frank Cable)

https://soundcloud.com/silentreasons
https://soundcloud.com/orionstarband (Frank`s page)

We would like to thank Tom Robinson of 6 Music for introducing us to Nic`s music.  And big kudos to Nic who was patient with us for publishing this interview.  We are hoping to make quite a few updates to this interview in the coming months.

Until the next time.

Mal+Rita

*** Update 01/02/2018***

We are following up our awesome (and highly popular!) interview with Nic! After we wrapped the talk, we still had some questions. We wanted to know what the artists will release this year. And boy, we were lucky. After a bit of nagging, Nic  revealed that her new digital single will be called “Ribbons” and you can listen to it online!

Nic Evennett: There are two versions of this track – this one includes the birds outside Nic’s house.

During our post interview exchange, we also learned that Nic is an advocate for mental health and well-being.  In September 2016,  she released an experimental EP “Three” from which half of proceeds go to charity Mind. The EP includes seven compositions, all recoded during the same week. It was basically a challenge: one song a day while stepping outside comfort zone and using  instruments and arrangements that Nic not used before.

Nic Evennett:  The EP is free to download on Bandcamp, though people can give money if they like and 50% goes to the charity Mind. Might be worth a mention. In fact all my music is free to download, in truth, but we won’t mention that! (giggle)

Three EP cover

You can access the EP from the link below:

https://nicevennett.bandcamp.com/album/three

Nic you are the very definition of awesomeness and a proper legend!

Mal+Rita

*** Update 03/02/2018***

Bone and Thirst EP cover

We knew there was something in the air, when we followed up our interview with Nic. She mentioned EPs and singles. We should have seen it coming really! The hard life of a music writer – you try to nail everything, have the artist in a box, fully explained and  leaving no mystery uncovered. And then this happens – a brand new EP! Dropped in the middle of the night! Ah!

Artists are such incredible beings – they constantly reinvent themselves, they are masters of creativity and no matter how hard you try to figure them out, they are two steps ahead of you. And we love them for it, to be honest.  They keep us on our toes.

We can picture Nic Evennett smiling like mythical Sphinx when she dropped her new EP – “Bone and Thirst” at 4:00 am yesterday.

But we will admit -we are very lucky. We got our interview just at the right time. We won`t complain.

So what can you expect from “Bone and Thirst”? Three songs:  the title track, lead single “Ribbon” and a brand new composition – “Jagged Boy”, incredible poetic lyrics and  two digital photographs.  Nice package.

“Bone and Thirst” is the most experimental of the tree tracks – it blend trip hop and electronica with  mesmerizing vocals, it is full of loops, samples and strange noises in the background that create quite a dark and nervous atmosphere. Nic is shining in this track, her voice just flows and overwhelms you. This composition reminds us a bit of Sarah McLachlan or Paula Cole – it is very cinematic, neurotic and mysterious.

Ribbon digital single cover

On the other hand – “Ribbon” is completely opposite. Nic sings nearly a-cappella accompanied just by a piano and chirping birds. You read it right. There are birds singing in the background though out the track and this is used like accompanying instrument to the piano. What a strangely beautiful duet! Vocals are stripped but in the lead, providing a focal point of the composition. We`d think “Bone and Thirst” would make the lead single, with all the production that went into the track, but choosing  “Ribbon” Nic Evennett proved to be very brave, experimental and adventurous artist.

“Jagged Boy” continues with the acoustic feeling. But there is something gospel about it. It feels almost religious, like it was recorded in a cathedral instead of a studio. Nic`s voice is at times multiplied, creating a choir effect. The lyrics is unsettling and mysterious, a lamentation even. If this song won’t give you goose-bumps, please consult a GP. You may be deaf. In both ears.

The EP can be bought from Nic’s Bandcamp page and half of the proceeds will go to Mind charity.

https://nicevennett.bandcamp.com/album/bone-and-thirst

You know what to do, dear readers. Go and get yourself a copy of the EP.

A comment from Tom Robinson!

Also, thank you Tom Robinson for your feedback. We are blushing. It is a great honour as we consider ourselves fans of your music and we have always held your lyrics and writings in high esteem. Much power to you too Sir!

Mal+Rita

Indieterria meets The Humdrum Express

Dear Readers,

We continue  our series of interviews with musicians we think shape music scenes and sonic landscapes around us this year.  They don`t have to be spring chickens leading revolutions and tearing roofs off the venues. They can be experienced artists, wiser in their business ways and accompanied by a trusty guitar. And they are still relevant, on point and powerful in their expression. Today, we present you Ian Passey, who is the force behind The Humdrum Express. Ian will be one of the artists that will rock Worcester for Musicians Against Homelessness.  Read on, dear friends. This is as we say: banger of an interview and an artist you have to know.

A thousand things to worry about

An esteemed artist, Ian Passey, has built a solid fan base in the West Midlands under his moniker, The Humdrum Express. Championed by BB6 Music and sharing stages with the rock and roll greatest, Ian is returning to his home turf this September to support Worcester Music Festival and play a charitable show for the national campaign, Musicians Against Homelessness. We have met Ian to discuss his many achievements, stardom and new music he is currently working on.


BBC describes you as “One man, a few instruments and a thousand things to worry about”. Who exactly is Ian Passey?

Ian Passey:  I’m a singer/songwriter based in Kidderminster. I’ve been writing songs for as long as I can remember, firstly as a member of various bands (Smedley, Jackpot, Swagger). After a bit of a break, I decided to do my own thing, initially bedroom recordings, before taking the plunge back into gigging. Ten years later, I’m still here – writing and performing with as much enthusiasm as I’ve ever had. I suppose the “thousand things to worry about” tag came from the underdog slant of the lyrics, attempting to fear the worst in a humorous way. Either that or it’s a good guess!

