Kevin Mitchell – aka Bob Evans, the break-out frontman of beloved Aussie ‘90s act Jebediah – releases a carefully compiled record of tracks from throughout his solo career this month. We spoke to the engaging musician about Full Circle.
In assembling this album, you chose songs from your back catalogue that have “grown legs of their own” rather than those that were radio hits. In what various ways have these songs grown their own legs – is it through playing them live, or did it happen in your own mind over time?
[Laughs] Look, sometimes it’s happening in my mind! Wonderful You, for example, was the final track off my Familiar Stranger record . It was never a single, but it has become a real live favourite – I play it pretty much every gig. Most of the time I end my shows with it. Wintersong is an example of a song that’s grown purely in my own mind, because it was a song that didn’t get played on the radio, or have any sort of life outside of the record, but it’s that I really felt was important to include on this compilation because it represents another side of [my] songwriting. This will be the first time I’ve played Wintersong live, on this tour.
You’ve said your solo career took off at the perfect time because Jebediah were burnt out, and you “can’t do anything else.” Do you really think that? If your arm dropped off tomorrow, what would you do?
If my arm fell off I could still sing and I could still hopefully write. Playing guitar would be difficult. The thing is, I started Jebediah in my first year of university when I was still living at home; the following year was when I started earning a wage from being a musician, and moved out of home, and I’ve been doing it full time ever since. So I don’t have any experience or any qualifications to do anything else! So I’m really kind of f-cked! Because this music thing has to keep working! And the stakes are much higher now because I have kids and a mortgage. If I had to get a job I’d literally be applying at Coles or something.
Do you ever wonder where Bob Evans – of the basketball shirt – is?
I’m guessing that bob Evans was maybe some guy who played on an amateur basketball team, a social sporting team. Maybe basketball, maybe something else. And maybe everyone on the team made up their own little t-shirts. And maybe he was Robert. Im assuming he was a Robert Evans. But no one’s ever come forward and said hey that’s my t-shirt. It could’ve been a really old dude who’s dead now! Maybe that’s how it ended up at the op shop! Because a lot of clothes…that are in the op shop… are there… because people have died!
You’ve said: “It’s such a game to keep creatively stimulated and excited.” What do you try to do to play that game?
You just have to be proactive. You have to keep searching out inspirations, and I set little challenges for myself. For example, a couple of years ago I was like: Tom Petty. What Tom Petty songs do I know? I don’t own a single Tom Petty record. I know a few of his songs that’ve been on the radio, but I’ve got to educate myself. So I go on little education missions where I dive into the back catalogues of people form the past. And then steal all their ideas.
Full Circle is out October 5 via EMI.
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