The Humdrum Express is your solo project. You write your own music, produce your albums and play all instruments – you are a one man band. Do you prefer to work alone?

Ian Passey:  Although that was the case a few years ago, in more recent times, I’ve really enjoyed working with other people. My last couple of albums and most recent EP has been produced by Mick Lown. Not only is he fun to work with, but also has a great knack of suggesting ideas and instrumentation to suit a particular song. It’s a refreshing way to work which helps to prevent getting stuck in a rut. As far as videos go, I’ve been teaming up with Nick J. Townsend pretty regularly. Again, he’s someone I really enjoy working with to help expand on some of my ideas. I love to get as many people involved as possible with the videos and I’m always amazed by how many love being a part of them. I’ve also got several musician friends, who have enhanced some of the recordings for which I’m extremely grateful. Long may these collaborations continue! I’m always on the lookout for new ones if anyone’s interested…

Ian Passey performing – photo by Arthur Passey

It is hard to categorize your music. Some journalists put you into spoken word or singer/songwriter category; others consider you to be a prime example of what experimental music should sound like. How do you feel about the constant need of squeezing artist into existing genres? Is there any style that could comfortably describe what you are doing or do you avoid being labelled at all?

Ian Passey:  The need for genres is something that has bugged me for years! I always put lyrics ahead of any particular musical style and I’m quite happy to change it when the need arises. I love the spoken word style as much as the classic verse/chorus/middle eight structures. It all about getting the maximum impact from a phrase, I suppose.

Your lyrics, an important part of your music, are complex and straightforward. They’ve earned you a reputation of a “bespectacled observationist, casting a cynical eye over exasperating times”. Where do you look for inspiration?

Ian Passey:   I don’t really look anywhere for it, but always seem to stumble across something. That being said, this is proving to be my leanest year, writing wise, for some time. Perhaps I should start looking?! Like most artists, I work better when there’s a deadline looming so maybe I should start thinking about album number six…

The Humdrum Express album “(Failed Escapes from the) Clones Town Blues” received great reviews from leading music journalists such as Steve Lamacq. Your newest release “The Day My Career Died” has been championed on BB6 Music. Has the exposure helped you to advance your career outside of West Midlands?

Ian Passey:   It’s been fantastic in so many ways. Being pitched alongside artists I admire has helped improve and focus my writing. The thought of being found out as an impostor drives me on to write stuff worthy of the airplay! The knock-on effect is obviously the new people all over the world who suddenly have access to your music.

You have shared stages with many legends: performance poet John Cooper Clarke, Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü), Ian McCulloch (Echo & the Bunnymen), The Wombats, Half Man Half Biscuit, The Wedding Present, Hugh Cornwell (The Stranglers) and Miles Hunt (The Wonder Stuff) to name just a few. If you could choose another person to perform with, who would that be?

Ian Passey:  Tricky question! Billy Childish would be nice as it would mean he was back playing live again. I did three dates with John Cooper Clarke around 2010 and I’d love the opportunity again, although the venues he’s packing out these days are much bigger than back then. I was due to support the Sleaford Mods a couple of years ago until the promoter in Leamington opted for a more local act instead. That would have been great, but it wasn’t to be.

You are probably the only person from Kidderminster to ever play at Glastonbury festival. How do you remember this experience?

Ian Passey:  Hazily! I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one from Kidderminster either! It was hardly the Pyramid stage but it was great fun. I seem to recall the act on before me end with a cover of “Take on me” by A-ha which the crowd lapped up. I’m not sure why, but I thought I’d end my own set in similar fashion… by tearing through “Gather in the mushrooms” by Benny Hill! Unless my memory is playing tricks, I received a standing ovation!

We have to ask you – was “Worcester Woman (Forgate Me Not)” written about a real person linked to the city or is it licentia poetica?

Ian Passey:  I’ve always viewed that one as a bit of general daftness! It’s a fictional tale that attempts to mix romance with political terminology. It doesn’t get played too often but I’m tempted to give it an airing on 22nd September, particularly as The Marr’s Bar gets a mention.

The Humdrum Express has many faithful supporters on the local scene. You have played Worcester Music Festival several times, always coming back by popular demand. This year you will also support Crisis charity by performing at Musicians Against Homelessness event on 22nd of September. You will appear on the acoustic stage.

Ian Passey:  I’ve been lucky enough to play at every Worcester Music Festival apart from the very first one. As it happens,  I’m not playing this time but will be promoting an evening as I have done for the past three years. My event will take place at The Firefly on the Sunday, featuring several of my favourite grass roots discoveries.

What are your plans for the autumn? Any upcoming tours?

Ian Passey:   I’ve got some great gigs on the horizon… I’m playing my biggest headline show to date at The Rose Theatre in Kidderminster on 7th October (tickets available from their website!) It’s a near 200 capacity all seater venue and, without giving too much away, will be much more than the usual gig format. I’ve also got dates with the likes of CUD, Mark Morriss and Half Man Half Biscuit to look forward to, so it should be a fun few months. I’m releasing a brand new single early in November with an accompanying video, so I’m pretty busy until the end of the year.

You can follow Ian and The Humdrum Express

www.thehumdrumexpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/TheHumdrumExpress/
https://soundcloud.com/thehumdrumexpress

Musicians Against Homelessness charity concert will take place on September 22nd 2017 at Marrs Bar

If you want to see Ian Passey play Musicians Against Homelessness concert, tickets are a £5 and can be bought from the links below:

https://www.wegottickets.com/event/413506
http://www.marrsbar.co.uk/events/musicians-against-homelessness-2/
https://www.facebook.com/events/106395143421500

To find out more about MAH visit Musicians Against Homelessness on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/mahgigs/